48 hours until your interview
The countdown is on. 48 hours until your social work interview and a mixture of nerves and excitement are starting to set in. It’s easy to let some of the seemingly obvious preparations slip through the net so we’ve prepared this blog as a reminder of some of the key things not to forget!Plan your travelYour interview may be at a location you are familiar with, but if it’s not, you’ll want to know how long it’s going to take you to get there and the sooner you check, the better. Many of our clients have guest parking, but what if those spaces are full on the day; would you know where to park and have enough change to pay for your space?Travelling by carIf you work in frontline social work, you’ll no doubt already use navigation software, but the route planning function on Google Maps is good and might give you that extra info your Sat Nav can’t. To access this, follow these steps.Step 1: Google Maps.Go to Google Maps and click the blue arrow to the right of the search bar (when you hover over it, it will say Directions).Step 2: Finding your destination.Type in your address and your destination and then Google will come up with the address' it recognises in the white area below. Click on the correct one to activate it.Step 3: Choosing your route.Google will offer you some different routes to choose from. You will see the estimated journey time and the amount of miles between the start and end point. You may notice some coloured lines on your route, these represent the different traffic conditions; the red lines show bad traffic delays and the orange lines show medium traffic delays (usually slow moving).Travelling by trainFor those travelling by train, the National Rail app gives you live travel updates, so you can check if your train is delayed or cancelled before you leave the house.Travelling by tubeThe Tube Map Planner is great if you are planning a route on the London Underground. It will give you the fastest route and tell you where you need to change over.Choose your outfitSocial work is one of the few caring professions without a universal dress code which can leave you a little unsure what to wear. Our advice is to go smartly dressed. First impressions are everything.Last minute prepOur careers hub is brimming with useful resources. We recommend downloading the following to help you prepare:Children's Services:Interview guideInterview preparation sheetsAdult Services:Interview guideInterview preparation sheetsReviewing the questions you think you’re likely to be asked and starting to think about how to answer them reduces your chances of being caught out. With questions fresh in your mind, you could ask somebody else to run through a mock-interview with you. Have your ‘interviewer’ give you constructive feedback – not just on what you say but on your non-verbal communication as well. Refresh your memory on your professional history and think about how it relates to the job you are seeking, especially if you have experience within a specific area of work that sets you apart from other candidates.Be prepared for behavioural interview questions. Knowing how you performed in the past will give the employer a sense of how you might do in the future; you might be asked to recall a time when you worked under pressure, an occasion when you made a mistake, or how you handle conflict.Know your legislationWe cannot stress how important it is to review relevant legislation and policy ahead of the interview. An employer will want to know if you have a full understanding of your legal obligations as a social worker. For an adult social worker role, you’ll need to be able to comfortably talk about your obligations under the Care Act 2014. Likewise, children’s social workers will need to show they are up-to-date with the Children and Families Act 2014.What to take on the dayYour dedicated Sanctuary consultant will advise you on what you must take along with you for interview, but generally you should take:A copy of your DBS certificatePhoto ID (e.g. passport or driving licence)Details of the person that you must ask for upon arrivalThe job description and person specificationExam certificates, including any CPD accredited training certificatesPen and notepadEnjoy your interviewNow you can relax. All that’s left for you to do is to enjoy the interview. Remember, you’ve made the shortlist so you have already impressed on paper! Good luck!If you have any specific queries relating to your interview, please get in touch with your consultant.
