BackBack to menu

Forgotten password

Enter your email address. We'll send you a link to reset your password

Niche Jobs - Privacy Policy

Why do we have a Privacy Policy?

It is really important to us that we keep any personal information that you give to us safe and secure and whilst we realise that it is not the most interesting of subjects, we would encourage you to read our Privacy Policy as it gives you important information about your personal information and your rights.

Our website provides a platform that can be used by job seekers to find jobs and for employers to advertise vacancies and look for suitable candidates. You can set up your own account and have complete control of the personal information that you give us and what we do with it.

We will always be open with you and so we have written this policy to tell you:

  • What personal information you can give us
  • How we may use your personal information (if you agree)
  • Who we work with to provide your account and our website
  • Where we keep your personal information
  • How long we keep your personal information
  • How we keep your personal information safe
  • Your choices and rights

This website is owned and operated by Niche Jobs Limited. When you have any comments or queries about this website please contact us at and a HUMAN will reply.

We last updated this Privacy Policy on 13.04.18.

Personal Information you give to us

Setting up an account or using our website

You may provide us with the following information about yourself:

  • your name and address
  • your contact details including email address and telephone number
  • other information to allow us to provide the services you have requested
  • your CV/details relating to your qualifications and experience
  • what sector you are interested in
  • what jobs you are applying for and have applied for previously

Other times you can give us personal information

You can give us information when you:

  • Set up an account on our website
  • Apply for a position that we are advertising on behalf of an employer
  • Submit a CV to our website
  • Sign up for our newsletter (blog notifications)
  • Sign up for a job alert email
  • Save a job
  • Comment on a blog
  • Contact us via email or by telephone for any reason


Cookies are text files that sites store on users' computers. They make sites easier to use. They don't do anything to your own computer (they can't run software or send viruses).

As said, our cookies are used to improve your experience of our site.

We don't follow or track your own personal movements on the site. It provides us with information that isn't personally identifiable. And it also allows us to make your experience of the site better. For instance, when you hit Apply and have to register, you might want to land back on the page you started on.

Remember that you may be able to set your cookie preferences via your browser. But be aware that many sites may not work properly, or as easily, once you do this.

To find out more read our Cookies Policy.

How we may use your Personal Information

With your agreement, we may use your personal information:

  • to process your request to be added to our CV database
  • to pass on to an employer where you have told us you wish to apply for a specific position
  • to pass on to employers looking for candidates like you where you have given us permission to do so
  • to pass on to recruitment agencies who are seeking to fill positions that you have indicated to us that you are interested in and you have given us permission to do this
  • to fulfil any contracts you have entered into with us
  • to tailor the services that we offer to you with your needs and interests
  • comply with our legal obligations
  • to tell you about changes to our services or website
  • to help us develop our website to make it better for all users
  • to get your feedback on our website and services
  • to administer our website (such as troubleshooting, data analysis, research)
  • to keep our website safe and secure

Our legal basis for using your information

The law only allows us to use your personal information in certain limited circumstances. We have listed these below and what information they allow us to process.

1. With your consent

With your agreement we may:

  • set up an account on our website
  • process your request to be added to our CV database
  • provide your details to an employer where you have told us you wish to apply for a specific position
  • provide your details to employers looking for candidates like you
  • to pass on to recruitment agencies who are seeking to fill positions that you have indicated to us that you are interested in and you have given us permission to do this

2. When we have a contract with you

We may use your information to comply with a contract that we have entered into with you:

  • to provide the services you have requested
  • to administer and provide the website (such as troubleshooting, data analysis & research)
  • to tell you about changes to our website or our services
  • to help us (or our software developers) improve the website

3. Where it is necessary for our legitimate interests

We may provide you with marketing information about our own products and services similar to those that you have purchased or enquired about (unless you tell us to stop).

4. To comply with a legal obligation

We do this when we have to comply with legislation such as tax laws.

Our Marketing

We may provide you with information about products, services, special offers, and other news where we feel these may interest you.

Depending on what contact information you have given to us, we may contact you by email or post. We will only do this where you have consented to receiving such information from us.

You can opt out of such marketing at any time and If you wish to do so, please email us at

Working with other organisations

Employers and Recruitment Agencies

With your consent we will make available your 'CV Profile' with hiring employers and recruitment agencies. If you want to see the current list of employers and recruitment agencies, please see here.

When you submit your information you are given a choice as to whether you want your details to be visible to companies advertising on our website, our options are:

  • By selecting hiring organisations to contact you we will allow employers and recruitment agencies to view your CV Profile if they are looking for candidates for positions that you have indicated to us that you are interested in.
  • By selecting to 'Hide' this option your information will only be visible to the company whose job you have applied for and yourself and the staff of Niche Jobs Ltd for administrative purposes.

