Making Application

So welcome to lesson four, our topic here is making application. So what I’m assuming is that if you haven’t already decided to discontinue this course, because you’ve been convinced that social work isn’t for you, you’re still hanging on in there and want to look at social work as a career. And how do you make it happen? What happens next? Now, of course, the key issue here is making application to a course that will give you the qualification you need to be social worker. And this is one of the issues that prompted me to produce this course in the first place, because so many people have asked me either in person or through emails, and no social media communication, and so on. So many people have raised that issue about what’s involved in making application, how do I strengthen my application as much as possible? So let’s have a look at some key issues of birth, making application to get yourself on a course, where you have the chance then to get the qualification you need to become a social worker. The first question is, which course are you going to apply to? First of all, you have to make sure that the course you’re applying to will give you the qualification that you need that it is properly registered and accredited. There can be all sorts of the green quarters, for example, around social policy, social welfare, social science, social studies, and so on, that can be fascinating courses, they can be really interesting and worthwhile. But they won’t necessarily make you a qualified social worker. So first thing is make sure that any court you are considering applying for has the full registration and accreditation to make you into a qualified and registered social worker if you complete the course successfully. But that isn’t the only issue in terms of which course, once you’ve established that the courses or the court or court, if you’re interested in are properly registered and accredited, then the obvious thing to you maybe that you want to go for the one that’s nearest to home, so that your travel time will be less, your commute will be less, and that may well be the right thing for you to do. But you need to think about that first, because it’s not necessarily the best way to go forward. For some people in some areas, they only have one choice that can occur is a course within reasonable traveling distance. And there’s no other course competing with that one. So it’s either that one or on nothing, perhaps book, what you have to consider it even in those cases, there may be the opportunity of doing an online course that could give a similar qualification. But if you are in a situation where within a reasonable traveling distance, you’ve got more than one course, you need to find out about those courses, you need to find out that they have a particular emphasis or a particular approach. What’s their reputation like have they got a reputation for being a good helpful supportive courts or not. So if you have the opportunity to find out, then that might well be worth doing. So don’t automatically assume that the courts and the university down the road is the best one for you may be one that’s a bit further away, that will offer you a better deal that will be better for you in terms of your learning and your career development over time. So that’s the first thing to be clear about is which course or courses are you planning on applying to make sure that you’ve thought that through rather than just making assumptions. And the next thing to consider is the idea of selling yourself, putting yourself across as positively as possible. As a general rule, Social Work courses are quite popular and they get a lot of applicants. So the chances are, that there will be more applicants and there are places available. Because of Social Work courses including placements, which are quite limited in number, then the Social Work courses can generally only take a certain number of students to match the number of placements available. So that can put you in a situation where it is competitive, where you have to demonstrate through the course. Not only that you are capable of becoming a good social worker in due course. But also to show that you are in some ways that people are better than other applicants that you’re competing with. After many people, this comes very hard to them, it’s something thing thing they really struggle with. I’ve been involved, for example, over the years in interviewing social workers applying for jobs, and for people as applicants for places on Social Work courses, a common pattern I’ve seen is that people are very modest people are very unassuming. And a struggle to get the message across of I am good, I have a lot to offer. And to put themselves across positively, so then more or less that you can get in the way. But at the end of the day, whether it’s applying for a job or applying for pay for place on a university course, the issue is, can you sell yourself, and by that what I mean is, can you convince the people who are going to be reading your application that you have a lot to offer. So don’t hold back, don’t hide your light under a bushel, as they say, don’t come across as shy and modest. If you’ve got a lot to offer, tell them not in an arrogant showing off way. But in a straightforward way. Just say, this is what I can offer. Because of my experience today. This is why I can offer because of my understanding, my commitment, my personality, whatever issue feel positive that you have to offer, make them clear, make them explicit, and don’t hold back on them. Don’t leave it to the people reading your application, to gas, or to hope that you you have more to offer than other