Career clinic: returning to work from overseas

Q: “I’m about to return to the UK after working overseas as a social worker for several years. I’m not sure about the job market where should I start looking and will the skills I gained abroad be recognised back in the UK?”

A: There are many good jobs for social workers at the moment. You clearly have access to and the magazine. Both list social work roles at different levels of seniority that are advertised at various organisations.

If you have a particular organisation in mind or would like to work in a specific area more detailed searches can also be advantageous – many smaller organisations can’t easily afford advertising costs and therefore use their own websites to publicise variations, so it pays to check these too.

I hope most organisations would recognise the skills you have developed while you’ve been away and would consider these to be a significant benefit. There are huge variations in social work practice around the world and the way practitioners work in the UK may differ significantly from other countries.

Experience in a social care setting internationally has no doubt offered you the chance to develop new skills and gain a fresh insight into different practice models (which you could adapt or develop in your new role), all within a different culture, so I am sure that your flexibility and resilience will also have been exercised.

Each of these skills and experiences is important and will be ­useful in your new role. The next step is the way you “sell” these skills on an application form, so be sure to take your time.

It is not easy writing a confident, concise and eloquent application form (especially if you are not convinced of your skills), so the sooner you can start the better. The more you draft something, the easier it gets.

Recruitment processes can take time, so as long as you are ­honest in your application about when you are due to move back, there is no reason why you can’t start applying now.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, focus on the positives – it sounds simple I know, but you would be amazed how many people start off talking (in both application and interview) about what they can’t do.

You are in a strong position, so rather than worrying that people may not recognise your skills, think of them as valuable assets.

Mary Jackson is project manager of the Reclaim Social Work campaign at Hackney Council

4 December QUESTION

“Wherever I’ve worked there has been tension between the administrators and client workers. It feels uncomfortable but is it inevitable?”

We will answer this question in the 4 December issue of Community Care. We want to publish your advice – please send it to Derren Hayes by 27 November.

Do you have your own career dilemma? Send your comments or questions to Derren Hayes

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