We are not a recruitment agency and we provide our website and services to you free of charge to allow a simple and easy way to access your future job. As such we do not have any control over how an employer or recruitment agency deals with your information once they have downloaded it from our database and they make their own decisions as to what to do with your personal information. We do ensure that any organisation who accesses your information has signed up to terms and conditions requiring that they deal with your information safely and securely and that they comply with the General Data Protection Regulation and any subsequent UK legislation.

If you have indicated to us that you wish to apply for jobs overseas, then we may provide your information to organisations who are not subject to the same data protection legislation that we have in force in the UK. In these cases, we only deal with organisations who have agreed to deal with your information in line with GDPR and UK legislation.

Other third parties

In order to provide your account and our website we may have to allow our trusted partners to have access to your personal information. These organisations include:

  • Our business partners, suppliers and sub-contractors for the performance of any contract we enter into with them or you
  • Our website developers who need to see your information in order to keep our website up and running

We work with the following organisations:

What laws we may have to comply with

We may have to disclose your personal information to third parties:

  • If we sell our business in which case the personal information that we hold will be part of the transferred assets
  • If we are required by law, or in order to enforce or apply our terms of use. This includes exchanging information with other organisations for the purposes of fraud protection and credit risk reduction

Third Party Privacy Policies

Our site may contain links to websites owned by other organisations. If you follow a link to another website, these websites they will have their own privacy policy.  We suggest that you check the policies of any other websites before giving them your personal information as we cannot accept responsibility for any other website.

Where we keep your Personal Information

Storage of Personal Information

We are committed to ensuring that our suppliers have appropriate technical, administrative and physical procedures in place to ensure that your information is protected against loss or misuse. All personal information you provide to us is stored on our secure servers or on secure servers operated by a third party located in the EEA.

All third parties who provide services or software to us are required to sign a contract requiring them to have appropriate technical, administrative and physical procedures in place to ensure that your information is protected against loss or misuse.

Retention of information

We will store your CV Profile (name, email, employment history etc) for as long as you wish us to.

At any time you can login to add to it, edit it or remove it completely.

After a year of first registering a process will start to regularly remind you that you are storing your file with us.

As soon as there has been a period of 12 months since you last logged in we will:

  • a. automatically 'Hide' your CV Profile (even if you originally consented to it)
  • b. email you*
  • c. make it clear how you can add to your CV Profile (to add new qualifications, update your recent employment records etc), edit your details or remove everything completely
  • * if your email no longer receives we'll delete your records since you won't be able to log in to do it yourself or receive our notices that it needs updating

Plus, we will email you 6 months after you last logged in to remind you to hide your CV Profile if it is still visible.

And we will stay in touch to remind you that you are using the site to store your CV Profile for future easy use throughout your entire career.

If we do not have hear from you (if you do not login), we will delete your account after 5 years.


If you chose to send us information via email, we cannot guarantee the security of this information until it is delivered to us.

Your rights

Access to your information

You have the right to access information that we hold about you. If you wish to receive a copy of the information that we hold, please contact at or write to us at the address above

Changing or deleting your information

You can ask us at any time to change, amend or delete the information that we hold about you or ask us not to contact you with any further marketing information. You can also ask us to restrict the information that we process about you.

You can request that we change, amend, delete your information or restrict our processing by emailing us at

You can also login to see all the information you have given us about your career profile to do the above yourself, at any time.

Right to prevent Automated decision making

You have a right to ask us to stop any automated decision making. We do not intentionally carry out such activities, but if you do have any questions or concerns we would be happy to discuss them with you and you can contact us at

Transferring Personal Information

You have the right to request that your personal information is transferred by us to another organisation (this is called "data portability"). Please contact us at with the details of what you would like us to do and we will try our best to comply with your request. If may not be technically feasible, but we will work with you to try and find a solution.


If you make a request to us under this Privacy Policy and you are unhappy with the response, you can ask for the request to be reviewed under our internal complaints procedure. Our internal complaints procedure allows your request to be reviewed by Managing Director who will do their best to try and resolve the issue.

If you have been through the internal complaints procedure and are still not happy with the result, then you have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner's Office. They can be contacted as follows:


Telephone: 03031231113


Information Commissioners Office
Wycliffe House, Water Lane
Wilmslow, Cheshire, SK9 5AF

Changes to our Privacy Policy

We review our Privacy Policy on a frequent basis to check that it accurately reflects how we deal with your information and may amend it if necessary. You should check this page regularly to see the most up to date information.

How to Contact us

We welcome questions, comments and requests regarding this Privacy Policy which can be sent to

  • 22 August 2013
  • 40 min read

How to qualify for and find a job as a social worker

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

Social work isn't the type of job you can jump straight into. This post explains the qualifications and experience you need, plus tips on how to write up your CV and ace your interview.

Becoming a social worker is a wonderful thing to do and we applaud you for it. The opportunity to help people find the best path in life available is a truly admirable aim and one that will show you many different worlds.