applicants. So you have to be able to get past any sort of modesty, any sense of not wanting to put yourself forward, you’ve got to get past that in order to sell yourself. Otherwise, there’s a danger that you won’t get shortlisted, your application won’t go any further. For example, I have come across applications from people one year, where they have very little to say for themselves. It’s just as if they were assuming that they would automatically get an interview. If they gave us the basic information. We then have the right to them and say I’m sorry, you haven’t been shortlisted. They’ve asked why wasn’t Nigel shortlisted, we’ve pulled them. And the following year they’ve applied and I’m much better job, they have thought forward much more strongly. For example, you have somebody who’s had, say, eight years experience as a volunteer. And they simply say, I ever use experienced as a volunteer in such and such a place. And then expect that to somehow by magic, get an interview on a course or for the quarter. But compare that with somebody who says, I have a years experience as a volunteer in such and such a place. And from my experience, I learned a bt x lines and whatever it may be. And I feel that pets experience will stand me in good stead to be a social worker, because now you see how that somebody who is sending him or herself, they’re actually paid to agree giving a message. Can you afford not to drop is me. Somebody just simply says a great user experience well, so of all the other applicants probably, how does that make you more of interest to us, because of course, what the courts want to do is to get the best view. So get the best students, they have to do the best applicants. And to do that they’ll be looking at how well people put themselves across. So make sure that in any application you make you don’t sell yourself short that you are selling yourself putting across what you have to offer clearly and explicitly and build false modesty. And there is also the question of references you will normally in applying for plates on course perhaps to give references from people who are in a position to say that you are well suited to a career in social work. Now an important issue here is who you ask to give you a reference. And in particular, there are two significant issues to address here. First of all, how well does the person providing the reference know you if they hardly know You’ll recall, then the maybe little he can say, in support of your application. So we do make choose somebody who is very well respected, perhaps an eminent person in their own field or whatever. And you think, Oh, yes, that state, that’s all helped me in terms of getting the plates on the course. And that may well have an element of truth. If that person barely knows you, then what can they say in any meaningful way? That will make sense to the people reading the reference? How will that make a positive difference? So make sure whoever you’re nominating as a referee as a person to give a reference, no do well enough to comment meaningfully about your application, about your potential to be a social worker. So make sure that you choose somebody who is well placed somebody who knows you well enough to make a meaningful comment about your potential to be successful social work student, and subsequently an effective social worker, somebody who hardly knows you won’t be in a position to do. And secondly, you also have to consider how much does the person you’re asking to provide a reference and know about social work, and the more they know about social work, the better. For example, when I’ve been involved in shortlisting applicants for courted, I’ve seen references from, for example, a bank manager, saying that this applicant is a reliable and trustworthy person who is ideal for a career in social work. But how much does a bank manager know? How well placed it’s a bank manager to convince people reading the reference that you’re typical for social work? So try as far as possible, you find people to give references who can make meaningful comments about your ability to be a social worker. So perhaps some dudes is a social worker, somebody who is involved directly or indirectly in social work or related fields, some dudes work along title coworkers, perhaps, who is in a position to do that. Now, it may be that you don’t know anyone, in which case, that’s fine, just do the best job you can. But do beware of putting forward a referee, who is not well placed to comment on your suitability for social work, because they don’t know much about social work, when possibly, there are other people who are much better placed who could give you better, more meaningful reference because they’re able to talk more meaningfully about you and your potential for social work. Next, we need to consider the question of police checks. There is a system in place, which tries to guarantee that people who become social workers don’t have a criminal record that makes them unsuitable for social work. So the usual pattern is that applicants have to get police clearance. They have to get confirmation that they do not have a police record, that could be a problem. Now, let me emphasize, again, a police record that could be a problem, not just a police record, full stop. There are many people who were successfully applied to Social Work courses and become social workers who have a criminal record. But it’s the type of crime when they did it, why they didn’t so on mean that they are not been disbarred from social work. Of course, if somebody has a serious criminal record, like murder, or rape, armed robbery or crimes involving violence, particularly crimes relating