Making applications for graduate social work jobs? How to stand out
Social care employers use a variety of application methods depending on whether they are in the public, private or voluntary sector. Locals authority recruiters typically use application forms as this makes it straightforward to comply with equal opportunities guidelines. Whichever method of recruitment an employer is using, it’s vital to show in detail that you’re the right person for the job.
Make sure you give yourself time
There has been particularly tough competition for social work positions in recent years, especially for roles with local authorities. Take time over your applications to give yourself the best possible chance of success. Don’t leave them to the last minute. If you’re completing an application form, be mindful of the word counts given for each response. Work on your answers in a wordprocessing application first so that you can spellcheck and proofread them carefully before pasting them in.
Match yourself to the person specification
The person specification sets out the competencies needed for the role, and you need to address each of these to show that you are a good match. The employer will be looking for evidence that you can do the job and also wants to see that you can communicate clearly and concisely.
Customise every application and never copy across sections from previous applications for other roles. You need to show that you’re the right fit for this specific job and you can’t do that by reproducing old information.
When you review your application, try to think like an employer. Recruiters are likely to tick off each quality listed in the person specification as they come across evidence of it.
Make the most of your experience
Use your pre-course experience, placements and any work you’ve undertaken since qualification to give examples and evidence that you have the competencies needed to do the job. Even if you’ve been working in a job that is not a social worker post since completing your qualification, you may be able to use it to provide examples. Make sure you spell out how the examples you give relate to the criteria for the job.
Refer to relevant legislation
If appropriate, refer to relevant legislation and the policy framework so the recruiter can see that you’ve got the knowledge required to do the job well. Depending on the role, knowledge of specific subjects may be listed among the criteria on the person specification.
Being knowledgeable helps you to come across as more confident and authoritative both in your application and at interview. Review your understanding of policy and developments in practice and make sure you stay up to date.
Be clear and succinct
Avoid waffle and jargon, and make sure you proofread your application carefully.
Keep a copy
Keep a copy of your application so you can refer back to it if you’re invited to attend an interview.
Don’t be discouraged
You can increase your chances of success in your job hunt by networking. Keep up with people from your placements and university, as you may find out about jobs that way. Make use of social media to stay in touch and to keep up with employers. You could consider agency work while you are looking for a permanent position.
You could also consider casting the net wider and applying for jobs in related fields in social care where a degree in social work is not a requirement, for example, in areas such as youth justice, housing and probation. Another option is working for a provider of social care, for example in day services, residential care or home care.