Your social work career path
Social work is often described as a “passion” and a “calling”. Our community regularly talk to us about why they chose to join the profession; with many saying it’s because they had a desire to help those at their most vulnerable.As experienced recruiters, we know that you don’t just have a passion for your job, you’re ambitious to take steps along your career path to challenge yourself. We know that you’re keen to learn new skills because you know that it will help you to become better practitioners. And this is where we thrive; we do what we can to support our social workers at every stage of their career, from the moment they graduate through to the day that they decide to retire.With that in mind, we want to shine a light on how varied a career in social work can be. It excites us that there are so many opportunities to continually push yourself, and we’re proud to be by your side as you take that journey.Newly Qualified Social Workers (NQSW)For the first few years of your social work career, you will be officially classed as an NQSW. This means that you’ll be provided with additional training and development opportunities. Within your first twelve months, you’ll be expected to participate in the Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) - which is a twelve-month programme of support and assessment coordinated by your employer.During the year, you’ll be continually assessed against the Professional Capabilities Framework (PCF). Once you’ve passed the assessments, you’ll be provided with a Fitness to Practice certificate which will confirm that you meet a national set of standards.Social WorkersOnce you’ve completed your AYSE and you have gained a few years’ experience, you can start to see new opportunities opening. You may consider whether you want to move into a more specific role, and this is where you can begin directing your professional opportunities in different directions.For instance, you may find that there are specific teams that you want to work in – examples include Integrated Neighbourhood, Learning Disabilities, Looked-After Children or Referral and Assessment Teams. There is a wealth of different teams available and each one will require a different element of social care support. You will quickly develop a specialism which will keep you motivated and professionally challenged.Experienced Social WorkerAs you become more experienced, you can start to see new duties emerge and more opportunities to develop new skills. Experienced social workers can often work more autonomously, and you may be given more complex caseloads which will really push you.At this stage of your career, you may be leaning towards gaining managerial or leadership experience. You may be interested in pursuing opportunities to chair meetings or lead multi-agency working. You may even be starting to look at opportunities to lead by example and work as a team manager.At this level, you may notice that your duties start to take you away from frontline social work into management. If you’re looking to challenge yourself yet remain working closely with families, then you may benefit from looking at principal social worker roles, which bridge the gap between frontline practice and strategic management.Advanced PractitionerAdvanced practitioners are often expected to provide leadership and promote innovation amongst their teams. It’s an ideal career path for those who are keen to participate in processes and help to develop policies and strategies.Whilst many social work job roles at this level may focus upon managerial positions, you can expand your horizons with specialist opportunities such as practice educators, independent reviewing officers or senior AMHP roles.Senior ExecutivesFor those who are keen to work in a managerial capacity, there is plenty of opportunities to progress even further thanks to Service Manager roles, Head of Service, Strategy/Commissioning Managers or even Director/Assistant Director opportunities.These high-pressured roles are about leading by example. There is little frontline work involved as you will be expected to take responsibility for entire departments and ensure that all services are able to deliver statutory care.As you can see, there are a wealth of opportunities to enjoy a fulfilling social work career and we’re proud to be able to offer a greater number of job opportunities than ever before.If you’d like to find out how we can help you achieve your dream job, then please get in touch or check out our latest social work job vacancies.
What is Step Up to Social Work?
Each year, the Department for Education, at universities and colleges throughout England, runs Step Up to Social Work. It is an intensive, 14-month, full-time programme to train social workers.Working at a local authority, you gain hands-on experience as well as theoretical learning. At the end of the programme, you’ll gain a postgraduate diploma in social work. This allows you to register and practice as a social worker. FundingTo offset the cost of lost income, you’ll receive a bursary of £19,833 for the 14-month duration of the course. Eligibility criteriaApplicants must hold the following higher education qualifications in any subject apart from social work:a minimum 2:1 level 6-degree qualification, ora minimum 2:2 honours degree plus a higher degree (level 7 or above), for example, a Master’s degree or a Postgraduate Certificate in EducationApplicants must also live in England and have:GCSEs in English or English language and mathematics at grade C or above (or approved equivalent)A minimum of 6 months experience of voluntary or paid work with children, young people or familiesYou can find out more about what qualification levels mean on the Government’s website. Of course, whether you are a good fit for Step Up To Social Work also depends on several other factors. The Department for Education recommends applicants should:have the right emotional resilience understand social work theory and research be aware of the different forms of harm to childrenbe intuitive and logical their decision-makingbe able to record accurate child and family assessmentshave an understanding of the knowledge and skills statements for child and family social workers gain an understanding of the Professional Capabilities Framework for social workers (entry level)They must also complete an enhanced Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) check before being accepted onto the programme.Course expectationsAs a trainee, you will have to complete 170 placement days of social work experience at local authorities.The course will cover social work ethics and practice, child development, the legal framework for social care and assessment of risk. This is in line with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education (QAA). Career opportunities after the programmeSuccessful trainees will be awarded a Postgraduate Diploma in Social Work. They will be able to register as social workers with the HCPC.Already, the course has proven popular with social work employers. Over 80% of graduates have been successfully recruited into social work jobs and we are pleased to say we know many of them.Find out why social workers love working with Sanctuary - register today!
