Welcome to the 32nd episode of the Graduate Job Podcast.
We focus down again for episode 32, which is the second of our two part special on graduate jobs in social work, as I speak to Ivan Wise, Recruitment Director at Think Ahead. We delve into Think Ahead and its ground breaking 26 month graduate social work programme, examining what exactly it is, how you apply, and how you can stand out. We discuss the application process in detail and also cover why you should consider Think Ahead as your fast-track into a career in mental health social work. If you’ve ever thought about a career in social work then this is an episode you won’t want to miss. This episode came about after a request from a listener, so if you have any particular people or industries you would like me to speak to on future shows, drop me a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. I read everything and I can’t wait to hear from you. But, let’s not dilly dally, and hop straight across to episode 32.
MORE SPECIFICALLY IN THIS EPISODE YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT:
– What Think Ahead is and why you should apply
– The importance of their 7 attributes in the application process
– Why you need dust down your webcam and record a short video
– Top tips to make your online application stand out from the crowd
– Everything you need to know about the Think Ahead assessment centre
– Why speaking to a current mental health social worker should be on your to-do list!
IF YOU FOUND THIS USEFUL, CHECK OUT THESE EPISODES:
– My interview with Teach First, the fast track scheme into teaching
– My interview with Frontline. the fast track graduate scheme into social work
– My interview with Police Now. the fast track graduate scheme into policing
– My interview on how to pass aptitude tests (verbal, numeric, situational judgement etc.) which you will face when you apply to Think Ahead.
– My episodes on how to impress at assessment centres
- #37: How to Succeed at Assessment Centres, with Kath Houston
- #2: How to ace assessment centres with Denise Taylor
– My episodes on impressing at job interviews
– The Think Ahead website
– The Community Care website – Ivan’s top website recommendation
#32 – How to get a job in Mental Health Social Work with Think Ahead
James: Hello, my name is James Curran and welcome to the Graduate Job Podcast. The Graduate Job Podcast is your weekly home for all things related to helping you on your journey to finding that amazing job. Each week I bring together the best minds in the industry, speaking to leading authors, entrepreneurs, coaches and bloggers who bring decades of experience into a byte size weekly 30 minute show. Put simply, this is the show I wish I had a decade ago when I graduated.
We focus down again for episode 32, which is the second of our two part special on graduate jobs in social work, as I speak to Ivan Wise, Recruitment Director at Think Ahead. We delve into Think Ahead and its ground breaking 26 month graduate social work programme, examining what exactly it is, how you apply, and how you can stand out. We discuss the application process in detail and also cover why you should think about Think Ahead as your fast-track into a career in mental health social work. If you’ve ever thought about a career in social work then this is an episode you won’t want to miss. As always, links to all we discuss and a full transcript are available in the show notes at www.graduatejobpodcast.com/Thinkahead. This episode came about after a request from a listener, so if you have any particular people or industries you would like me to speak to on future shows, drop me a mail at email@example.com. I read everything and I can’t wait to hear from you. But, let’s not dilly dally, and hop straight across to episode 32.
James: Really pleased today to be speaking to Ivan Wise. Ivan is the recruitment director at Think Ahead. Think Ahead is a new programme which is looking at hiring high potential graduates or career changes into mental health here in the UK. Ivan, welcome to the Graduate Job Podcast.
Ivan: Hello, nice to talk to you.
James: So to kick off, would you like to give us an introduction into Think Ahead and describe to our listeners what the scheme is and how it works?
Ivan: Think Ahead is a brand new programme, it’s aim to is a new route into social work, in particular mental health social work, opening for applications around now. It’s first every programme is going to be starting next year, July 2016 were we are going to have our first cohort of mental health social workers undertake a two-year programme. Other schemes of a fast track nature have existed before but this is the first time there has been one in this field of mental health social work.
James: And I was reading on your website some of the stats around mental health illness generally and it was really surprising just how prevalent it is. 40% of ill health is caused by mental health issues; one in four adults have mental health issues, 20% of police time spent dealing with mental health issues so it’s a massive, massive issue out there.
