Essential qualities for YOT workers
By Gemma Raw
Youth Offending Team Officers play an increasingly important role in society. As you’ll be responsible for preventing young people from offending or reoffending, it comes as standard that you’ll be a kind and caring person. When it comes to writing your CV, you’ll know that you will need to sell yourself. You’ll need to demonstrate your experience and your skill set, as well as highlight the personal qualities which make you a great addition to any YOT. If you’re unsure what you should be including on your CV, then here’s our list of some of the most essential qualities that you should be demonstrating within your personal profile.
A Youth Offending Team Officer should have...
An interest in helping people
This is possibly the most important quality that you could possess. As someone who works with young people, you need to have a passion for what you do. If you are simply going through the motions or you’re not really interested in the person that you’re supporting, they will soon be able to tell.
You could be working with young offenders, their families or even their victims. It’s important that whoever you’re working with that they feel that you’re genuinely interested in helping and supporting them. You need to be able to engage with them effectively and help them understand how their behaviour has consequences. If the person understands that you are genuinely there to help them, you’ll find that the work will naturally be much more effective.
Good communication skills
Good communication skills can mean many things. It can be about speaking clearly and honestly. It can be about writing strong assessments and reports. It can also be about how you liaise with external parties such as social workers, police, probation officers and healthcare professionals, etc. But most importantly, it’s about how you build strong relationships with the young people that you support.
You need them to be able to engage with you, trust you and respect you. This comes from more than just words, it comes from actions. From showing them exactly why they can put their trust in you. As a member of a youth offending team, there’ll be so many ways of communicating with people. You’ll learn to understand what they are telling you, and more importantly what they are not telling you. You’ll also learn how to read body language and anticipate when someone isn’t being completely honest with you.
Patience and empathy
There’s no denying that working with young people within the youth justice system can be tricky. But it’s how you deal with different situations that set you apart from others. You will need to be extremely patient – after all, you may be the person that they lash out at because they know that you’ll still be there to offer a non-judgemental shoulder to cry on. You will also need to show that you’re an empathetic person who can understand the viewpoint of the person and understand what actions have led to the situation and why.
The ability to stay calm under pressure
You will be adept at handling challenging behaviours and you’ll know exactly how to stay calm when put under pressure. This is a unique personality trait – some people will automatically remain calm whatever the situation, whilst others may find themselves reacting to provocation. Your ability to stay calm under pressure may feature heavily in any job interviews for youth offending roles. Hiring managers will be keen to understand exactly how you can stay calm, and they may be looking to hear some examples of situations where you’ve been able to remain focused on the task itself.
A Youth Offending Team Officer should be trustworthy
Because you’ll be gaining the confidence of young people, you’ll need to be able to show that you understand the importance of confidentiality and that people can trust you.