25/01/2016

Qualifications vs Experience: What Social Care Recruiters are Looking for

Having been to college to gain a Preliminary Social Care qualification and then two Level 3 NVQ's in Caring for Children & Young people. As well as having over 25yrs of experience working in Social Care I agree working in social care is one of the most rewarding careers you can go into. Every day brings a different challenge and you can revel in the fact that you are making a real difference in the lives of children, families and vulnerable groups. Completing your qualifications and training is a cause for celebration as you edge one step closer to your first job. When newly qualified, however, many social work professionals express real concern that they have lots of qualifications but little or no concrete experience to call upon when applying for social work jobs. Others would love to work in the field but don't have the formal exams or can't afford to put themselves through a 3-year degree course. Here's a guide to what social care recruiters are really looking for from potential applicants.

Work experience counts!

If you've completed a social work degree you will have had to have some work experience before being accepted onto the course. You may not think that work experience counts for anything, but it really is a great way to gain a thorough understanding of the field of social work. Relevant experience could include volunteering at a youth group or food bank, helping out at a local special needs school or doing a stint for a telephone advice service such as Crisis or Childline. Do bring this experience up in interviews and on your application form and try if you can to link it into answers. If you are asked the question, "how did you solve a problem in a social care setting?", for instance, you may not have had a formal job but you can certainly talk about how you resolved an issue when you were volunteering. For more details about the importance of relevant work experience, have a look at this Target Jobs article:
Formal qualifications not always necessary.

To work as a social worker in the UK you will need to complete a degree in the subject, however there are many social care jobs for which formal qualifications are not necessarily required. Working as a social worker assistant, for instance, is a job where employers will look more closely at experience than how many exams you passed. You will need to be adaptable and practical, as well as have empathy and plenty of understanding. Supporting the professional team, working as a social worker assistant is a rewarding job where your personality can shine through. The National Careers Service has more details on their website.


Working as a care assistant is another job where you can make a real difference to people's lives without having formal qualifications. Your work could range from helping the elderly to dress and wash to supporting a child with physical difficulties at school. A friendly manner and a great deal of understanding is required. For more details, click on the National Careers Service care assistant page here.

Photo creidt: National careers service
I love what I do on the whole, working with children and young people with disabilities....it's what I've always done! An often difficult job that many enjoy with lots of highs and lows. I went into it with my eyes open and have never looked back.



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