Ivan: Exactly, the background to the establishment of Think Ahead was a growing awareness not only with mental health, a dramatically increasing issue which effects this country; also the awareness of it needed increasing as well. So a couple of years ago the Department of Health looked into the idea of starting a new fast track scheme within an area of adult health care so they commissioned the Institute of Public Policy Research to look at whether a new fast track scheme along the lines of other schemes, a new route in, might work for adult social care. And the think thank the IPPR looked into it and they aligned on the issue of adult mental health social work as being the one most suited to a new fast track scheme within this context growing demand from people suffering adult mental health and also recognition it wasn’t seen as the profession for graduates which was prestigious or having a high status. Also lots of research has been done to show that during final year of university or shortly after graduating it was not considering it and showed no likelihood in applying to, it showed that very highest achievers from universitywere going on to study after this in postgraduate capacity. So the idea was, was it possible to pack in a new scheme were by, people who have outstanding communication skills, now asking for legal skills or research skills, empathy relationships building, all those sorts of things how could they be attracted to coming to mental health social work, and the research the IPPR did led to formation of the Think Ahead organisation last year with the very specific ambition of increasing the supply of really outstanding graduates going into mental health social work as a career.
James: How many graduates are you looking to recruit this year?
Ivan: We are looking for between 80 and 100 people who can start July 2016 and they are a mixture of brand new graduates, so we expect some of those people to be straight out of graduating but other people who will come from a different career, a career change of different ages, so the qualifications they will have will be at least an undergraduate degree but we expect at least up to 100 people to apply for next summer.
James: And in terms of that graduate degree, are there any specifications around the type of degree or are you open to a broad range of subjects?
Ivan: Well we are open to a broad range of subjects, the people who undertake the Think Ahead programme are participants that come from a cohort that, other than not having done social work before because obviously it’s a social work training programme, it’s open for anyone from any undergraduate disciple from any degree structure. The aim of the programme was to really reach out and get some of those outstanding people out there, who have got that range of skills and attributes that we are looking for, but may have studied something very different. Now inevitably there are a range of degrees with a certain level of cross over, our early indications are that people who have studied psychology are particularly interested in Think Ahead as a career option for them but we are certainly interested in people who have studied any subject at undergraduate level.
James: So thinking ahead then, say if I applied and I was successful, come round to July 2016 what would I actually be doing?
Ivan: It’s a very structured programme. It’s certainly very influenced by some of the very big fast track schemes that are now out there. The aim is, it’s a 26 month programme, so just over 2 years. When people start in July 2016 they will start with a residential summer institute and the idea of that is it’s initially a grounding in all the elements of mental health social work that they will need to undertake in the programme. So it’s a six week residential, which takes place in Leeds, so all our first cohort will undertake together. The academic teaching will be done by the university of York, so a series of their lecturers will be undertaking modules in aspects of, and introductory aspects of mental health social work over those six weeks and then after a break at the beginning of September next year 2016, all of our different participants will be assigned to a local authority or NHS mental health trust and we’ll be working with both programmes so that we will be working with a number of different regions around England and they’ll be working with that trust over two years. So the key aspect is that they will be working within a group or cohort of three people; so of the initial group that start over the six weeks in Leeds next summer, each of them will then go into groups of at least four and they’ll spend at least two years in that group of four so they’ll get to learn a lot from each other and undertake a lot of the teaching and the placements together but over the two years they’ll be spending lots and lots of time on placement. The aim of the Think Ahead programme like many of the fast track schemes is rather than teaching people all the theory and then two years later, or three years later they then go and do some practice, the idea is that it is blended together so that over the period of the two years they will be working within a NHS trust and local authorities doing specific placements around all aspects of social work with a focus on adult mental health but also at the same time every couple of weeks having further teaching and they’ll be studying towards a post graduate diploma in social work in the first year and then a masters in social work in the second year so it will be a real combination of the academic learning and the placements but all the time it will be within that group of at least four people so that they will not be let off on their own and they’ll be with four people who will be learning very similar things to them.
James: Brilliant, sounds like you’d get to know and make brilliant friends with those four people over the two years.
