In a fast-paced local authority environment where those responsible for filling social work vacancies often have dozens of CVs to sift through, it is important to make yours as effective as possible. This article will give some brief tips about guiding principles to help your social work CV stand out.
1. What to avoid
Some of the things that makes me immediately disregard a CV are: bad formatting; a CV that is not up to date; and too many pages. We get sent so many CVs that to look through them all properly would take far too long. We need to immediately be able to glance at the first page, know the worker’s current job and their basic details.
2. Less is more
Less is always more when it comes to a CV. As managers, we know what the role of a social worker is on a child protection team, so instead keep it very brief and expand on the things that you did above and beyond the role. This can include specialisms, additional roles, or unique experiences. Also try and keep things relevant to the position you are applying for. If it is a social work job, I do not need to know what grades you got at school, or the retail jobs you did at the same time.
3. Know how far you will travel
A lot of people apply for jobs and their home address is far away. This generally results in a phone call having to be made to clarify the address and how far people are willing to travel. So often, we get applicants saying that they will do the journey, and then they turn up for the interview and say it is too far. It is important to make it clear if you are applying for a job far from home, that travelling is not an issue. If I do not have the time, I will not even make the phone call to clarify how far someone is willing to travel, I will just dismiss the applicant, even if their CV is good.
4. Contact details
Always ensure your contact details are up to date and put what mode of contact you prefer. I have called many people who do not have an answering machine facility and I will rarely follow these up if I cannot leave a message on the first attempt.
5. How ASYEs can stand out
There has been an influx in ASYE applications. Generally, organisations will grow their own. Many local authorities now have Frontline Units who need to be placed as ASYEs within the organisation, and then there will be students who were placed in the organisation that will have inside knowledge and an edge in interviews. ASYE interviews are probably the most competitive simply because they appear to be the most in-demand positions.
It is imperative if you are applying for an ASYE position in an organisation different from where you were placed that your CV really stands out above others. In this case, previous jobs related to social work or even volunteer work is key. It is also important to come knowing about the organisation, not asking too many questions as you can come across as unprepared. As stated, internal applicants will have the edge on information about the organisation, so it is impressive when people attend interviews knowing about the place they have applied to work.
With time, we would be able to do a much closer inspection of CVs that come through, but often social work is crisis driven and staff turnover is generally high, so making extra effort on a CV is well worth it to ensure you are not overlooked when managers are going through a huge amount of CVs.
This article is part of Community Care’s Careers Zone, an expanding part of the site giving social workers and social care professionals advice and guidance about the next steps in their social work career. Community Care’s Careers Zone is produced in collaboration with practicing social workers and managers and in association with the Local Government Association’s workforce and policy team. See all of our tips on the dedicated careers page. Download our social work CV template and advice page here.