Career clinic: ‘I want to take on extra agency work’

A: Agency work would certainly be an option for you in order to supplement your income. Ad-hoc support workers are vital for most residential units to fill morning, evening or weekend shifts. Working through an agency will allow you to dip in and out when it suits your needs, and there is never an obligation to accept a regular shift. Your flexibility, in terms of the type of work you are seeking and your willingness to travel, will determine your choices.

Your agency consultants will help you through the procedures by carrying out checks on your full employment history and references. They will also process a CRB check. It is worth mentioning that the vetting process must also include a reference from your current employer. Therefore it is worth asking them whether they agree to you supplementing your hours elsewhere. Also, be aware of the 48-hour working rule and rest times. If you are working all day, it is not advisable to do a night shift elsewhere, as this amount of work will have a detrimental effect on you and those you work with.

Once the application is completed, specify your preferred working days and times. Your agency will add you to staff availability lists, which helps identify when to contact you about job opportunities that fit around your family and work commitments. Rather than waiting for ad-hoc shifts to be called in, recruitment agencies will contact clients from your area of expertise directly to inform them of your experience and availability. If your hours are not the same week in and week out, you should contact your agency consultant as soon as you know what your schedule will be.

Consultancies also offer a full out-of-hours service, meaning agents are contactable by clients and candidates 24/7 to fill overnight client requirements. Another tip is to register as part of the pool of staff that is available at very short notice. This way you can be the first to know when shifts come in during the weekend or in the evening.

Richard Smith is health and social care director at social care recruitment firm Beresford Blake Thomas

13 November question:

I am a senior social worker in adult physical disabilities services who is looking for a new challenge, either in children’s services or a legal setting. I am ready to commit myself to study but only if I can see clearly what social work or related jobs I can apply for at the end of it. Can you advise me on what options might be available to me? We will answer this question in the 13 November issue of Community Care.

We want to publish your career dilemmas and advice too – please send it to derren.hayes by 6 November.

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