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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 jobs@nichejobsltd.co.uk 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

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 jobs@nichejobsltd.co.uk.

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.

Emails

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 [Data queries Email] 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 jobs@nichejobsltd.co.uk

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 jobs@nichejobsltd.co.uk

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 [Data queries Email\ 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.

Complaints

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:

Website: www.ico.org.uk

Telephone: 03031231113

Address:

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 jobs@nichejobsltd.co.uk

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

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

In this guide, we discuss exactly what to consider, and how to succeed when looking at a career as a Support Worker.

Updated by Miryam Clough 21st December 2017

So you're thinking about getting a Support Worker Job?

With an ageing population, increasing rates of dementia, and over 11 million people in the UK living with a limiting long-term illness, impairment, or disability, the demand for support workers is high.

This means that support work is readily available, and new staff are often taken on without prior training or experience.

If you are new to support work, but the idea of it appeals to you, there are a number of things you should consider before looking for work.

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What Qualifications Do I Need?

Your employability relies much more on your personality than your ability at school. We've even found job listings that don't mention qualifications at all; they just want the right kind of person.

However, many job listings will mention NVQs in Care.

If you're looking at an entry-level job, they may talk about an NVQ2 in care.

If you're looking for anything more senior, they'll mention an NVQ3.

Generally, they don't mind whether you have one or not, but you must be willing to work towards one.

Getting an NVQ on the job is simple, and you usually get around a year to complete them. You don't need to be academic for these as all they require is evidence of your skills.

If you're in a position where you can attend college, you can do your NVQs there. This will give you plenty of time to really understand what's needed of you.

The downside is that you get less practical experience, but it does give you more time to become really good at what you want to do.

---------------

Skills And Training

A lot of people go into care work without prior experience, and, given the shortage of care staff, don’t be surprised if you are thrown in at the deep end. You should also expect to receive adequate training and will be required to complete the Care Certificate.

This covers a set of standards that social care and health workers are expected to adhere to, and that should be covered as part of the induction training of new care workers in CQC regulated organisations.

The Care Certificate was developed jointly by Skills for Care,

 Health Education England,  and  Skills for Health, and introduced in 2015. It applies across health and social care and links to  National Occupational Standards.

It will give you a basis on which to develop your knowledge and skills. It covers the following areas:

  • Understanding your role
  • Your personal development
  • Duty of care
  • Equality and diversity
  • Work in a person-centred way
  •               

  • Communication
  • Privacy and dignity
  • Fluids and nutrition
  • Awareness of mental health, dementia and learning disabilities
  • Safeguarding adults
  • Safeguarding children
  • Basic life support
  • Health and safety
  • Handling information
  • Infection prevention and control
  • Because a lot of the practical tasks are personal or domestic, you’ll soon pick them up.

    Don’t be afraid to ask if you’re not sure. You are responsible for other people’s safety and well-being, so it is best to get help if you need it.

    -----

    The most important skill is your ability to communicate with the individuals you are caring for, and they will often be able to tell you how they like things done. Don’t make assumptions. Everyone is different, and getting small touches right (where you put someone’s glasses or walking stick at night, how many pillows they like or which radio station they prefer) can make a huge difference to that person’s sense of safety, comfort and wellbeing.

    If they can’t tell you clearly how they like things, ask their family. The more familiar their routine and environment, the less confusion and distress they’ll experience.

    Remember it is your relationship with that person that is the most important thing. If they trust you, they will feel secure and cared for, so prioritise getting to know them.

    Your organisation should also provide ongoing training and supervision. Make sure you access this and reflect regularly on your work performance and your own wellbeing to identify areas where you need support.

    ---------------

    Do You Care About People?

    Do you really care about people? Or do you just need a job?

    The need to find employment is legitimate and essential, and I in no way want to downplay or undervalue this. If your primary motive in considering a job in care is financial, I would urge you to first think seriously about your personal and social qualities, your mental, emotional and physical wellbeing, and your support systems and resources.

    Caring is not for everyone. If you aren't really drawn to it, for your own sake and that of potential clients, don’t do it. Look for something more suited to your personality and skills.