Ivan: You’re absolutely right and one of the interesting aspects of mental health social work is that mental health trusts are established in a way that is integrated care. So social workers don’t simply work with other social workers they work with psychologists, they work with psychiatrists, occupational therapists, nurses, all other disciplines within the mental health trust team. So a key aspect of these participants who are involved would be to interrelate and interact and influence those other professionals within their team and this is one of the many things that makes it a real interesting, unusual programme; that rather than simply working day to day with people who do very similar things to you, well they do that as well but they’ll also be working with people doing quite different things within a medical sphere and other aspects of mental health and the from the point of view of the service users, the point of view from the people who benefit from our social workers, is how the different professionals interrelate for their benefit and that’s the important part.
James: You talked about different placements there, would they be geographically dispersed or would the placements all be in the one region?
Ivan: They’ll be within one trust or local authority area, so somebody working with the local authority in London, all their different placements would all be in the area or geographical region. So, it might be different locations but in a specific limited geographical area. So over the whole two years they’ll be assigned to that one geographical area, although many of our participants may move to undertake this role initially, they may be moving from different parts of the country to start their role, over the two years they’ll remain in the same geographical area, although doing a series of placements within that area.
James: And the geographical spread, do you have a, will you have applicants all over the country?
Ivan: We’ll have them in several key regions, so the regions we will be working in are across London, the South East of England, East and West Midlands, Yorkshire and the North East of England, so all of our participants will be one of those specific geographical areas. One of our ambitions, as with any new organisation is to, we want to see how effective we can be with the idea that down the line we can increase our geographical reach but those are the geographical areas we are working with in our first cohort, due to start July 2016.
James: So in terms of the work that the graduates will be doing within mental health, do they get much choice in terms of the specific aspects of mental health or is it for the first two years they’ll get a broad experience across the whole different range?
Ivan: The idea is that all of our participants will get a broad understanding of social work generally, so although there is clearly a focus on adult mental health our participants will do a placement in contrasting environments as well to also experience other areas of social work as the qualification they will come out with at the end of the two years is in social work generally. Over the period of time they will be working under what we call a consultant social worker who is an established practising qualified social worker who will be supervising them and assisting them through the various placements, so that group of four that I mentioned who will be assigned to a various trust, all the time during that first year they will be working under that consultant social worker. Partially, who’s role is to support them, assist them, guide them with their needs for what is a very difficult and for many people a very different role to what they’ve done before but also part of their role is to ensure that they get a broad understanding of the different fields that they may end up working in. So, seeing different aspects and different elements of people with different areas of mental ill health but also all different parts of the process, so seeing people at home, people within hospitals, people within the court environment and the police sector, so on and so forth. The aim really is to ensure that our participants get a very broad understanding and direct experience of the different areas of social work.
James: Wow, and in terms of candidate skills, you mentioned a couple of them, what are the core skills you are looking for from the participants?
Ivan: Well we, as I mentioned, are not looking for a specific degree background, so we don’t regard that in itself as inheritably important but what we are looking for is a range of attributes, as we call them, that we think are vital to undertake a role in mental health and social worker. So what we are going to be assessing people all the way through the process is from the initial screening stage, the assessing stage, but what we are really looking for is a series of attributes that people can demonstrate that will match what the job will involve. So, they may have got these attributes from a number of different places, they may have got them from jobs they’ve done before, their studies or other experiences they’ve had but they are particular attributes that we are looking to test that we feel will match the suitability to the role.
James: And what are those key attributes?
Ivan: So there’s a range of them, the most important one, one we talk quite a lot about throughout our whole literature in our programme is leadership. What we are looking for is people who have the ability and have demonstrated in the past that they can be leaders, that they have the ability to influence others, to work with people to achieve better outcomes. We want the graduates of our programme to not only thrive in their two years at Think Ahead, but to go on to other jobs within mental health, within social work, within the social work sector more generally, that will enable them to lead others to develop the course of the sector. So leadership is possibly the most crucial one, one we are looking to really shine out in our applicants, are they able to influence and lead others?
