Looking for a new job can be a daunting process, particularly in the current market. Recruitment expert Jonathan Coxon offers tips for social workers on the key factors to consider.
Research, research, research
Always research prospective employers and roles: consult the organisation’s website, study the job description carefully and speak to your recruitment consultant. The internet can give you access to a wealth of information. Use message boards or forums to consult fellow social workers about the role.
Use the interview to gather information. Arm yourself with intelligent questions to gain clarity about the role and impress the interviewer.
Training and support
Look into the types of training you will have access to. How is the training provided? What will it cover? How will it help you develop professionally? Will you be given the time to fulfil your PRTL requirements?
Try to find out about supervision, especially if you are newly qualified. The Social Work Reform Board has stipulated that social workers should receive at least 90 minutes of regular, uninterrupted supervision. Ideally, these sessions should be weekly for the first six weeks of employment for a newly qualified worker, fortnightly for the next six months, and at least monthly after that.
Will your caseload be manageable? Find out whether your prospective employer has a transparent system to allocate work, a means of collecting information about workload within teams and a contingency plan if caseloads exceed staffing capacity. Some organisations may offer protected caseloads, especially for newly qualified staff.
You may also like to look into what kinds of cases you will be looking after and whether the role will give you the variety and challenge you want. Regardless of your experience, would there be some time to become accustomed to your new role, or would you be expected to hit the ground running?
The “little things” count
Will you be given practical tools, such as an effective case recording IT system, access to the internet and a mobile phone, and safe transport for visiting service users?
There are many other non-financial factors to a role that can influence your decision. You may want to consider a local authority’s star rating, the availability of flexible working hours, the level of autonomy, whether administrative support is available, opportunities for progression and personal development, as well as other benefits.
Location and travel
How easily will you be able to travel to your new workplace? Ideally, do a dry run at rush hour. This will give you an accurate picture of the time involved, and whether it could fit in with your other commitments.
Jonathan Coxon is managing director of social work recruitment consultancy Liquid Personnel.
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