    As a support worker, I see my role fundamentally as someone who cares. Yes, my job is to support people to live their lives as independently as possible in their given circumstances, and this often involves practical tasks and skills. However, I am able to do this primarily because I care.

    Caring is not, in itself, a task (although it involves performing many tasks), it is an innate quality. Sure, it is a quality that many of us possess; as relational creatures, human beings generally care about others and seek to interact and communicate.

    But do we all have the capacity to extend that care to individuals outside our familial or social groups who are vulnerable and need extra emotional and physical support?

    Additionally, it is likely that we will each demonstrate care in a variety of ways and that some of us will enjoy a lot of interaction with people, whilst others might cope with only a little.

    Some of us will be happy in a role where we are talking, listening, or problem solving. Some will be happy doing practical tasks for people; cooking, cleaning, DIY, gardening. Some might enjoy arranging or facilitating activities or entertainment. Others are happy to be doing hands-on personal care tasks.

    If you are keen to work in a social care role, then think carefully about what kinds of activities you enjoy and are comfortable doing.

    Ask yourself: if this was my mum, dad, brother, sister, how would I want them to be cared for? What personal qualities would I look for and expect to find if I were employing someone to look after my granny or grandad?

    Would I be happy with them being supported by someone who needed a job, but would far rather be working as a plumber or librarian? Would I feel confident with someone who didn’t really enjoy working with people, who found the practical tasks of care work distasteful or who was not patient, thoughtful, or kind?

    The quality of care we want for those we love, and indeed for ourselves, is the quality of care we need to be able to offer those we are working with.

    ---------------

    Think Carefully About Your Preferred Client Group

    There will be some people and groups we each relate to more comfortably. I remember, in my twenties, visiting a home for disabled children in Calcutta run by Mother Teresa. One look at those kids and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

    I was surprised, and even shocked by my reaction. Instead, I spent two days volunteering at her home for the dying, where I was more in my comfort zone.

    At several points in my life I’ve worked in elderly care. Each time, I’ve done so because I felt I had something to offer older people. I’ve always enjoyed their company, even as a child.

    Over time, I identified a preference for working specifically with people with dementia. You might be drawn to supporting children, young people or adults with learning disabilities, individuals with addiction or mental health issues, or people needing palliative care.

    It is important to think very carefully about your potential client group. The more comfortable and ‘at home’ you feel with your client group, the more authentically you will relate to them. Care cannot be forced.

    The practical aspects of care can be learned, but your ability to engage authentically with the individuals you seek to support is the key to working successfully in this field. Fundamentally, your most important asset is your ability to form genuine caring relationships with the people you will be supporting. If you don’t feel able to do this, then support work is not for you.

    That’s fine, we are all different, but for your own wellbeing, and that of potential clients, do not become a support worker unless your primary motivation is to care and you already experience a genuine empathy for your client group.

    ---------------

    Are You A Compassionate Person?

    Our ability to put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and to be able to imagine the world from their perspective, is crucial to our ability to care. If you can’t imagine what someone else might be going through, or are not interested in knowing or finding out, then support work is not for you.

    The essence of good care will be in your relationship with your clients, and in your ability to be truly person-centred in your approach; your willingness to strive to meet the needs of the individuals you are supporting.

    In under-resourced and understaffed institutions (as many are), you will need to maintain your person-centred focus in an environment that often feels more like a conveyor belt. This can be frustrating and demoralising, and can make you unpopular with colleagues who are more task-orientated.

    Equally, you will need to be able to reassure clients who may be struggling with illness, incapacity or diminishing capacity, loss and bereavement and other profound changes in their lives. People newly resident in care homes, having lived independently throughout their adult lives, can be deeply disorientated and distressed.

    Do you feel able to get alongside someone in this kind of situation and offer them support?

    ---------------

    Are you patient?

    As well as it being essential that you can empathise with someone who may be very different to you, there will be times when your patience is tried. There will be times when you are overstretched and overtired, when you are doing your best to assist someone and they are responding to your efforts with impatience, rudeness or even physical aggression.

    How do you think you will react?