The other attributes we are looking for are around other areas you might expect, so some are around communication, as I mentioned earlier the importance of that interrelation with others within that mental health trust team, so can they speak to and negotiate with psychologists and psychiatrists and doctors. How are they on paper in terms of getting their ideas across and how are they able to influence and negotiate? So that communication side of things is crucial, linked to that is their ability to build relationships. So there is no doubt at all that some people who work within or will apply for graduate jobs have great ability to lead others and communicate with others but maybe not to build relationships over time. What we are looking for is a group or a cohort of people who can not only communicate with people the first time they meet them but very quickly build a very strong relationship with them. So we are looking for people who can build relationships with the clients and the people they are working with over time. So those are three of the most important ones, but there are some other things as well. We want participants to show leadership, to show communication skills, to show relationship building skills. We are also looking for adaptability, so most people have some idea of social work that involves dealing with people in often different and challenging situations, we are looking for people who can go into a scenario which they know very little about were unpredictable things may happen and we are really looking for them to very quickly come forward and demonstrate how they can personal, how they can win people round. So adaptability is very crucial, that they can very quickly demonstrate their adaptability is absolutely crucial, that they need to be able to move rapidly from a new situation to winning people over. So they are some of the main attributes we are looking for, there are others as well which are all on the Think Ahead website but I think those are some of the crucial ones that people need to be aware of.
James: And how important is it that people have previous experience in, even mental health or social work?
Ivan: Well we don’t require it as compulsory for people to have that so, what we are looking for is that people have done things in their lives that they can demonstrate through their application and assessments, demonstrate their ability to meet those attributes so how much they lead people, their communication skills, their relationship building skills. They don’t need to have worked in social work before, they don’t need to have worked in mental health specifically but if they haven’t done those things they need to demonstrate how they can meet those attributes through other things. So it might be through what they’ve studied, it might be through volunteering, or counselling work or it might be through other jobs that demonstrate those skills but they don’t, and this is unusual perhaps for routes into social work, they don’t need to have had as a matter of course, had a specific social work placement before.
James: So moving on then to the application process itself, you mentioned the process is open at the moment, what does the application process look like?
Ivan: So the application form is online at our website Thinkahead.org and we have a series of questions there were we really try and get a sense of what people’s suitability is for our placement, we are hoping this will be a very popular scheme, we are hoping lots of people will apply so what we are hoping for is that lots and lots of people who apply have got the skills that we are looking for. So as I mentioned already leadership, relationship building, communication and adaptability, we are also looking for motivation. So one of the early questions on the application form is ‘What is your interest in this programme? Why do you want to get involved?’ So we are looking for people who are not only interested in social work and mental health, but Think Ahead’s very specific approach, this fast track approach, this working within an NHS trust or local authority from very early on and combining academic learning with placement experience. We are looking for people who can solve problems and we are looking for people who have self-awareness, can take critical feedback and so forth. So the questions on the application form directly ask about aspects of peoples experiences in life and outlook which directly relate to those seven attributes; leadership, motivation, adaptability, relationship building, communication, problem solving, self-awareness. There are other questions on there around referees and people’s contact information but the core of it is around those seven attributes and then we also have an optional video element were people can upload a two-minute video of themselves talking about why they want to be involved in Think Ahead. So for people who want to submit their written application they can upload a video, we encourage it, it is obviously another way for people to demonstrate why they are passionate about undertaking social work. So that’s the first stage, it’s an application form and it’s online right now for people to submit and you can save it as you go along so that you don’t have to do it all in one go and they can submit it any time during the application process.
James: So with the video interviews, have you found most people have been submitting them with their applications?
Ivan: It’s very early days, we have only been open for a couple of weeks we’ve found a good proportion so far have already been submitting videos and I hope that continues as I think it’s just another way of people demonstrating their passion. Often people’s passion can come out on paper but can often come out from people speaking about their experiences so people have been doing it and I hope that continues.
James: So with the video, what is it you’re looking for, apart from that passion?
Ivan: We are really looking for people to supplement what they have written in their written application around those attributes, around experiences they’ve had and understanding what it is we are looking for. Why they are choosing Think Ahead rather than doing a masters through a traditional university route, why is it that they or how have they displayed their adaptability in the past, what problems have they solved that have been difficult for them, what is their evidence of their motivation to become a social worker, why they are choosing this particular graduate placement rather than some of the others that are available. So it’s not asking for additional information but another forum for people to show those sorts of things.