Universities offering social work degrees
Since the title of ‘social worker’ is a protected one, you will need to gain certain qualifications before you can practice. Social worker qualifications are regulated to ensure vulnerable people in our communities receive a minimum quality of service. It also means, as a social worker, you have been provided with the right level of education to keep you safe. Qualified social workers should also register with the Health Care and Professionals Council (HCPC) before they start practicing as a social worker. Most social workers will gain a BA (Hons) in Social Work. As an undergraduate, the qualification needs to be primarily in Social Work, but is can be combined with another subject. As the public sector begins to lean more towards integrated care, it’s not uncommon to find degrees combining Nursing and Social Work or Children’s Education and Social Care. Social work coursesBelieve it or not, there are over 160 social work courses in England with further variations in Scotland and Wales. You’ll need to decide what interests you most – adult or children’s social work and then make a shortlist. At that point you’ll want to carefully consider the entry requirements. Don’t be put off if you are a mature student. You might find there is some flexibility if you do not have the minimum qualifications. Most universities will expect you to have 2 A-levels though and for you to have achieved an A-C grade in GCSE Maths and English. If you are studying full-time, the course is usually 3 years costing around £9,000 per year. Part-time studying takes either 5 or 6 years depending on the training provider. During this time, you will be expected to complete practical placements with social work teams. There are scholarship options available and specialist graduate fast-track programmes. Assessed and Supported Year in EmploymentMost recruiters will want you to achieve a 2:1 or above in your degree. But don’t worry. If you do not achieve a 2:1, you can participate in an Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE). An ASYE is a 12-month employer-led programme that will give you additional guidance as a newly qualified social worker. It’s also recommended for those who want a bit more support in their first year. Alternative qualificationsYou don’t have to have an undergraduate degree in social work. Many social workers choose other subjects as their undergraduate degree and choose to do a 2-year Masters in Social Work.Of course, you can do a Masters in Social Work with a Social Work undergraduate degree. It gives you the chance to specialise in a field. Think AheadIf you are a non-social work graduate with a keen interest in supporting people with mental health issues, Think Ahead could be for you. It is the fast-track programme for those considering a career in mental health social work. You must already have a degree and it doesn’t need to be in social work. The programme is taught at several institutions across the UK and is full-time, Mondays to Fridays, for its entire duration – including the Summer Institute, Year One, and Year Two. To learn more about getting into the profession, download our advice and support document for NQSWs and students.
Interested in a social work career?
Do you have a strong desire to help others, to support people at their most vulnerable in making important life decisions? If this is you, social work could be a rewarding career choice for you. It’s also one that offers lots of opportunities for gaining qualifications in specialist areas of support. If you want to become a social worker, you will need the relevant undergraduate or postgraduate social work degree. Why? Because the title of ‘social worker’ is carefully protected and it requires specific knowledge and experience. Gaining your social work degreeThankfully, there are many universities in the UK where you can study. You can search for social work courses on the Health and Care Professional Council website. Each curriculum gives students the theoretical and practical skills they need to work as professional social workers. Courses are delivered in partnership with local authorities to ensure that students undertake up to 200 days of practice learning the field. Safeguarding To safeguard you and the people you support, you will also need to pass background checks by the Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS). The DBS makes criminal record and other checks to ensure unsuitable people are not allowed to work with vulnerable adults or children.Student social workers must also register with the correct regulator for the UK country they are studying in. These are: England – Health and Care Professions Council (soon to be Social Work England)Northern Ireland – Northern Ireland Social Service Council Scotland – Scottish Social Service Council Wales – Care Council of WalesThese are also the bodies that qualified social workers must register with in order to be able to practice. Newly qualifiedAs a Newly Qualified Social Worker you are likely to need further training and guidance during your first two years of work. During this time, you will have a limited workload and be given additional feedback and supervision. Jobs with a social work degreeHaving a social work degree allows you to take on a range of specialist roles in statutory, voluntary and independent social work settings. As you gain more social work experience you will be able to specialise in areas of support, and work in either permanent or locum roles. As a register social worker, you are likely to support one or more of the following groups of people: Older people Children or adults with disabilities Children, teenagers or adults with mental health problems Young offenders Adults with learning disabilities People with alcohol, drug or other substance misuse problems Refugees and asylum seekers People who are socially excluded Children who need to live apart from their families Foster carers and adopters People, including children who are at risk of abuse or neglect, or have been abused and neglected CarersAs your career develops you can take on more responsibility in:Management and leadership roles Becoming a practice supervisor or educator Specialist activities, for example child protection chair, senior AMHP, independent reviewing officerSanctuary Social Care works with clients throughout statutory, voluntary and independent settings. Typically, most social workers will be placed at local authorities, but there are other more unusual roles such as social work jobs with the national armed forces charity SSAFA.To find out more, download our Advice and Support document for NQSWs and Students.
