What will set you apart from the rest in the competitive labour market for social workers? What will be the key to your success?
Our experience working with social workers has been that the most important currency for social workers in this labour market is their positive reputation as a competent, caring, engaged individual. The more connected you are in the community, the more you can raise your profile and gain the respect of your peers, the more likely you will be to find success in your job search.
The following are a few of the key actions you can take to increase your engagement, build your profile, earn respect in the community, and present yourself to your peers as an in-demand professional.
Gather Information – Where do you fit? What organization is in need of your skills and expertise? Conducting in-depth research on local organizations, opportunities and trends within the sector will help you to find the place that you fit. Your success in the field will depend much on your ability to match your skills and expertise to the needs of the local labour market to find your niche.
Network, Network, Network – Who are the major players in the sector? How can you conduct your in-depth research? Networking will be an essential part of your journey. Conduct information interviews throughout the community with people in the field. Ask them to help you make more connections. Attend events, get involved in local advocacy groups, and follow-up with the connections you make. If your best currency is your reputation, your network will be the channel through which news of your reputation will spread. Today’s professional will be successful only if they develop a strong, diverse network of peers within the community.
Find a Mentor – There is no better way to find your place within the field than through the advice and guidance of a mentor. They can help you to navigate the sector, make connections, and move you along your occupational path.
Volunteer – Are you a skilled social worker? Do you develop rapport well with clients and create a professional and respectful relationship? Do you cope well under pressure and make quick and reasoned decisions?
One cannot take a test and receive a score to show competence as a social worker. Instead, the test is the day-in, day-out decision making of a professional. How else can you display your skills as a social worker than through doing the work? In a competitive labour market, this means that volunteering will be essential not only to build your skills but to build your reputation and show others what you can do. Volunteering will be your chance to display your abilities to your peers, gain experience and a positive reference, make connections, and maybe even work your way into a job within the organization you’re volunteering in. This is not a step that can be ignored by someone wanting to work in a helping occupation.