    When your client with dementia calls you repeatedly to ask you the same question several times over, you will need to resist your impulse to be impatient and frustrated, and instead imagine what it is like to not know whether it is six at night or six in the morning, whether the meal in front of you is breakfast or dinner, why you are in a strange room with people you don’t know and not at home, or why your parents still haven’t come to collect you.

    ---------------

    Are You A Respectful Person?

    Again, the answer to this question is crucial. If you are not, then care work really is not for you.

    Do you have good levels of self-respect?

    It is hard for us to respect others if we struggle to respect ourselves.

    Sadly, care work is a poorly paid and low status occupation, where respect for workers is often lacking. You will need to be robust to survive in this environment.

    If you find it hard to respect others or you struggle with self-respect, then, again, I would urge you to look for a different kind of job.

    A New Zealand colleague who has a post-graduate degree in nursing is currently working as a carer in the UK. She commented to me recently that she has encountered a lack of respect in her current role that she does not experience when working as a nurse back home. This is clearly both irritating and demoralising.

    I had a similar experience when working in a nursing home. In that environment I frequently struggled with the lack of respect towards carers and other staff from some nurses and managers, and occasionally from residents or relatives.

    Where there is a hierarchical model of top-down leadership, care assistants, support workers and domestic staff in institutional settings are very much at the bottom of the heap. Without conscious, respectful, non-hierarchical leadership, disrespect and bullying have a trickle-down effect in organisations, including those providing health and social care.

    At worst, this lack of respect transfers from frontline staff to the individuals they are supposed to be caring for.

    If this is likely to be the nature of your organisation, think carefully about whether you have the personal and social resources to maintain your own self-respect and to hold on to your empathy for those you will be caring for. It is not always easy.

    Equally, while many people have a huge respect for individuals who care for others, and indeed may be in awe of the work they do, you will encounter those who regard care or support work as unskilled (it is not!) and low-status and who treat care workers accordingly. This attitude is reflected nationally in the underfunding of social care.

    Again, is your sense of self-worth robust enough to cope with this?

    ---------------

    Are You Good At Your Own Self-care?

    Support work can be stressful as well as physically and emotionally demanding. In order to support others in their care and wellbeing, we need to have the resources to maintain our own health and wellbeing.

    Do you have someone you can talk to when things become stressful or difficult?

    Do you have a good work-life balance with a range of leisure and social activities?

    Do you eat well and exercise regularly?

    Are you able to identify when you are feeling stressed or over-tired and to take steps to address this?

    Are you able to reflect on your work, and to seek help where things are not going well?

    Carers are encouraged to put others first, and we can feel that we are being selfish if we attend to our own wellbeing.

    On the other hand, it can be hard caring for others when we feel that our own needs are not being met, and when we are not adequately remunerated for our hard work or supported by managers. This can lead to resentment and burnout, which is bad for us and for our clients (sometimes with devastating consequences), and ultimately, reflects badly on the organisations we work for.

    Think carefully about your ability to care for yourself and your commitment to maintaining a healthy lifestyle, whilst doing work that can be challenging and demanding.

    ---------------

    Are You Comfortable Assisting Others With Their Personal Hygiene?

    As a support worker, you will probably spend a lot of time wiping bums. This can take a bit of getting used to, as can helping another person to wash and dress, clean their teeth or dentures, blow their nose, empty a catheter bag etc.

    Most carers get used to this fairly quickly, although we may have our weak spots.

    Some find mouthcare difficult. Some find it hard to deal with vomiting. Sometimes, we may feel disgusted by the smell of a particular person’s poo or body odour.

    Often, colleagues will be supportive and personal care tasks can be shared, but on the whole, you need to feel comfortable dealing with the things that naturally cause disgust in human beings.

    Body products remind us of our physical frailty and mortality, so it is normal to feel uncomfortable around them.

    Are you confident that this won’t worry you?

    ---------------

    Choosing Your Organisation/Employer

    Before applying for jobs, have a think about what kind of organisation you’d like to work for.

    Do they have a good reputation? Ask around in your community. Check their CQC rating and latest report online.

    Do they appear to have a caring ethos? Does this extend to staff as well as to clients? How thorough is the recruitment process? What training and supervision do they provide? Are there any staff benefits?