Placements during your social work degree
Placements are a vital part of any social work degree. They allow you to gain real-life insight and experience. They also give you the opportunity to learn from more senior social workers.At the start of the course, you will be given a local authority for the duration of your course. At your placement, you will gain the practical experience to complement your classroom based theoretical studies. Most degrees will expect you to complete around 200 days practice over three years. In your first year it’s usually around 20 days, 80 in the second and 100 in the third. This can vary though. During your placement, you’ll learn how to approach a broad range of issues faced by those you will end up supporting. You will also learn how to build peer networks and professional relationships. Where will my placements be? These can be in a statutory, voluntary or independent setting. Most often they are within local authorities. But they can also be in care homes, palliative care services, or voluntary organisations working with victims of abuse or substance misusers. Can I choose my placement?The first placement is usually arranged by the local authority identified as your host. You do get to express an interest in where you wish to be placed and this is taken on board. Your next placements are made following discussions with you and what your learning requirements are. Your final placement is usually within a team where you hope to find employment upon graduating.What support will I receive?This will vary. But from the social workers we support, most felt supported during their placement. There’s always an induction process, where the student is introduced to the workings and structure of the team and what is expected of them. Group and one-to-one supervisions are also held during the placements to make sure you feel supported. As a student, you will also be provided with a primary point of contact – a person you can contact should you have any issues. How will I be assessed?Students are usually allocated a Practice Assessor for each placement. You will have to complete a portfolio for each placement to evidence your learning. Students also have to meet the National Occupational Standards and adhere to the Codes of Professional Practice (CoPP) during each placement. How can I be prepared?You’ll have a mixture of feelings about your first placement; excitement and nerves. But a little preparation can set your mind at rest. Once you know where your placement is, look at their policies and procedures. Usually these will be on their website, but you can request them too. You’ll also need to arrange a pre-placement visit before you start. As a quick checklist, remember:There’s no such thing as a stupid question – ask away!Get stuck in. Future employers will remember you for being involvedDon’t be afraid to share ideas. Take feedback as constructive – even negative feedback!Remember you’re a student. You are not expected to know everything. Write down as and when you put theory into practice to help document your learning
Getting that promotion
Regardless of how long you’ve spent practicing as a social worker, everyone dreams of being recognised for their efforts and celebrating a well-deserved promotion. You may be a newly qualified social worker with strong ambitions to eventually become a Director of Service. Or you may be looking to secure your first role as a Child Protection Chair. Whatever your dream is, we’re here to help you take those vital steps on the career ladder. Not only can we help advise you on the best social work job roles to help you on your way, but we can offer our support and guidance to encourage you to apply for that next promotion. We believe that it’s important for all our candidates to push themselves to dream big. Promotions aren’t just about rewarding hard work and dedication. They are about recognising that someone has the capability, the drive and the passion to take on more responsibility and improve outcomes for both children and adults. Confidence is key to successIt may sound like a cliché, but you’ll find that those who rise the ranks are often the most confident colleagues. It’s not about arrogance or ego, it’s about putting yourself into a position where you are noticed for your ability to handle more tasks. In recruitment, there is a statistic which states: “Men apply for a job when they have 60% of the listed job attributes, whilst women wait until they have 