finding your first social work role

​Finding your first social work role

By Gemma Raw

Good news. You’ve landed on just the right site to help you find your first social work job.

We’ve been recruiting social work practitioners at every stage of their career for many years. We know it can be daunting finding your first social work role. But there’s plenty you can do to take control of your career and that starts from when you are at University of College.

Build your network

You need to treat your placement years as leaving a footprint everywhere you go. You’ll want to build a network of people you can call upon to offer advice as you near graduation and impress your social work managers along the way. 

Feedback to placement managers

Always let your placement manager know that you have enjoyed working in the local authority. Better still, email them with a detailed overview of what you have learned from them and use that opportunity to ask them for a reference. 

Keep in touch

Keep in touch with people along the way, especially where you have been placed. When a job opportunity arises, you will already be in their mind. Once qualified, these contacts could help provide the first step of your career as a qualified social worker.

Attend careers fairs 

There are plenty of job fairs throughout the country. Schedule some into your diary. Even if you do not find employment from attending, you will have some good conversations and it will give your job hunt a boost. 

Be realistic 

Depending on your pre-Uni experience, where your placements were and when you started applying for roles, you might not be able to find a qualified social work placement straight away. 

Remember, a lot of social work occurs outside local authorities. Don’t rule out looking for roles without the social work title. Or, as a temporary solution to gain experience, consider a support worker job to get your foot in the door. This helps to prevent gaps in your employment and can boost experience. 

Make yourself known

Try not to make too many assumptions by job descriptions alone. Check with employers, or Sanctuary, whether you can apply for a position. Recruiting managers are willing to be flexible if you can demonstrate your knowledge within a specific area. 

Seek help with your application 

When there is so much competition to secure entry-level social work roles, a spelling mistake or wrong date could lead to rejection. Find a friend, or peer, who can be a critical eye and identify any mistakes. 

Register with Sanctuary 

We cannot promise to find you a role straight away, but some of our social work employers have openings for newly qualified social workers. By registering with Sanctuary, you will also benefit from becoming part of a wider community of social workers, with direct access to some great career resources.

Let's start the process, register with Sanctuary today! We have written a selection of pieces around starting and navigating your social work career.