There are all kinds of ways that social workers can benefit society and the people around them. Perhaps you are interested in working with truant youth to help them see the benefit in schooling or with families that need parenting support.

Other social workers focus on those with learning difficulties or mental health issues to ensure they access the services they need and, most importantly, build a life that reflects their values and interests.

You can find social worker jobs in all kinds of different places too – hospitals, schools, care homes, supported living, family homes and the police station, to name but a few.

Getting that social worker qualification

To become a social worker, you must secure a three-year Bachelor's degree course or use your current degree course to complete a two-year conversion postgraduate course that has been approved by the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC).

It's unlikely that you'll find social worker post-graduate courses that aren't approved but do be careful to double-check! As with any job in the health and social care field, you'll also need to pass background checks via the Disclosure and Barring Service – more known known as the DBS and formerly the CRB.

I don't have a degree yet

If you're in a position to apply for your first degree, then the three-year Bachelor's degree is the route for you.First, you need 5 GCSEs or the equivalent (such as Scottish Standard Grades, BTECs, NVQs Level 1 and 2 or the 14-19 Diplomas) with English Language and Maths at C or above. You also must have A Levels or the equivalent (Scottish Highers, a Scottish or International Baccalaureate or college courses like NVQs Levels 3 and 4).

To show your capability via A Levels, you'll need at least 2 with grades that add up to 240-280 points (240 could be 2 A's or 3 C's; 280 could be 2 A*'s or 2 B's and a C).

If you have relevant BTECs, 240 points are equivalent to a Diploma with 2 Distinctions or an Extended Diploma with 3 Merits.

Another option available to those without quite enough UCAS points is to start with a lower-level course. HNC courses and CertHE courses can also be considered stepping stones towards getting that full degree. These can be found on the UCAS website too.

However, every course will be slightly different. If you aren't coming down the traditional route of A Levels, email or call the course leader and have a talk with them about just what they want to see from you – you may be pleasantly surprised!

Although there will be certain levels of educational achievement you just have to be able to show your attitude, commitment and experiences will undoubtedly play a big part.

I've already got a degree but it's not in social work

This means you need to take a post-graduate degree course to 'convert' to social work. Fortunately, you don't have to have a first degree in a healthcare related field – it can usually be in any area. However, this changes from university to university so contact them if you are at all unsure.Entrance requirements for these degrees vary a great deal.

Some places want a First or a 2:1, some will consider a 2:2 and others just say they want 'a degree' – It all depends on the university. But a degree is not all you will need to achieve for post-graduate study.

Some universities have extra tests to complete, some will want to interview you and others will want to hear how a minimum number of months of previous experience in the field has shaped your expectations and desire to work in the area.

Again, if you are at all unsure of your suitability, just get in contact with course leader and have a talk about what you have and how far it will get you!

Gathering experience in the social work jobs field

Before you apply for your degree or post-graduate degree, you should probably work in the area. Not just so that your application sounds better and is more likely to succeed but so that you can confirm you do actually enjoy this kind of work.

There's no room for naiveté in social work – it's very hard work that isn't tremendously well-paid and it will be very stressful. All kinds of experience are possible – it doesn't necessarily have to be a paid job.

You must, however, perform this experience for a minimum of 4 months – some courses expect a full year of experience. Even better is a variety of experiences to show that you really do have a broad understanding of what social work and general care provision can entail.

You'd do well to contact course leaders and ask them what kind of experiences would be most impressive for them – it would be a real shame to spend a year doing something that doesn't actually help your application!

Types of experience that will contribute to your application are, essentially, anything in social care. Paid work as a support worker for an independent living service, a care worker in a nursing home, assisting in a special needs class or helping out at a local youth centre or youth program would all be good.

This kind of work demonstrates that you truly appreciate the types of pressures and events facing the people you will help.

Relevant voluntary work can be found at hospitals, charities, community groups, prisons and local voluntary organisations – finding these in the first place can be done online, in your local library, through the Citizens Advice Bureau or local council.

You may have a Volunteering network in your town as well.It is also possible to cite personal experience as relevant. For instance, working as a carer for a family member would give you a tremendously authentic understanding of the kinds of assistance and advocacy that family carers need.

Finally, there's an option for those who just don't have the time or opportunity to change their jobs or take on voluntary work. It is possible to keep a reflective diary where you note down your responses and thoughts regarding topical social care issues and news pieces.

The thrust behind this kind of project is to show your awareness and reflective attitudes towards the core issues affecting society – show what you've learnt from things and how this has developed and changed the way you think about them.

Don't just document what happened; write about how it affected your thought processes. Please note: we can't guarantee that this would be sufficient to get you a degree place so please, please double check with the course leader to see how they feel about reflective diaries.

CVs – Start from scratch and showcase your strengths

As you know, your CV needs to be amazing. To be amazing, it can't just list your job history – it needs to be accessible too and there's a few ways that allow you to make sure yours stands out from the herd.