100%”This stat was uncovered by Hewlett Packard following the publication of an internal report, and it’s a stat which has been repeatedly published over the years to explain why there are so many more men than women in senior roles. In an article for the Harvard Business Review, author Tara Sophia Mohr explored this further and discovered that many 41% of women and 46% of men “didn’t see the hiring process as one where advocacy, relationships, or a creative approach to framing one’s expertise could overcome not having the skills and experiences outlined in the job qualifications.” Although the article was written in 2014, it’s still as relevant today as it ever was. In a female-dominated profession such as social work, it’s increasingly important that we challenge ourselves if we wish to see an increase in female and BAME leadership positions. We need to understand that job descriptions are looking for the most capable person for the role, not necessarily the person with the most qualifications. It’s also important to remember that if you don’t succeed this time, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. Every job application and interview should be considered a learning experience. With each opportunity you can learn more about yourself which will place you in good standing as you move ahead. Last year, we spoke with practitioner Nasheen Singh from Westminster Borough Council as part of an article in Social Work News magazine. Nasheen told us that no one should be put off from applying for senior positions. Her advice was to: “Think about setting a career plan, set your goals and start downloading job descriptions for senior positions and look at what is required and have a go at applying.”This is wise advice and it’s something we regularly come back to. It’s important that you believe in yourself and push yourself to apply for those senior roles. Promotions and career advancements are open to everybody; you simply need to show that you have the desire and the capability to cope with new tasks and greater responsibility. Top Tip! Why not use supervision sessions to talk to your line manager about where you see your career going and ask them to help you gain the skills you need to move ahead. Ask your mentor to hold you accountableIf you read our previous blog article about how mentoring can boost your career, then you’ll know how it can help you to take the next steps. A great mentor isn’t just there to help you improve your practice. Your mentor should be able to give you the confidence to apply for newer, more challenging roles, and hold you accountable to your dreams. You may say that you dream of managing a team, or even running the department, but are you doing anything to make it happen? Your mentor will regularly check in with you and will ask you that specific question. Knowing that you need to have an answer may spur you on to apply for job roles that you may have felt were out of reach. Make the most of your opportunitiesWe know that you’re busy – after all, with so many pressures facing social work teams, it’s impossible to keep on top of your current caseloads. But that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of the opportunities which present themselves to you. If you’re working in a team which has a high staff turnover, then why not see if you can uncover some creative ways of working which would increase stability and boost team morale. Not only will this show you in a positive light to your senior managers who would appreciate your efforts, but it could improve your working environment. Alternatively, if you’ve benefited from some recent training, make sure that you’ve demonstrated to your colleagues how it’s positively impacted upon your practice. Sharing knowledge and information with peers is a key part of your CPD portfolio and will show that you’re a team player. Top Tip! You don’t just have to share your knowledge with your co-workers, you could even raise your profile via Social Work News magazine. We’re always looking for contributors to share their thoughts and insights into topical matters. You never know, featuring in the magazine as a thought-leader or columnist could inspire someone to contact you directly. If you’d like some personal advice on how you can improve your career prospects then please get in touch with one of our consultants. We can not only help you adjust your CV, but we can suggest the right social work job roles which will help you get to where you want to go.
