Application processes lasting months, layers of corporate speak and lost documents are just some of the bad experiences social workers have had when applying for jobs, according to research by Community Care and the advertising agency TMP.
The research, which involved a survey of 2,100 social workers and a series of in-depth interviews, found 37% reported bad experiences when applying for social work jobs.
Social workers bemoaned jargon-filled adverts that fail to communicate what the role is about with half saying that job adverts did not make it clear what they would be doing if they were hired.
“You have to get through the corporate speak,” said one worker. “They all say the same things – all the bumf about themselves and how great it is to work there, that’s all bullshit, it’s the real nuts and bolts of what the job is that’s important.”
Rejected job offers
Those interviewed for the study said they had turned down jobs due to bad experiences during the application process, including documents getting lost, a lack of communication and interviewers who could not answer their questions.
One social worker told the researchers: “To be honest, I’m a month into this job, and because of the appalling recruitment process I’ve started on the wrong foot. I’m already thinking about moving on.”
Social workers often see HR as dysfunctional, said Reed Business Insight, the research company that carried out the study for Community Care and TMP.
When asked what would make them more likely to apply for a job, more than 99% of social workers said having their application acknowledged and good communication throughout the process. Short application forms were identified by 95% and 98% wanted feedback on their applications.
83% of social workers said that lengthy application forms would put them off applying for a job and 70% said they would be less likely to apply for posts if a personality test is involved.
Some said having a chance to do unpaid work within the organisation would be a better demonstration of their capabilities than the usual interview.
“Offer the chance to do a ‘work day’ so the candidate can be assessed on their performance a part of the interview process,“ suggested one social worker.
- Don’t sugar coat the job. Be transparent about caseloads, staffing and opportunities.
- Don’t use corporate jargon or generic terminology – give a clear and specific description of the role.
- Provide information at every stage about the progress of the application and the role itself.
- Offer the chance for an informal ‘pre-interview’ phone chat or chance to spend some time with team.
- Take a personal interest in the individual and their skills rather than treating applicants as a ‘tick in a box’.
- Consider social workers with relevant skills even if they haven’t worked in the exact same area before.