Five top tips for completing social work job applications

When it comes to securing that vital first role as a social worker, candidates are finding themselves in an increasingly competitive environment.

Jonathan Wadsworth, director of recruitment agency Charles Hunter Associates, explains how to make your local authority job application stand out

When it comes to securing that vital first role as a social worker candidates are finding themselves in an increasingly competitive environment.  As such it has never been more important to ensure you are approaching job applications in the right way. 

When I speak to many of my experienced candidates they are not aware just how important it is to provide a correctly completed local authority application form.  Many for example do not know that they are scored and shortlisted on the information provided.  Here are my top tips when applying to permanent local authority social work roles:

1. Place the CV to one side. In almost all cases a local authority will have its own recruitment process which involves completing an application form unique to them.  In these instances CVs will not be accepted. 

2. Prepare your application and take your time. Rushed application forms will result in poor grammar and spelling which in the eyes of a prospective employer is not good.  They need to know you will be able to write clear, precise and grammatically correct reports.   

3. What is your skill set?  Give yourself the best chance.  Look back at your placements as they will have provided you with essential experience. By applying to positions relevant to your placements / experience you will be increasing your chances of success. 

4. The written statement section.  This is the most important part of the application process.  Every application has this section and as such I strongly recommended that you consider the following:

a) Brainstorm your experience. Think back to your placements and any other relevant work you have completed.  Get a notepad and jot down your experience in relation to the role you are applying for.  The aim here is to find examples that you can use in the written statement.

b) Read the job description and person specification. The written statement part of the application form is looking for evidence that you have what is required with reference to the person specification and job description.  Make sure you read the specifications thoroughly and state how you meet the criteria.

c) Keep it relevant. Avoid unnecessary waffle.   Hiring managers have to shortlist many applications.  If you can clearly and concisely demonstrate your experience with relevance to the post and how you meet their specified criteria that is all that is needed to score well.

d) Refer to relevant legislation and processes. The hiring manger will see you have a grasp of the core requirements of the position. 

e) Don’t cut and paste between application forms. Every written statement section of an application is different – if you are too generic and do not read the criteria you may miss out on being shortlisted.

5. Quality Control.  Make sure you check spelling and even get someone to proof read it if possible.  A second pair of eyes can easily pick up grammatical errors and spelling mistakes. 

(Pic: OJO Images/Rex Features)

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