How mentoring can boost your career
We all know that effective mentoring is imperative for great social work practice, but have you considered how you can use mentoring to boost your career? At Sanctuary, we work closely with our candidates to help them achieve the careers that they deserve. They tell us exactly how they see their career going and we help them find the right job roles to help them reach their goals. But we know that not everyone has a Sanctuary fairy godmother working in the background to help them succeed. Some social workers may need to look a little closer to home to find the right mentor to support their personal career path. Mentoring is a subject that we regularly feature within Social Work News magazine. In the popular Social Work Circle column, our social worker told us how she benefited from having a mentor and it’s a topic we frequently come back to. But whilst we often talk about the importance of mentoring from a practice perspective, it’s important to also consider how we can use mentoring to help us move forward in our careers and remain professionally satisfied.As busy social workers, we know that you’ll be working in highly pressurised environments supporting children, young people, and adults. You’ll be juggling so many different caseloads that it can be difficult to even think beyond the end of the day, let alone look into the future to see what you want to achieve. This is where a dedicated mentor can help. They can be there to support you through tough days, and keep you moving forward on your career path. Mentoring can...Improve your skillsLast week, we spoke about how to rediscover your passion for social work. If you’ve found yourself lacking in motivation, then asking a respected colleague to act as a mentor for you will play a big part in your career. We know that mentoring and regular supervision can improve your practical skills. But did you know that having a mentor can help you to discover new skills and uncover new strengths that may have been unaware of? In a working situation, we’re so used to working hard on our caseloads that we often don’t have the time to reflect on what we do well. This is where a mentor can help you to improve your own self-awareness. They can help you to see exactly what you are good at, and which areas could benefit from improvements. This deeper insight into your own skills will help you also identify similar skill sets in other colleagues – an ideal talent if you wish to move into a service manager/team leader role. Build new relationshipsThe value of mentoring can be seen in the relationships that you build with others. As social workers, you’ll be continuously liaising with colleagues in other departments, professionals from external agencies, educational specialists, healthcare staff and police. Not to mention having to build positive relationships with the families that you support. If your mentor has helped you to identify your strengths and weaknesses, then it stands to reason that your relationships with others will become more positive. You may be able to adapt to new ways of working, or maybe you can try more effective forms of communication. As you start to build stronger relationships, you’ll find that you’ll start to achieve more positive outcomes for the people you care for. This could then lead to a snowball effect which could prove positive for your career. Keep us on track to reach our goalsWe’ve all sat down at various points of our careers and thought about what we want to achieve, and when we want to do it by. But do we ever actually take stock and think about whether we’re doing what we intend to do? A great mentor will keep you on track to reach your goals. If you have a five-year plan, they’ll be able to help you identify your goals and work alongside you to help you achieve them. If you have a dream of becoming a Director of Service, then why not ask for a private one-to-one session with your Director to find out how they achieved it? They may be extremely busy, but unless you ask them, you’ll never know! Your mentor should keep you accountable for your own decisions. They’ll know how to push you into making brave moves which suit your career prospects, and they’ll know how to support you as you move forward. Give you the confidence to go for that promotionBravery and confidence are two of the most important boosts that regular mentoring can bring. Its human nature to dream about winning a lucrative promotion, but how many of us are applying for that job role? From a career path perspective, the most influential thing that any mentor can do is to give you the confidence to push yourself and encourage you to apply for those dream job roles. Last year, we spoke to Nasheem Singh from Westminster City Council’s Children’s Services. In an article for Social Work News, she made an empowering statement which said: “If you are considering applying for a senior position in your profession, don’t be put off, apply, push yourself and feel confident and proud of what you have to offer, not only your years of experience but your unique and authentic self. Think about setting a career plan, set your goals and start downloading job descriptions for senior positions and look at what is required and have a go at applying. Think about requesting a coach or mentor to help self a development plan and build on your leadership skills.” In the context of her article, Nasheen was specifically talking about why it’s so important to encourage more black and Asian leadership within the social work profession. But it’s also fantastic advice, which should apply to all social workers at all stages of their careers. If you want to progress in your career, then make sure that you are applying for challenging new roles. Use your job role changes to advance your career and take you further up that career path. After all, you never know where it could take you!