    If you're applying to work in a nursing home or residential care environment, ask to have a look around (you will most likely be shown around at interview). How does it feel? Are staff friendly and welcoming? Do residents seem well cared for and happy? What kind of activities are provided for residents?

    What’s the environment like? Is it clean and tidy? Is it homely or clinical? What does it smell like? Would you feel confident to see someone you loved living there?

    If you will be working in the community, do you get paid for your travel time to get from one job to the next? Is the time allocated for visits adequate?

    If it is a live-in position, does the agency check that the client’s home is safe for you as well as the client, and that the hours you will be paid for tally with the hours you will actually work?

    Is there adequate provision for you to have time off? Does the agency care about your wellbeing and that of your client?

    ---------------

    CV

    Once you've decided the job is for you, it's time to start crafting your CV.

    When it comes to writing a CV, resume or application form, it's good to start with the basics.

    Unfortunately, mistakes happens to the best of us, especially when we're doing something stressful like looking for a job.

    Are your contact details correct, professional and present? Make sure the right phone number is on there.

    Email addresses can catch you out too. You must make sure you have a professional-sounding address for job applications.

    Go to one of the standard email providers online and make a new account that only uses your first and last names (and spell them correctly too, no 'fun' spellings). If you have a common name and can't use it by itself, you could add your middle name or birth year to make it unique.

    Similarly, make sure your voice-mail is set up and the message is professional.

    It may seem amusing to have a "different" voice-mail greeting, but employers won't find it funny.

    ---------------

    How Does It Look?

    There are a few simple steps you can take to make sure that any CV or application form looks good when you send it in.

  • For application forms, black pen often looks best.

  • Read the top to see if they want you to use capitals, and make sure you write in a way you are most confident in. A really good tip is to pick up two application forms. This way, you can practice filling one in, make your mistakes and change the way things are written.
  • If you're writing a CV for the job, or for uploading to our website, keep the document in plain black and white, don't add pictures, use an easy-to-read font like Arial or Times New Roman, and use 'bold' or 'underline' for each different section title.

    Make sure your name, address, telephone number and email address are at the top, and don't make it any longer than two pages

  • Finally, have a think about your spelling, grammar and punctuation. If you haven't always found this easy, a good way of checking is to ask a friend to read it, or type it out in a word processing document like Microsoft Word.

    This can be a really good way of catching mistakes and the word processor can generally suggest the right spelling or grammar too. Just be careful you don't change all the spellings to American spellings! Remember, it's 'colour', not 'color'

  • ---------------

    What Do I Need To Include In A CV?

    There are lots of different ways of writing CVs but for a simple CV, make sure you have your job history, professional skills, schools and education and, finally, references.

    Also, remember to look for the particular words they use. There will definitely be a 'person specification' that tells you the kind of worker they are looking for.

    Using the same words as those included in the specification (like 'self-motivated', 'flexible', 'sensitive' and 'caring') will help them understand you're a great choice for the job.

    -----

    Previous Job Experience

    For job experience, we work backwards. Start with your current or most recent job and then the ones before.

    Make sure you include employer name, start and end dates, and a short explanation of what you had to do. Don't go into lots of detail here; keep it short and sweet so it's easy for them to read.

    -----

    References

    These should be your last employer, college lecturer, school teacher, or a reliable member of the community that knows you, like your doctor or vicar.

    Make sure you ask these people first about using them as a reference. After all, it's only polite and saves any embarrassment. It wouldn't look good if, for whatever reason, they didn't respond to a request for a reference!

    ---------------

    Writing A Cover Letter

    Once your CV or application form is complete, you need to write a cover letter to go with it.

    The cover letter isn't just a summary of what you have already written. Instead, it's another chance to persuade them that you are worth interviewing.

    -----

    For a great cover letter, follow this paragraph structure:

    Why Do You Want The Job?

    A good way to start a cover letter (after the “I am writing to apply for......” part) is to explain why you want this job.

    It may be because of the type of service user they work with, or because it involves increased responsibility.

    Write a couple of sentences explaining this and tell them how enthusiastic you are.