to children, then they’re going to be accused clearly about that suitability for social work. But if what we’re talking about is somebody who stole a madman from their local shop when they were 15, and so on, that’s not necessarily going to rule them out from a career in, in social work. So if you have a criminal record, then don’t assume automatically that that prevents you from applying that when you’re asked for that to go through the police clearance procedure. Don’t assume that that means you can’t. It all depends on the nature of the offense and where or offenses not just one When it took place, how long ago that was, and the circumstances and so on. But one thing I would emphasize strongly is you have to be entirely honest, in completing the police clearance forms. I say this because twice, I have come across people who are not honest, who said they had no offenses. And then when the the forms came through to the university concerned, it emerged that they did have offenses that were fairly minor offenses, they wouldn’t and they were a long time ago, if they actually declared them, it wouldn’t have been a problem. It wouldn’t have disbarred them from moving forward in the selection procedure. But because they were dishonest, because they in effect, lied to the courts, they were not allowed to take up a place on the course. They basically shot themselves in the foot by being dishonest about something that would not have been a problem if they’d been honest. So if you have got any offenses to name, don’t think, oh, they’re not important go action them, that will backfire against you. What you have to do is be entirely honest. And think about, is this something that actually makes you unsuitable for social work? And in very many cases, of course, it will be no, it doesn’t make you unsuitable, it’s fine. So be on it, declare it conducts fine. It may be that at some point, you’ll get the opportunity to talk about what you’ve learned from having committed an offense and gone through a court proceeding or whatever it may have been. Um, that could be a useful learning lesson at some point in the future. So when it comes to police clearances, don’t assume if you’ve got any offenses that that rules you out. And if you do have any offenses, then make sure that you declare them, or it will backfire against you. And last but not least in terms of making application is the question of interviews. If you’re shortlisted, or you’re invited for an interview at the university, what you need to bear in mind conversation I have had time and time again is along the lines of Neil. I’ve been shortlisted, I’ve got an interview at such and such University on such and such a date. What question that they’re going to ask me, What do I need to do to convince them in an interview that they should offer me, I place? The first thing I want to say is that in terms of what questions you’d like to ask, different university, that’s different questions. There’s an offset pan. But there are certain things that are likely to emerge, one of those themes will be or is likely to be, you understand what social work is. So that takes us back to lesson one. Sadly, I’ve been in situations where it’s become clear at interview, that the person concerned at a very superficial, very simplistic understanding of social work, they’ve got no idea what it would be letting themselves in for in terms of social work. This is sometimes people who have experienced to providing hands on care, they’ve been a carer of some description. And what they’re assuming is that social work will be a continuation of that they will be providing hands on care in some way, not understanding that, as one student put it to me, once, he said, I used to work in the building trade on I thought of being a social worker as being similar to being a builder. But what I realized now I’ve on the course, is it’s more like being an architect than being a builder. So if you think of being a hands on care as being equivalent of a builder, and a social worker is the equivalent of an architect, not equivalent of a builder. So people who come along with this idea that they’re going to be providing hands on care that they are going to be, for example, picking up an elderly lady and taking her to a hospital appointment, and things like that, rather than dealing with very complex demanding issues around good use for it for, for example. So one theme that is likely to emerge in an interview is Are you clear what social work is all about? You don’t have to have an in depth knowledge. You don’t have to be an expert in this. But you do need to have some clarity about what is it that social workers actually do? What is the nature of the job Imagine, for example, if somebody was applying to do a degree in nursing, and they were asking what their understanding of nursing is, and they couldn’t answer that question clearly, of course, they’re not likely to be offered a place on a nursing course. And so similar things apply to social work, there’s likely be this theme of, do you have a reasonable grounds, I could say reasonable grounds for a reasonable rational, what social work is all about? And another theme will be around something we’ve already covered on this court about, are you open to learning? Are you prepared to move forward? Or are you coming with the idea, you already have what you need, you need to be shown to be able to show that you’re open to learning in some way, you might be asked, for example, to say something about an experience you’ve had in some sort of work setting or even in a personal setting, to talk about a book or an article you’ve read, on what you’ve learned from it, how you’re able