Graduate Series: 5 Tips for Sourcing Your First Social Work Role

April 2023 by Tradewind Australia

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Ready to step out into the world as a social work professional? As a recent graduate, you’ll know that an exciting and highly rewarding career awaits you! But first, there are just a few more steps to take.

When you’re trying to land your first social work job, you may find university has only prepared you for part of the journey. Getting into job hunting mode can feel intimidating if you haven’t got much work experience.

Remember, everyone in the field was a graduate once! Having a plan can help you overcome worries and be more effective in your job search. Here at Tradewind, we have many years of experience helping social work grads find their first job in Australia, so we’ve compiled here the most essential advice for people fresh from university.

Polish Your CV

Before searching for social work graduate jobs, preparing your professional CV will be your first step. Whether you’re applying for jobs online or have a friend who knows somebody who is hiring, anyone you speak to about a position will expect you to have a CV ready to give them. And once you’ve crafted your CV, building your LinkedIn profile is a cinch!

Your CV is the very first impression most employers will have of you, so be sure to make it clear and error-free. To boost your hiring potential, tailor your CV to each job application. Highlight your skills, accomplishments, and experiences relevant to the job you are applying for.

Remember that employers won’t expect you to be highly skilled, but they will look for signs of your diligence and passion for the field. If you worked a part-time job or internship while studying, or volunteered, including that on your CV will show you’re ready for your first social work job.

Build Your Network

This is the best time in your career to start building up your professional network. You can establish positive connections and friendships that last for years to come.

Attend career fairs, join professional associations (such as the Australian Association of Social Workers) and use social media to connect with professionals in your field. Networking will also help you stay ahead of new research, legislation and other developments that impact social work.

When you do strike up a friendship, remember that you’ll only keep it if you stay in touch! Scheduling coffee catchups and regularly interacting with new friends online are good ways to maintain your network over time.

Prepare for Interviews

Interviews can be stressful, but the good news is they do get easier with more experience! Preparing beforehand will give you a strong self-confidence boost. When you’re relaxed before an interview, it’s easier to let your personality naturally shine through.

So, how do you prepare? Researching the organisation, rehearsing answers to common interview questions and preparing questions to ask the interviewer are the best ways to ace an interview. Be ready to discuss why you’ve applied for the role, how you can add value to the company, your long-term career goals and how they align with the mission of the organisation.

Your personal presentation is just as important. It’s hard to go wrong with wearing business-appropriate clothing, so be sure to dress for the occasion. Your body language can be just as important as what you say during the interview, so don’t forget to smile and make eye contact. These small gestures not only show you are personable – they can also help you relax more!

Patience and Positivity Are Vital

There are times when job searches can take longer than expected. After several rejection emails, a feeling that you’re unemployable may even start to creep in. But rejection is a normal part of the job search game — the key is to not take it personally! Stay positive, stay focused, and keep applying.

Traits that are useful in social work, such as resilience, a positive mindset and the ability to connect with others, can also serve you well when job hunting. Remember to take care of yourself, stay connected with others and celebrate small successes along the way.

If you feel like you’re not making progress, consider internships or volunteer work to gain experience and build your network. The right opportunity will come, so being patient and persistent will help you get there.

Connect with a Social Work Recruitment Agency

Believe it or not, reaching out to a social work recruitment agency is one of the easiest ways to find your first social work job. The best agencies have wide networks of employers in Australia and can help you access opportunities that are not advertised to the public — two advantages that graduates benefit from the most.

Once you submit your CV to a social work recruitment agency, a consultant will arrange an introductory interview with you to identify what types of jobs you’re looking for and your key skills. This allows the agency to contact you as soon as a suitable opportunity appears, so when you get a call about a new position, it’s much more likely you’re a good match.

When searching for a suitable agency, look for those who have proven experience in recruiting people for social work graduate jobs and can ‘speak the language’ of social work. Good quality agencies will communicate with you regularly and throughout the job search process, providing updates and feedback on your application and interviews.

Reach Out to Tradewind Recruitment

You have likely decided to complete a social work degree because you’re passionate about making a difference in people's lives. To find your first social work job, combining your enthusiasm with a little preparation will help you stand out as a candidate with strong potential.

For more job search tips, or help with finding Social Work graduate jobs, contact the team at Tradewind Australia today. We specialise in matching social work graduates and professionals to jobs across government, not-for-profit and private sectors.