Take your time and get it right – as a social worker, you need to be able to produce many reports. Poor English skills will be a problem. This doesn't mean that dyslexics need not apply or anything like that – just that you need to make sure you have strategies in place to produce what's needed.

And remember, it will be read by all kinds of people too: the manager running the job search, HR departments making sure that the company is hiring the right person and, increasingly, a computer scanning your electronic copy for certain keywords relating to the vacancy.

Let's start at the very beginning....

You're likely familiar with the very basics of an acceptable CV – you need a section about the job you're in now and one on your jobs held before, start and finish dates for both and a bit about your qualifications that make you right for the post.

This in itself won't be enough but let's start with these.

Some of you may find it pedantic to start with these basics but it's got to be done – our job boards process hundreds and hundreds and thousands of CVs and it is just amazing how many miss off something even simpler than the categories above:

They don't have usable names, telephone numbers or email addresses on them!

You may scoff but are your details correct? Are you sure? Is your voice mail message work-appropriate? Is your email still that one from when you were new online and seemed just about the coolest address you could have? There are many ways these basics can let you down on the job hunt.

So let's start at the very beginning....check your contact details so you can experience what it's like to contact you. Is it professional and is it easy?

Whilst we're at this early stage, there's something else we should talk about too...Is your English good English? Every word you use must be spelt and used correctly! If you've ever had any doubt at all about your spellings; if you're ignoring those wiggly red lines on your Word Processor because 'Oh, it's just the American spelling', get someone else to have a look.

If you hated creative writing in school or, conversely, loved to write lengthy screeds of purple prose, get someone to re-read it. We don't want any mistakes, nor must your reader become bored. And don't use 3 long words where one will do....

Polishing your CV until it gleams

So, we've got the basics of a good CV – job and qualification sections, good contact details and readable writing. Now, let's take it up a notch. A really good CV has three extra sections or categories of information that make it exceptionally easy for employers (and computers) to pinpoint you as a brilliant candidate:

Key skills, key words and your previous duties and responsibilities.

You've likely heard of key skills. These are your professional qualities; the things that make you the kind of worker you are. Every job wants someone who can problem-solve, stay organised and work in a team but also work alone as needed.

These are your 'soft skills'. However, these won't impress by themselves. And why should they? Being able to motivate yourself to work by yourself isn't anything special – it's the bare minimum you'd expect from an employee.

What you need to show are your 'hard skills'. What can you actually do?

Things like: making referrals, patient assessments or familiarity with specialised pieces of software like ICS and SWIFT, particular frameworks, plans and procedures (for instance, ISA procedures).

By being specific like this, it shows you have a genuine understanding of what the job really needs – or at least demonstrates your ability to specialise as needed.

These kinds of details are also useful for getting past the computer stage of application. As we mentioned before, computers will be looking for 'keywords' – just like you did when you ran a web search for 'writing a social worker CV' or 'social worker jobs'.

Make sure you have 'hard skill' keywords in there as well (that match the job description if possible) as the kinds of soft skills described in the person specification and it'll serve you well!

Next, you need to make sure these are inserted as appropriate into your job history's duties and responsibilities. Some people like to have a section itself for skills and choice responsibilities near the top of their CV.

This is very much a matter of personal choice – it's still a touch avant-garde in some professions so it's your call. If you're nervous about getting it right, don't bother – stay traditional.

How should my CV look?

Another crucial step in getting your CV employment-perfect is making sure that those wonderful words you chose are easy to read. Sometimes, we go down the 'make it stand out' path and this is not what you want! 'Exciting' fonts, pictures of yourself (or any pictures at all!), crowbarring in every last bit of information possible.....these are all things that will get you put in the 'no' pile.

The most important thing you can thinking about for formatting your CV is 'white space'.You know the bits above, below and around each of these sentences. White space.

White space is good because it allows our brains to process information more effectively – in fact, a study from 2004 found that use of white space in website design increased comprehension by 20%.

This is why your favourite blogs almost certainly aren't crammed with colours and pictures and animations – they're relatively simple and give you (literally) 'space to think'.

To help with this, keep your paragraphs and skill summaries short and sweet. Use simple but communicative English and include bullet points when it looks right.

CVs shouldn't be more than 2 pages long.

The standard used to be 1 page but now we are much more mobile between posts, 2 pages are acceptable. If you're struggling to get down to 2 pages, then there's things in there that just aren't relevant enough. It's always tempting to include every possible thing relevant to really hammer your point home but quality over quantity is key here.

Be brutal with your bullet points and trim your talking points.The final part of formatting we must touch on is the file format itself. Make sure, no matter your word processor, that it's saved as a .doc file.

This is a simple Windows format that virtually every word processor should be able to read. If you use something open-source, like Open Office or Libre Office, it's easy to forget to change this so be careful!