    -----

    Experience

    Here, you need to write about how your experiences make you a good choice. It may be that you're a carer for a family friend so you have lots of practical experience, or can use sign language. You may have taken an NVQ at college so you have lots of understanding about how to do the job, or that you volunteered at a day centre and knew you wanted to follow a career in support work.

    Whatever it is that shows you know about this area, tell them about it.

    -----

    Ambitions

    There'll be a reason you want this job, and there'll be something that you can gain from it. Explain how you think you'll benefit as a worker in their organisation and how this excites you.

    Maybe you look forward to doing your NVQ on the job, or undertaking the training that will make you better in a specific area.

    Be careful not to sound demanding or selfish here. It's not that you are meant to talk about all the things you want, but to instead give them an idea of your professional ambitions.

    Also, be careful not to say anything that will make you sound unreliable.

    -----

    About You

    Finally, the last couple of sentences are a chance to talk about why you're a nice person to work with.

    Don't go over the top here, but do allow yourself to shine through. Think of some words that describe your character (like 'friendly', 'persuasive', or 'hard-working') so they will become interested in you personally.

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    Invite Them To Contact You

    End the letter by inviting them to contact you if they have any questions, and remind them of your phone number and email address again. This makes it easy for them to get in touch with you if they need to.

    ----------------

    I've Got An Interview!

    Congratulations!

    The next steps involve getting ready and making sure you're 100% clear on everything you want to say in the interview.

    -----

    Let's start with the basic preparation that everyone needs to do for interviews:

    Punctuality

    It's really important to double-check your route before you go to the interview. Even if you've made the trip a million times, don't risk it.

    Double-check the transport times or, if you're driving, make sure the day before that your fuel tank is full. You never know when a rogue set of traffic works or a bus cancellation will occur, and it would be awful to find out on the day.

    Check your council's website or Twitter feed, check timetables once again, and make sure your car is running happily the day before!

    -----

    Appearance

    Check the day before that your outfit is clean, ironed, and ready to wear. Again, like transport, it's easy to ignore this one because you think, “Well, I do this everyday”. All it takes is one little coffee stain to suddenly make your morning really complicated.

    If you want to get your hair cut, or nails done do it a few days beforehand. Again, just one little mistake and suddenly, you're turning up to interview with a terrible dye job that you can't fix in time.

    Interviews are nerve-wracking enough without that on top!

    -----

    Research

    You don't have to spend hours on this but do have a look at their website or a leaflet about them before interview. This way, you don't get surprised with any tricky questions like “What did you think of our last fund-raising event?".

    If you want to dig deeper, check their last CQC inspection report. Was it positive? Did the company release a statement about what they were going to do about the less-positive parts of the report? This will be a great way of saving yourself the hassle of starting somewhere, only to find it's a terrible place to work.

    -----

    Questions For Them

    Ask questions that show how much the role interests you. Asking about opportunities for promotion and training will always sounds good, as will questions on team approach towards service users.

    ------

    Role-play

    I know it's embarrassing, but it's a really good way to catch yourself out on all the silly little things that can add up to make you an unappealing worker.

    There are four things you should look out for during your dry run; fidgeting, being negative, sounding uncertain, and not giving eye contact.

    Find out if you do anything in these categories and then find a way to stop yourself!

    ------

    Practice Your Answers

    This relates to role-playing too. Whether you prepare answers before you role-play or after, when you've found all the mistakes you made, making sure you know your answers in advance of an interview will really help.

    You need to be able to tell people about yourself with a few simple sentences, to be able to sum up your different jobs and courses in the same way, and have a good idea about what you want to do in the future.

    They'll also want to know about previous difficult situations and how you coped with them.

    A good way to organise your thoughts is the STAR method; Situation, Task, Action, Results. So, the situation may be,, 'a customer was really rude to me about something that wasn't my fault'. The task would then be, 'I needed to calm them down and make them happy'. The action, 'I wasn't able to to help them so I got my manager' and the results, 'The manager gave them a refund and they left happy'.

    By writing it out in this way, it will really help you ensure you cover all the bases and sound professional when answering.

