How to write a CV to get your first job in social and community care
Putting together a great CV when you’re looking for a new job in the social and community care sector can seem difficult, but we will show you how to make the most of your skills and how to show an employer you’re ready for a career in care.
12th January 2012
Deciding to change job or to have a complete career change is always a daring and sometimes daunting undertaking, but you’re not starting completely from scratch. Neither are you starting from scratch if you’ve just finished school or college and are looking for your first job in the social and community care sector. Whichever situation you’re in, you have skills that will be useful for a social or community care employer, and you need to highlight those as much as possible on your CV.
Just because you don’t have employment experience in social care or community care doesn’t mean you don’t stand a chance of being employed. You have to make the most of the skills you’ve gained in other areas of your life and / or work history and draw attention to how those can be applied in various social care jobs.
Compile all the information to go in your CV
This tends to be more applicable to people writing their first CV, but it’s still a good exercise to undertake if you already have a CV in existence. Remember you’re applying for a job in a totally new sector, so a new CV is required.
Changing career to social care: If you’re changing your career and moving into social and community care, this section is for you. I would recommend that even if you have an old CV to start afresh for this new stage in your career. Feel free to use your old CV for reference but I would suggest a new layout and a new approach.
Start off by mapping out your employment history in reverse chronological order including in each one the job title, company name, dates of employment, responsibilities and skills gained. It’s the responsibilities you’ve managed and the skills you’ve acquired that will be of particular interest to a social care or community care employer.
Try to identify the jobs you’ve worked in that have helped you develop skills such as communication, team work, leadership, ability to manage own workload, responsibility for your own actions and time management. By highlighting these skills in as many of your previous employments as possible, a potential employer can see how capable you would be in their job vacancy and how many of the essential skills you already have.
First job in social care: If you’ve never written a CV before, or are applying for your first ever job, then this section is for you. If you’re just finishing full-time education and have either never worked before or only had a saturday job, it’s easy to think you don’t have enough to put into a successful CV. That couldn’t be further from the truth, but you need to understand how to make the most of the experience you do have rather than worrying about that which you don’t.
You will need to write a dedicated section about your personal qualities and the skills you have, which will be relevant to a role in the social and community care sector. If you are selected for interview you will probably be asked to give examples of real life situations that helped you develop these skills, so don’t state anything unless you can prove it. Think of examples when you can illustrate how you gained skills such as working in a team, communicating with others, managing your own workload and working within your limitations.
Next on your CV should come your qualifications. Include the name of the institution you studied at, the name of the course you took, the grade achieved and date. If you’ve studied any kind of course in childcare or health and social care, than you should take the time to go into detail about your course. This is one of the primary factors that will influence you getting you a job, and if you’ve studied a course in care you’re immediately more attractive to an employer.
Put your CV into a logical order
As with any CV you need to put your name, address, email address, landline and mobile phone numbers at the very top of the document. You shouldn’t ever start your CV with the words ‘Curriculum Vitae’. It’s perfectly obvious what the document is and an employer is far more likely to remember your name if that’s the first thing they read rather than an old latin phrase!
The final layout of your CV is subjective according to the length of your previous of employment history and whether you feel that's most relevant to put near the top, but however you decide to arrange your CV you need to consider that an employer will only have a few seconds to initially evaluate your CV. They will be scanning over it with these questions in mind:
1 - Is this person local to my job vacancy? And if not, have they said they will re-locate?
2 - Do they have a phone number and email address I can contact them on?
3 - Do they have a relevant qualification for my job vacancy?
4 - If not, do they have skills that combined with the mandatory training will make the competent?
5 - Do the have basic numeracy and literacy skills?
6 - Are they able to communicate well, work independently and according to pre-set requirements?
7 - Do they have a full driving licence?
A good covering letter will enhance your CV
You should write a new covering letter each time you make an application, and it should always be relevant to the job you’re applying for. A good covering letter will enhance your CV and ensure the employer takes the time to consider you as a serious candidate. Take time to read the job description of the vacancy in full and take a note of the essential and desired criteria given in the person specification. You can use this in your covering letter to draw attention to the skills and experience you have that match the requirements of the employer.
Make sure your covering letter is not longer than 3 paragraphs. In the first paragraph you should introduce yourself, say why you want the job and summarise the qualities you can bring to the role. In the second paragraph go into detail about as many of the skills you have from the essential criteria list. In the final paragraph you should mention any volunteering work you’ve undertaken that might be relevant and any extra-curricular activities you’ve taken part in where you could have learnt skills that will be useful in your social care career.
Competition for social care jobs and community care jobs is fierce at the moment, so you have to make the effort with every application you make. Don't get disheartened if you're not successful straight away, use the experience to get feedback from the employer about your application and make any changes to your CV that they suggest.