Filling the categories and doing your formatting justice

So, we have the fundamentals – your name, telephone and email address, all appropriate and work-friendly; formatting that makes it easy for the employer to see why you're the best choice and, lastly, the titles (if not the content as well) for skills, responsibilities and duties.

Next, we need to make sure the actual body is both packed with useful information, easy to understand and enjoyable to read. Before we get stuck in, let us make one thing clear.

It's okay to scrap your old CV and just start anew!

In some ways, this may seem like more hassle than it's worth but it can be quite a wonderful focusing activity. Perhaps, it's all that new white space, just ready to be filled – gives the brain a bit of lubrication!

First – your job history

Start off the job section with your current (or most recent) job with the especial skills, responsibilities and duties that entailed. Bullet points are a good bet here – they're easily readable and stand out to grab the attention of the reader.

Don't think you have to put every single job in here because you really don't. Applying for work as a social worker? Your supermarket job at 16 has absolutely no relevance. And neither does your bar work during university.

Employers like to insist that 'every gap in employment must be accounted for' but it's not possible on a modern CV. If they're desperate to know, they'll ask in the interview.

Stick to your most relevant posts with the most toothsome experiences and hard skills. Sometimes, you'll have something from outside of social work or care work that is relevant but it isn't particularly likely.

After this comes your professional skillsIf you haven't decided to keep your soft and hard skills in your job history entries, next is your professional skills section.

This is the place for the hard skills we talked about before – the real, meaningful things you can do that make you a valuable (and not merely likeable) employee. What are the specific processes you've experienced in previous jobs? Make it readable by keeping it simple. Be clear.

Next comes your qualifications

When you're applying for professions – you know, jobs with true responsibilities that impact other's lives and require at least one degree if not post-graduate work – you can leave out the GCSE and A Level scores.

By this point, it's not particularly relevant. Instead, put in your degree, any post-graduate work (especially if it was the qualification that made you employable in your professional career) and any professional development you've done since.

Don't worry too much about your placements if they're not directly relevant to the job you're applying for – either tease out the exceptionally-related facets of them or leave them out.

If you're a bit further along your career path and you have quite a lot of professional development, you can consider having a whole section for this.

And at the end, references

You don't have to actually provide names and addresses here; just write 'Available upon request'.

Moving on to your covering letter

When it comes to sending off your CV, you need a cover letter to go with it. It's not merely a formality where you reiterate the obvious (“Here's my CV!”) - it's a chance to really bring home just how wonderful you are by making sure that understanding how and why you are wonderful is as simple as it can be!

Why this job especially?

The first thing you should be talking about is the reason you want this job and no other.

Why did this one catch your eye? Why are you putting in such effort to apply for it? Perhaps it's the specific history of the organisation, the good things you've heard about them or the systems and techniques they use. If needed, now is the time to talk about relocation.

Your CPD and how it makes you a great choice

The second is your continuing professional development (CPD) and qualifications. What is it about them that makes them pertinent to the role and how do they tally up with the job description and person specification?

Another excellent move to make here is to talk about the professional development you hope the job will bring. Not in the sense of 'give me this CPD or I walk'; more in the sense of 'I hope this role will allow me to further my A, B, C and D skills....'.

Your future plans for work development

Thirdly, you should spend a paragraph talking about just what you hope this job will allow you to do. This will flow nicely from your hopes regarding CPD. Mention again why you are applying for this job and tie it into your previous CPD points.

How do you hope this job will allow you to develop as a worker. What makes you passionate and why will it be just right for you and your future? Remember, this must always relate back to what they are aiming to do with the role. If you don't know what they are aiming to do, call them and ask about it.

Just what it is that makes you so lovely

After this, a bit on soft skills is a nice way to finish. Whilst soft skills like teamwork, co-operation and dedication are really the bare minimum you'd expect from a professional, it doesn't hurt to get a line or two in.

This personalises the letter and allows for them to want to meet you as well as 'the social worker' that's applying. Keep it realistic and don't act like you're someone you're not.

Just pull out, say, three of your most attractive qualities and point out why this will make you a lovely match for the job.

Finally, contact details againLast, end the letter by restating how they can contact you, should they have any questions or queries about anything you've sent. And voilà, one delightful cover letter to go with your cracking CV!I am a qualified social worker but I've only just qualified – what can I write about my CPD?

This may seem like a stumper but don't worry – there are alternatives to talking about your CPD. These are, of course, your degree placements and specific modules and projects from university. Find those that are most closely related and take the tangible experiences which have contributed to your development.

If you really don't have any modules or placements that relate to the role you're applying for and you're struggling to find any hard skills you can talk about, it may not be the right job for you.

By all means, apply but you may need to take a less specialised or more junior role to build up that useful, meaningful experience.I've been working in social worker jobs for years – what about me?

For our riper job seekers, you need to focus on your professional development – it's your most valuable asset. In what way have you chosen to develop?

Why are you so passionate about these areas and what specific industry understanding and knowledge do you have because of this? Demonstrating why you are a unique resource that merits attention should be straight-forward with years of experience under your belt!