Re-discover your passion for social work
If you’ve been working within the same social work job role for a considerable length of time, you may notice that your motivation starts to slip. This doesn’t mean that you care any less for the people you support, but it’s human nature that after a while, your routine can start to feel slightly monotonous.You may find that the increasing number of caseloads, the pressurised environment, and the continuous budget cuts have affected your motivation. Or it could simply be that you’re looking for a new challenge which will excite and inspire you. Perhaps you just need a reminder of why you trained to become a social worker in the first place. If this sounds familiar, here are some of our top tips to help you re-energize yourself and re-discover your passion for social work! Why did you train to become a social worker?Our candidates regularly tell us that they chose to train as a social worker because it was a “calling”. They wanted to help others and make a difference in society. It’s a noble cause, and we’re continuously inspired by our candidates when they tell us their personal reasons for working within the social work sector. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. You may find that taking a few moments to think back to why you chose to work as a social worker could remind you of your original intentions. Perhaps you have some old textbooks that you can look through or some mementoes of highlights within your career that could jog some memories. When you’re working hard and you’re feeling overwhelmed with administration tasks, it can be easy to forget the important role that you play within a person’s life. If you read our recent interview with Ashley John Baptiste, you’ll see exactly how influential you can be to an individual. What encouraged you to apply for your current job role?You may feel that your lack of motivation is directly attributable to your current job role. Perhaps you feel discouraged by office politics, or maybe you don’t feel a connection with your colleagues. If your feelings are directly influenced by your workplace, then use some reflective time to think about why you initially chose to work in your current social work job role. Perhaps you felt it was a step towards your overall career goals, or maybe it was an opportunity to work alongside someone you hugely respect. If you are feeling unsure about your current role, then perhaps you could conduct your own SWOT analysis. Jotting down some notes on what the strengths and weaknesses are could help to redefine your job role within your mind. You can also look at what the opportunities/threats are in relation to your career. You may find that viewing your job role with a different perspective could be enough to re-motivate you. Do you have a five-year plan for your social work career?Many social workers feel stuck in a rut purely because they aren’t sure how their job is supporting their overall career goals. If you’ve been working in a long-term job role, have you analysed how your career has advanced? Taking a long-term view of your career is a great way to re-motivate yourself. Having something to work towards can be hugely inspiring as you know what you want to achieve and how you want to get there. Think about where you see yourself in five years’ time. Perhaps you want to be a service manager, or maybe you have your eyes set on becoming a Director of Service. There’s plenty of opportunities to develop your social work career whether you’re working as a permanent practitioner or an independent social worker. You may find that speaking directly to your Sanctuary consultant could inspire you further. Having a conversation with an independent person may help you to view your career differently. If our team are aware of what you want to achieve in your career, then we can work with you to help it happen. Are there any key issues which are affecting your motivation?Sometimes it’s easy to pinpoint where a lack of motivation is coming from; other times it can be more complex. If you feel that your lack of motivation stems from a lack of appreciation or acknowledgement from your boss, then perhaps arrange a time where you can speak directly with your team manager. Use this time to talk about what is working well and find out if there are any training opportunities which could help you to improve or update your skills. Often simply participating in a training workshop and meeting new people can inspire and remind you of your passion for social work. What is your work-life balance like?One of the most important things that you can do to prevent yourself from feeling de-motivated, is making sure that you have a positive work-life balance. It may seem simple, but if you’re not adequately relaxing at home and switching off from the pressures of work, you’ll find that you become burned out. Thanks to advances in technology, it’s easy to remain “on” all the time – you may think that answering a quick email at 11pm at night is no big deal, but it’s important that you do take time to look after yourself. Taking the time to do something that you enjoy can be one of the most important things that you do. If you’re working all the time, you’ll feel lethargic and frustrated and you’ll start to resent your work. If you need some help to re-discover your passion for social work, why not speak with your Sanctuary consultant? As well as helping you discover what you want to achieve in your career, they’ll be a good independent sounding board for you to talk to.
Returning after a stress-related break
Earlier this year, a report commissioned by Workwear Giant showed that welfare professionals (which includes social workers) are amongst the top five most stressful professions in the UK. Unfortunately, this comes as no surprise to us, as we understand the pressures that you face and the context in which you work. Throughout our regular blog articles, we try to help you as we can to help limit your stress levels where possible. Just last month we spoke about why it’s so important that social workers take care of themselves, and we’ve previously explored how we can effectively prevent social worker burnout.But we haven’t yet covered how you can return to your social work career after taking time out as a result of stress. Below, we give some suggestions for how you can successfully manage your return to the workforce.Talk to your line manager about your stress levelsIf you have been seriously affected by the effects of burnout, and you’re ready to return to the workforce, it’s important to address the issues which led to your stress in the first place. Simply returning to the same working situation will