    We can promise that you will be asked at least one of these kinds of questions so do yourself a favour and prepare them so you don't sound confused or hesitant on the day.

    Just don't memorise each piece of information or you won't be able to cope when they ask questions you haven't prepared for. Use the information flexibly.

    -----

    Job-related Questions

    Interviewers will also ask about how you deal with different situations.

    The whole reason service users need support is because there will be some way in which they do things that are socially frowned upon, and you will be there to support them to manage these incidents.

    So, you might be asked to explain what you'd do if someone was shouting in the street, hadn't washed for a while, wouldn't take their medication, or refused to eat.

    You will also be asked what certain terms mean to you. For example, 'what does equality and diversity mean to you?'.

    You may also be asked about words like 'appropriate', 'confidential', 'person centred support', 'safeguarding', 'choice' or 'communication'. If you aren't sure what any of these mean, find the definition and think about what it could mean in relation to supporting people to live independently.

    -----

    Important Reports

    If you really want to stand out, have a look at recent government legislation.

    Within the last few years, there's been a couple of really important reports; “Putting People First” and “Safeguarding Adults”.

    Don't worry about reading the whole report if you don't want to. Generally they will have an 'executive summary' which tells you the reason for doing it and a bit about the findings.

    ---------------

    Make Sure It's A Success

    Once you've done your research, gotten ready and the big day has come, it's time to shine at interview!

  • First, turn your phone off. The interview won't take long and even a muted vibrating noise sounds bad. If you can't ignore your phone for 20 minutes, how will you concentrate on your service user?

    If you have a genuine problem at home that means you really need to keep your phone on, tell them about it and apologise.

  • Secondly, make sure you're ten minutes early. It will show that you're organised, prepared and reliable. You may need that time to go to the toilet to re-comb your unruly hair and relax.
  • Thirdly, when you get called in, make sure you smile, shake hands, introduce yourself, and don't sit down until you are offered a chair. This sounds really simple but these basic social skills and good manners are hard to find, especially in younger workers.

    Do these 4 simple things and you'll stand out from the crowd!

  • Finally, show passion. Don't be afraid to wear your heart on your sleeve a little bit so they can see how much you love this kind of work. Don't gush or go over the top, but let them see the human side of you.
  • ---------------

    Job Opportunities

    Support work can end up taking you in all sorts of directions. Partly because people go into it for lots of different reasons, and partly because it's such a varied job.

    Generally, the next step for support workers is to become a team leader or senior support worker.

    If you've got a good head on your shoulders and have shown yourself to be professional, reliable and good at getting on with your colleagues, this promotion will be your next option.

    After this, the next step will be assistant manager positions and then manager-level positions.

    Many people find that support work leads to training in another area. Contact with social workers, therapists, nurses, and other types of support worker can all end up inspiring you to train in another area!

    Once you've several years of experience under your belt, you might want to consider opening your own service. Whether this is a supported-living service, day care centre, adult education, trip provision, or something else, your time as a support worker will really help you understand what service users need to flourish in these areas.

    ---------------

    What’s Good About Being A Support Worker?

    The picture of support work I’ve painted may be a bit grim! We’ll never raise the status of support work if it continues to attract people who are not suited to it, simply because it is easy work to get.

    And for those many carers who are committed to their work and sincere in their desire to help others, it is important that we do raise its status so that they are acknowledged for the skills they possess and the work they do.

    A depleted, demoralised workforce is in no-one’s best interest, least of all the client’s.

    It is high time that this is recognised by those who hold the purse strings.

    My experience is that care work can be very rewarding. In fact, I love my work as a dementia carer, and there’s a lot I miss about the residential dementia unit I was working on until recently, when I moved into home care work.

    I had some great colleagues, I loved the people I was supporting, and enjoyed getting to know their families.

    I enjoyed the social and pastoral aspects of the work and many of the practical tasks.

    Working with people with dementia really can be fun, and a lot of the difficult aspects of care were dealt with through humour. Making a difference to someone’s day, being able to reassure a client or relative, or just being there with them when things are tough is very rewarding.

    Succeeding in communicating with, or assisting someone with dementia who is distressed or aggressive or resistant to care, can give you a real sense of achievement.

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