The CV and cover letter have been sent and I've been invited for interview!

Congratulations - of course you have!

Now: to prepare for the interview. As a social worker, your social skills will be your forte here – after all, they're essentially the most important characteristic you can have as a social worker.

More generally, there's preparation specific to social working and the other stuff that everyone has to do.

General interview preparation

Getting ready for interview has some commonalities right across sectors as there are a few things that everyone needs to do.

> Check your route so there aren't any surprises:

Being late for an interview screams incompetence. There are, occasionally, exceptional and genuine circumstances where you just can't help being late but let's not waste our chances on poor route planning.

Check your route to make sure you are completely clear on how to get there and where it actually is at the address. If you are using public transport, check their service information – are there roadworks or other delays? What's an alternative if the bus just doesn't turn up?

Perhaps an emergency tenner for a taxi would be appropriate. If you're driving, double-check your fuel. It's so easy to forget to check and then be forced to spend 20 minutes getting into the petrol station, filling up, paying and getting out again.

> Get your outfit ready:

Another place that easily sucks up time is getting ready in the morning. Lay out your clothes, check for holes and loose buttons and then iron it all. Then consider your grooming routine – do you need to wash your hair the night before?

Maybe you have a more complicated process you want to undertake like shaving your legs, tooth whitening, giving yourself a facial or applying hot oil to your hair or the like – let's get it done the night before!

Whatever you do do to your body and clothes, it should be simple, elegant and unassuming. Your personality should be able to come through without reliance on informal or unprofessional grooming or 'wacky' clothing choices. And even if it can't – that doesn't matter. It's a job interview!

> Research the organisation so you can make intelligent enquiries:

There are specific things to research for a social worker job that we talk about below but general things include: how the company started, how long it's been running, what they aim to do, any public or governmental initiatives they've been included in; professional bodies associated; what they expect from staff and how they treat them.

> A list of questions for them:

Be careful here as the wrong questions give the wrong impression. Take care not to look money-grubbing or self-centred; questions should increase your understanding of your role and their expectations.

Nice examples would be: who else would be part of my team? How is my performance measured? What would be your ideal employee? What does the interviewer like about the company? Is there much travelling involved? Does the company use any specific software? Have any previous employees in this role failed to perform as you'd have hoped and in what way? What kind of training is associated of the role/expected of me? What are the key accomplishments you'd want to see across the next year? Or, similarly, what would a successful year look like for the organisation?

> Role play some questions:

Role play may or may not bring a groan to your lips but it helps. A dry run at feeling awkward and stupid will really help prevent it on the day – find out which answers to question you don't have done perfectly and revise, revise!

> Practice your eye contact.

Eye contact can be another thing we struggle with – I personally can't stand too much eye contact. However, failing to be able to look someone in the eyes really doesn't make you look successful and wouldn't bode well for professional situations. During your role play, concentrate on your eye contact.

You don’t have to look at them for literally every second of your answer – especially if you're thinking rapidly – but starting and ending your answer with eye contact will look better than none.

Equally, don't make too much eye contact! You shouldn't be staring at them for every single second of the interview. Relax, look around a little now and then (but not during questions).

> Ensure everything you prepare has a positive spin:

This is another important one to get right – you need to be able to talk about negative subjects in a positive way.

And you need to be able to talk about a hated prior employer without letting on that you don't actually have any respect for them. Try tape-recording your role play with a friend to listen to yourself. Are you a Moany Martin? Don't be.

> Avoid fiddling:

Another classic body language problem is fiddling. Playing with your hair, biting your nails, generally putting your hands in and around your mouth, shuffling your feet.....all dodgy to watch. Rest your hands in your lap in one another or discreetly sit on them.

> Find out if there will be any competency tests:

There's nothing quite like having a competency test sprung on you! Call ahead to check this won't be the case. Doing so has the added bonus of making you look proactive and sensible too!

General information gathering

Similarly, there are some questions you need to prepare for, no matter the industry:

Details about your course

Gather a few short sentences about your degree course; the types of modules covered, placements attended and the main projects that were the most interesting.

You should also include anything of substance that supports your application for the role.

Why you're interested in this job

Again, a few pithy and simple sentences that corral why you want this job and no other. Things that relate here may be personal experiences, placements, projects undertaken or work experience.

Summarise yourself and your past few jobs

They will undoubtedly ask you about yourself and you do not want to be umm-ing and ahh-ing here. Start with your last job plus one or two more – a short description of both plus what you liked about them would be good. Then, add a little about your interests and why you love them as well. Keep it short and confident.

Career goals

You should be able to say just why you're aiming your career path in this direction. Where do you hope to end up and with which cohort of service users? Are you looking forward to more training in the area or contact with service users? Do you enjoy the potential for project management, one-on-one work or something else?

Your availability

Social work can be rather anti-social in terms of hours – if you can't work outside the 9-5, now is the time to say!