not resolve any issues so it’s imperative that you take the time to speak with your line manager and your HR representative to find a solution.Good employers will be looking to support their staff and if you have been signed off sick by a doctor, you can expect them to make reasonable changes to support your return to the workplace. It may be something as simple as a phased return to work, or it could be permanent changes to your working hours.Initiate discussions with your colleagues about mental healthWhen you return to the workforce, you may feel that everyone is talking about you, but the reality is that you won’t be alone. Statistics show that one in four of us will be affected by a mental health difficulty at any time and stress-related illnesses are a big part of this.Your co-workers will understand and empathise with you – after all, they’ll be working under the same stressful working conditions. Obviously, you don’t need to tell them all the details for the reasons behind your absence, but if they are concerned about you, it may be beneficial to let them know if you are OK. From a managerial/senior perspective, once you’ve been through it yourself, you’ll be more aware of the signs to look out for. Both in terms of managing your own health, but you may also spot the signs of when a colleague is in distress.Make practical changes to your working practicesYour absence shouldn’t be seen negatively. Try to reflect upon your break and discuss with your line manager any practical changes which could help to reduce stress for yourself and the wider team. Perhaps you may benefit from additional training, or maybe your manager needs to ensure that effective supervision sessions are taking place. In our interview with Sass Boucher in a previous issue of Social Work News magazine, Sass told us how important it is that reflective supervision sessions also include time spent on personal reflection, not just on the specific case.Speaking exclusively to us, she says: “We need to create a culture where it’s OK to take care of ourselves and encourage others to do so.”Other changes you could suggest includes making sure that you have a good support network around you; not just at home but also within the office environment. Having someone to offload to and ask for support from can be extremely valuable. Whether you see that person as a mentor or just a trusted co-worker, it’s important to be able to talk to someone and have them to lean on during times of crises.Moving on? How to explain stress-related career breaks to potential employersYou may decide that you’re not able to return to your initial workplace, and as such, may prefer to move into a new role. This may bring its own challenges – should you reference any lengthy career breaks on your CV? How do you answer stress-related questions in your interview? This is something that we come across regularly. If you’ve taken a long career break, then the first thing you will need to focus upon is ensuring that your registration is up to date with the HCPC. They have plenty of guidance on how social workers can return to practice. Once you've completed your registration activities, then you can focus upon your CV. We’ve shared plenty of guidance within our blog pages about how to write your social work CV. If you do have a lengthy career absence, then you can simply reformat it. Using years rather than months for dates will cover any recent short-term absences, whilst ensuring that your CV focuses heavily upon your skill set will help set you apart from other candidates. In an interview scenario, it’s important to remember that legally, prospective employers are unable to ask you about health-related matters. It’s entirely up to you whether you wish to disclose the reasons for your career break. However, you could consider framing it in a positive way. If you’re asked a basic question about “how do you handle stress” then let the hiring manager know what reasonable adjustments, you know that you need. If you need more training on a specific piece of administrative software, or you know that you would benefit from mentorship or weekly supervision then tell them. Within an interview situation, it’s always wise to think of practical solutions to any common issues; it shows you as a forward thinker and a team player and could work to your advantage. If you’ve been affected by a stress-related career break and you’re looking to get back into a social work job role, then please give one of our consultants a call. As well as helping you to formalise your CV, they’ll be able to share details of the wide range of job vacancies that we have available throughout the UK.
Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE)
It can be daunting taking the leap from studying social work to be a full time newly qualified social worker. The Department for Education (DfE) recognises this. That’s why it continues to fund the child and family Assessed and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE) programme. Skills for Care has overall responsibility for managing the programme on behalf of DfE. It also supports the adults ASYE programme on behalf of the Department of Health and Social Care. Whether you are in children’s or adults social work, the one year, employer-led induction programme provides support to all newly qualified social workers (NQSWs).The programme gives NQSWs the opportunity to consolidate their degree learning, develop capability and strengthen their professional confidence. Skills for Care’s aim is to create a nationally consistent understanding of what a social worker should know and be able to do at the end of their first year in employment. Find out why social workers love working with Sanctuary - register today!
How do you gain experience during your studies?
It can feel like a bit of a chicken and egg situation. You need relevant experience before you secure your first social work role but how do you gain more experience whilst studying? Even though you will be on placement during your studies, to set yourself apart from other newly qualified social workers (NQSWs), you will need be proactive in seeking out other opportunities to gain experience. Here’s a few things you might want to think about. What type of experience is relevant?Once you qualify, you’ll be working with a wide range of people in lots of different settings. It makes perfect sense to gain experience of working in different organisations. This can either be through paid employment but is most likely to be through volunteering. Voluntary experienceIf you are aiming to work as a children’s social worker, you might decide to volunteer at a youth club, children’s centre, victim support g