to use new knowledge in situations thousand percent of what you’ve already got. So that is another theme, you know, are you open to learning will come across. And a third thing is likely I emphasize likeliness, nothing is guaranteed, because, as I say, different courses and different approaches and ask different questions. But a possible probable third theme is around values. Are your values tuned in to social work? For example, I was once involved in an interview, where my fellow interviewer asked an applicant, we think that people can change, because something she said earlier in the interview gave us the impression that she thought people couldn’t change. And so she was asked directly, do you think people can change? And at first, she was puzzled by the question. But she thought for a moment You don’t care? And she said, Well, actually, I think I’ve come across come to this interview with the idea that people can’t change. But what you’re making me think about now is if they can’t change, and what’s the point of total work? Now, of course, that was an excellent answer. She got into a situation where it looked as though she was going to be rejected. Because her attitude, her value beats, if you like, included, the idea that you are, who you are, that your personality, it’s fixed, you can’t do anything about it, so people can’t change. So if you have, say, an abusive parent, and visa parent, they can’t change. So that then creates great difficulties, if you have that attitude, that value based in social work. But she was intelligent enough, she was alert, she was tuned in enough to a self aware enough to realize that idea was not compatible with social work. So she didn’t show itself to be an expert. She didn’t show any great expertise around whether human beings can change or not in order to another degree in psychology or anything. But what she was able to do is to show that the interviewers, she was prepared to learn that she was prepared to change. And that value base with something was open to development. Whereas people come along with fixed values, and make it clear, they’re not prepared to consider values, my values and my values, and I’m not interested in changing them, those people are really going to struggle in social work. And so that’s a sort of theme that is common in Social Work interviews. So there are issues about you understand social work, there are issues about how you’re learning three issues about where are you coming from in terms of your values. Now, that won’t cover everything. But those three things will stand you in good stead in most places most of the time. Because I’m going to say it again, because I don’t want this to be misunderstood. different universities have different approaches and different questions. But you need to be clear about those things because there is a good chance those issues will come up. And even if they don’t, it’s important that you understand those issues anyway, if you’re going to have a career in social work. So one final point in terms of interviews as well is the vast majority of people will be nervous going into an interview. They’ll feel tense and anxious. That’s fine, too. People interviewing you will more than likely take account of that. But one thing they may well want to know is How do you handle that tension? How can handle anxiety, because that’s important in social work. There will be situations where you feel tense and anxious. If you have to give evidence in court, for example, if you have to stand up a case conference and present the report, things like that. Now, these things may only happen quite rarely, but they may well happen from time to time. So an issue is, how do you handle tension and anxiety? Can you still do a reasonable job of answering the interview question questions, despite the fact that you’re tense and anxious? And if you can, that’s fine. But if the tension and anxiety mean that you can’t give meaningful answers, you don’t make sense, then that raises questions and about how effective would you be in a tense or an anxious situation as a social worker? Thanks. That brings us to the end of the lesson for about making application. And what we’ve been looking at is make sure that the quarter applying to is suitably practices and accredited. Don’t assume that the nearest course to you geographically is your bet doctrine, it may be worth traveling further to get a better learning experience. When applying, don’t hide your light under a bushel. sell yourself, convince the people reading your application that you have a lot to offer. Because this is a competitive situation. If other people sell themselves and you don’t you lose. And make sure that the references that you provide are the strongest to support your application. Make sure that the people who do the references and know you well enough to make meaningful comments, and ideally, that they have a good enough understanding of social work to make meaningful comments as well. If you have a police record, don’t assume that rules you aren’t. But make sure that you’re entirely honest and completing the forms, because it will backfire if you don’t and last but not least, interviews, there is no guarantee in terms of what you will be asked or what will be required of you. But there are certain themes that you need to be aware of understanding what social work is all about being open to learning, and being prepared to talk about your value beats and be prepared to learn about values to make sure that you don’t have closed mind when it comes to values. Hopefully this has been useful. And I’ll look forward to seeing you in the final lesson. Lesson five when you’re ready. Thank you