Make a list of your knowledge, skills, abilities and experience.

As with the data-gathering exercises before, it is equally as – if not more – important that you can trot out your skills, abilities, knowledge and experiences. Hesitating here – however well-meant or innocuous – doesn't sound good. Good workers are clear about such things.

Knowledge refers to your range of understanding and marshalling of facts in the area – what do you actually know?

Hint: If you could confidently teach it to someone, then you really know it.

Skills – In this sense, it relates to your 'hard skills' – what can you actually do?

Abilities – The demonstrative ability to use knowledge and skills – when have you done these things and how well can you do them?

Experience – self-explanatory; previous situations that relate to and support your application.

For all, try using the STAR method to outline them. It's said to be an excellent process for clarity: Situation, Task, Action, Results. Get those categories answered for each point you have and you'll be laughing!

Prepare past experiences that relate to job skills

This ties into the point above. After you've STAR’d your knowledge, skills, abilities and experiences, cross-reference them with the job criteria. How many can you demonstrate concrete prior experience or ability in?

Your weaknesses

This is one of the least-liked questions because it's either hard to answer or too easy to answer and you fear that either answer will damage your chances! If your problem is the former, try answering this question: “How would your greatest enemy describe you?”.

Whether it's the former or latter, find a positive way to spin it – crucially, you must state how you've learnt from previous examples of your behaviour and what you've done to combat it.

Be up-to-date with current events and have your own thoughtful opinion

As a professional, you should have tangible ideas about the industry. If you don't regularly keep up with the general or industry news, get started during your job search. Think of the topics and issues you studied during your course and apply that way of thinking through subjects to consider recent, important events.

Then condense your thoughts into a few spiffy sentences.

Particular social worker interview preparation

The above section covers general job interviews but in applying for a social worker job, you need to have done further research – both on the company and on your thoughts, feelings and assertions surrounding the sector.

Check OFSTED reports or similar for the place

Who inspects the service? How often do they inspect and what do they think about it?

Finding this out could save a lot of grief further down the line – if you want to help improve a service then the findings won't be as important; if you really want to focus on providing excellent care, you may want to see if that's something the company can work with you on.

What are your major successes?

Arguably, this is a general piece of preparation to do but we'll outline the types of info most wanted for social work.

You should have several short scenarios for problem-solving, taking initiative, responsibility, how you cope with crisis and decision-making without all the information.

Marshall a description of the situation, talk about your response and how it all played out.

What are your major disappointments?

As above, but for disappointments. When did you drop the ball? What happened, what was the outcome and most importantly of all, what did you learn and how did you change your practice?

A specific area you may be asked about here is that of bad communication – how do you cope with it or when did you provide it?

What personality traits do your successes and disappointments show?

Hopefully, these stories will showcase the behaviours they asked for in the person specification. For the negative situations, be extremely clear on how you have developed past this situation to demonstrate how it won't happen again!What traits does a good social worker hold?

This kind of question is a way of finding out how much you understand about the post and a bit about what you expect of yourself. Find out what you think the answer is and write a good summary of it.

Your toughest case

This will be problematic if you've just graduated and hopefully, they wouldn't ask it. If they do, talk about something that happened in a placement that demonstrates your tenacity and competency.

If you haven't, however, use the STAR analysis to create a narrative from your previous experiences.

Scenarios – step by step expectations

Sometimes, you'll be asked to take a case study and run the interviewer through the way you'd handle it, step-by-step. Some people find this kind of information handling difficult – if you can, practice with scenarios found online.

What would you do if a client turned up for a meeting high or psychotic?

In your line of work, this is a very real possibility and there are kind and unkind ways of handling it. If you're not sure about your own stance on such issues, have a look online or flick back through things from your course.

What do you do about counter transference?

Social workers are just as capable of emotional transference onto their clients as clients are onto them and as professionals, you must know what you're going to do about it!

You should have some ideas about what you fall foul of with regards to counter transference – whether it's positive or negative. What systems do you have in place to deal with it?

Theoretical orientations

Hopefully, even if you are a fresh-faced graduate, you will have some idea of your theoretical sympathies. Maybe you like the cognitive approach, a solution-focused one or prefer family systems as a methodology.

Decide which and work out why you think this will go well with the role.

Specify why the employer's cohort interests you.

The interviewer will likely be curious about exactly why you want to work in the specific field the role involves. Have a think beforehand and pinpoint why.Who do you find most difficult to work with and how do you tackle this?

No-one expects you to be a perfect social-working robot and they understand that you will sometimes be battling with personal dislikes of service users.

However, they will expect you – as a professional – to know what you will do about combating underlying biases. If you have a prior experience in this, fantastic – use it and talk about how you developed past it.

And you probably do....think back to unpleasant co-workers if you don't have one relating to clients.

