Making a Career Change from Social Work to Recruitment

June 2019 by Brenda Willey

Making A Career Change From Social Work To Recruitment

Before beginning my career in Social Work recruitment, I came from a background as a Social Worker. I completed my bachelor’s degree in the United States, and after University I began working with senior citizens in a community rehab program. This started my love for Aged Care, and I continued to work in various rehab and long-term care roles for the next seven years.

In 2011, I made the move to Australia on a working holiday visa. As my Social Work qualification could not be transferred to Australia, I decided it was time for a change and went in search of something else I was passionate about. I’d had experience with Tradewind Australia as a candidate, having done some locum roles for them some years ago. Through a mutual connection, I heard about a vacancy that had become available, and I joined the Tradewind team as a Social Work recruiter in mid-2018.

Although recruitment was a step away from my previous field and I didn’t really know what to expect, the genuine passion and dedication I witnessed from the team at Tradewind inspired me to make the change. I was happy to discover I could continue making a difference and caring for people’s needs in my day to day work with candidates and clients.

Navigating the Changes and Challenges

It’s been almost a year since my transition from Social Work into the world of recruitment and at this time, I’ve experienced a number of exciting changes and challenges. Besides the expected difference in Social Work laws and regulations between the US and Australia, one of the most daunting challenges I faced when becoming a recruiter was sales.

I’ve never seen myself as a salesperson and it’s not something that came naturally to me. However, with support and assurance from my team, I was able to adjust my perspective from “what can I sell to my clients?” to “how can I HELP my clients?” As a Social Worker, helping is an innate part of my personality, so changing the way I approached my new role allowed me to wear my Social Work hat again and serve as an advocate for the needs of both my clients and candidates.

Another big change I experienced is that, as a Social Worker, I was used to responding to my clients’ needs. In contrast, with recruitment there is an element of being proactive, in the sense that I am contacting individuals, asking if they want to make a change in their career and if so, I am here to be an advocate and support them throughout the process.

I’ve been extremely fortunate to join a team like Tradewind, who are passionate about their work, invested in the roles they recruit and genuinely supportive of one another. The open and positive environment meant I never felt pigeon-holed, as there was room for flexibility in my role. In particular, my manager, David Rogers, and colleague, Danni Arthur, have both served as mentors, helping me deal with challenges and providing extra guidance. This made the transition between two completely different worlds so much easier!

Recruitment Through a Social Work Lens

The skills and personality traits I gained through Social Work have proved extremely valuable to a career in Social Work recruitment, being more informed in my approach to both my clients’ and candidates’ needs. Having worked in the industry for so long, I understand the skills required for different roles and I know what to look for on resumes, meaning I can better match clients and candidates.

I’m a naturally empathetic person and operate from the golden rule of treating others the way I want to be treated. This has helped me in recruitment by making it easier to build trusted relationships with clients and candidates. The key to a successful transition was widening my perspective to see and understand the purpose behind tasks. My work is not just about filling Social Work jobs – I’m also helping candidates by caring for their needs and ensuring I’m recruiting the best people for an industry that I’m passionate about.


When I moved to Australia eight years ago, I never thought I’d end up in recruitment, but it turned out to be a great change in which I could continue to pursue my love for Social Work. As a Social Work recruiter, I see the hard work the Tradewind team puts in every day and the passion that goes into filling each and every role. I’ve made wonderful friends along the way and look forward to doing more for Social Work through this incredible journey in Social Work recruitment.

If you’re looking for a new Social Work job or would like support with recruiting the best candidates in the industry, get in touch with me today.