Now that I am qualified and graduation is out of the way, it was time to apply for my first graduate job. Finding my first social work job was quite frustrating and an emotional roller-coaster. I had this belief in my head while at university that I would easily get a job upon graduation. As students, we were constantly told by our tutors that there were many social work jobs and so I believed it would be as easy to find work. I was so wrong! Social work jobs are just as competitive as most jobs and it took me a long time to get an offer.
With the competitive side of social work in mind, I started my job applications towards the end of my second placement to have a head start on most people. I was advised to apply early to have a better chance. I was not entirely sure what I wanted to do; either work with adults or work with children. So, I applied to as many jobs as possible. Out of all the jobs I applied to, only a few invited me for assessment centres and face-to-face interviews. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see that rejection email. I had to remind myself each time that rejection is part of the process. In all fairness, some of the jobs were so far out that I declined the interview request.
During my job search, I approached many social work agencies who all promised to help me find a job. I was very eager to work and I registered with pretty much most of them. I honestly never heard from some of them again after the registration.
As a newly qualified social worker, it is effectively difficult for agencies to find work that would be suitable due to the lack of experience. However, no agency told me this during the registration. I would call up every day to all the various agencies I registered with enquiring about jobs and they would tell me that the employer requires more experience. I obviously knew this was too good to be true but I was so flabbergasted at the fact that agencies advertise newly qualified social work jobs but fail to mention that actually you need certain experience to be eligible. The whole process felt like bait to me.
I once met with one agency consultant who took my details and promised to be in touch with more information regarding a job working with adults. The lady was very enthusiastic and made promises of interview dates and the structure of the local authority. I was very hopeful. I knew at the back of my head, that I had it in the back. I did not hear from the lady for weeks and when I called up the agency, it turns out the job was already filled and there was no contact from the lady. I was very disappointed and quite frankly annoyed.
Since my final placement was with adults, I made a conscious decision to mainly apply for adult social work jobs because I felt more confident in my professional ability. However, most of my applications were rejected and I was declined after a face to face interview. I needed to work, so I widened my net and applied for children and families’ social work. I was very weary applying for these jobs because as you might have guessed it, I did not have much experience working with children. My placement practice was limited and unless I was employed by the local authority to complete my Assisted and Supported Year in Employment (ASYE), I was not confident to take on the job especially when working with vulnerable children.It took me 3 months after I finished university to land my first job. I was very pleased to have a job before my graduation. Did university prepare me enough for the job? Maybe, but learning is a continuous cycle and it does not stop in the classroom. I am now five months into my job and currently completing my ASYE. I have found that I have learnt so much in my job than I ever did while on placement. Beginning my job, I was enveloped by so many fears but I have had so much support in my work place that I have developed confidence in my professional practice.