Coping with ethical conflicts in a scenario – personal, legal and regulatory issues

You absolutely will encounter ethical conflicts during your work – they tend to pop up throughout life, let alone at work! As someone that is working with others to develop their lives, how you handle these conflicts is exceptionally important. Make sure you have some basic understandings of the types of legal and regulatory issues they will touch on, as well as personal limitations or angles.

Features of common systems and techniques used.

It is possible the interviewer will want to check your understanding of systems and techniques they like to use in their service provision. This may relate to things like assessments, the cycle of disadvantage, empowerment or advocacy – make sure you can summarise the pertinent features of each.

What would you change about the system?

A great way of understanding someone's attitude towards an area is to ask them about what they think needs changing – what don't you like about the social worker system? Why don't you like it? Do you know how you'd like to see it change?

How you manage your work/life balance.

Social worker jobs are notorious for their stressful natures – what you do is very hard work and it's important to acknowledge that and put some systems into place to deal with it.

Drinking is a classic one but not something the interviewers will find appropriate.

So how else do you make sure you won't burn out in a few years?

How do you recapture the essence of you after a 10-hour day or 60-hour week?

Interviewing well

Once you've prepared everything you need, let's make sure you deliver it as well as you can so that your positive traits shine through!

The first three are simple things – make sure you're 5 or 10 minutes early so you can visit the toilet if you want and settle in; turn your phone off and make sure you're still looking nice and neat.

In interview, there are two things that will make you really appealing.

Firstly, show passion. You do this job because you love it and you find it fulfilling. Tell them about it (but don't gabble)!

Secondly, make them like you by finding things to be interested in about them and by liking them too. Check out their LinkedIn profile or find out if they've guestblogged anywhere – what are they interested in? Do you have anything in common?

Lastly, the age-old – positive body language. Lean forward slightly, make good eye contact, don't fiddle and don't gesticulate too wildly. And smile!

Types of CPD in social worker jobs

Once you've secured the job, what can you expect in terms of future continued professional development? It's a requirement for registration with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) (along with a full year of assessed work if you’re in Ireland) so you'll always need to consider this.

New expectations from the HCPC is that there are no set amount of hours that you have to do and CPD is now defined as anything you learn or develop from.

What is certain is that the HCPC will audit 2.5% of social workers in 2014 to see how this system is going. You'll need to have a continuous and current record of learning activities that clearly benefit the service user and your practice. They also may request a piece of writing with supporting evidence to show how you've met the standards.

If you choose to do traditional CPD, there are all kinds of certificates, HNCs, diplomas and MAs out there. For instance, Sussex Uni offer courses for new and experienced workers. Things like 'Communication with Children', 'Managing and Leading Change' and 'Research Mindedness' are all possibilities. A more generic option from Bournemouth university would be their Graduate Certificate in Professional Practice (GCPP).

However you decide to develop, make sure you keep track of it both for you and for the audit!Usual job paths for social worker jobsThe main social worker jobs out there tend to be found through local authorities; either in their children's services or adult's services.

Others are with the NHS within mental health, some in prisons, some in the community and others in places like schools, the Police, substance abuse, asylum services or youth justice.

It's possible to work for private companies as well, in areas like adoption, fostering or even staffing agencies.Wherever you choose to apply, you'll start out as a Newly Qualified Social Worker, covering the basics. From here, you'll either continue as a standard social worker or go up to senior social worker.

After doing your time at senior level, options really open up and it all depends on what you are particularly interested in.

One possibility is management – making sure that either happens as it ought to and supporting your colleagues to do their best work and acting as mentor to the new 'uns.

Another option is policy work and academia – once you've a good understanding of how social worker life runs, you can feed back into the system and either train new social workers as lecturer, senior lecturer and course leader or contribute your experiences and ability to reflect via policy development.

If you've found the legal side of things particularly interesting, you might end up as a court adviser to represent and advocate for the vulnerable parties involved in legal cases.

As you spend more and more time in the field, you can move up to even higher positions. Roles like strategy manager, commissioning manager or head of services are all options after you gathered many years working in the area.

Best of luck!

So, you've got a feel for the field and, hopefully, a sense of what's to come along with a gleaming CV and cover letter to go with it all. The very best of luck to you from – now get cracking!

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

I'm fascinated by the career choice we all make. It speaks so much about who we are. People choose to become a nurse or work in medicine or care for one of two reasons. One: simply, they always wanted to be a nurse or social worker or doctor. Two: even more simply, they want a job which helps people. In our blogs we explore the career choice that puts others first.

See all of our Social work jobs

1040 jobs currently available

Search Jobs

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

About the author

  • Matt Farrah
    Co-Founder, Niche Jobs

I'm fascinated by the career choice we all make. It speaks so much about who we are. People choose to become a nurse or work in medicine or care for one of two reasons. One: simply, they always wanted to be a nurse or social worker or doctor. Two: even more simply, they want a job which helps people. In our blogs we explore the career choice that puts others first.