James: So, top tip for you there listeners, start up those webcams and make sure you have a video application as well. So moving on them from the online application and the video application, what would be the next stage? Is it through to an assessment centre?
Ivan: Not quite, the section that happens after that is that the people who are successful at the initial application stage are then invited to undertake a situational judgement test, which is one of those tests were you get a set of questions which is very specific to the job in question so being a mental health social worker, so there are a series of scenarios that people have to have a look at and then they take an online test that they can do in their own time that asks them which of these multiple choice options would you be least or most likely to do, the scenarios we are asking people about are based on real life experiences so large networks of what we call our professionals network of social workers experiences and also we have our service network, so we have a network of service users and careers and social workers all the same advisers on what we do as an organisation and the decisions we make and they have given really good feedback to form the basis for those questions. So the second stage of the application is you will then be sent a situational judgement test and will be asked about different situations in social work and you are asked how you would deal with that situation if you were to come up against it.
James: Any advice for those situational tests other than to be honest?
Ivan: Well I think the key thing to understand what the role of the social worker is, so the more knowledge you have and understanding of the role the better so there’s lots of places you can read up and lots of people you could potentially talk to who have worked as a social worker as the role is a lot broader than many people think it is; it is not simply just talking to people who are having difficulties, it’s being their advocate, it’s being their standard bearer so when they are having their difficulties its being the person who can help them get a job, help them get benefits, help them get access to their children, help them through the legal systems or court systems. It’s about understanding the intricacies of the social worker role in conjunction with the doctors and psychiatrists, psychologists, occupational therapists that I mention. It’s understanding the business of the role, everyone hears all the time that social workers often have lots of different cases to deal with all at once, how do you make priority decisions when you have several different things all going on at once? So I think the best preparation people can do is to get a good sense of what social workers actually do either by talking to people who have done the role, reading about what they say, I think that will help you when you are answering those questions.
James: Excellent advice there. In the assessment centre, what would that look like? Is that a full day/half day? Is that in London?
Ivan: It’s going to be in a couple of different locations across London and Birmingham. It will be half a day, there will be a number of different elements to it. As an organisation we have been to see lots of assessment centres of other organisations within this space, so within the public sector, within the charity sector and the aim of what we are trying to achieve within our assessment is firstly to get the very best we can from our people, we are not trying to catch people out we really are trying to get people to perform at their best, and we are trying to replicate lots of different elements of the role and seeing how people perform in it, so although there are traditional aspects, like an interview, within the assessment centre lots of it is about people doing things and acting like they would need to in the role. So we have a range of different tasks people will have to undertake with the aim that they will have seen what the role of a social worker involves so the people we then select from that we can feel as confident as we can possibly be that we’ve seen them do the things they are doing when they are on the Think Ahead programme and the people we will pick are obviously the ones who have shown an understanding and competence of all those different aspects and have meet all those different attributes I mentioned before; all those relationship, communication, things we spoke of earlier.
James: So what advice would you give to someone to make sure they stand out during the assessment centre?
Ivan: Well, the first thing to be said is that it is not inherently competitive i.e. we don’t have a quota, so it’s a group assessment but we won’t have only three people from the assessment will go through. The idea is that over the course of the assessment we have a very clear bar and this is the standard we require and then if we have a high quality group all those people will go through. They are not in competition with each other, so to say, it is about getting above the bar in all the attributes that we are talking about and it is a high bar, we expect this to be high standard but it’s not competitive in maybe the sense that some people might see it. So that’s the first thing.
The second thing is that we are really looking for people to perform at their best and so it is absolutely crucial that people can come along to the assessments and be themselves, they can be as natural as possible, they can behave as they would do on the job, because we are looking for the authenticity of people and not only how they perform themselves but how the interrelate towards others as well. So obviously it’s always hard to say to people don’t be nervous but obviously we want people to be relaxed as obviously that’s when people perform better.
And the third thing is, as with any group assessment, because there are different elements to it, it’s important for people to understand that although it’s important for people to perform generally and in all the individual bits because there is so many elements to it people shouldn’t feel that if the interview has gone not so well that that’s it, but there are lots of different ways that you can impress and also, and I’m sure lots of employers say this, often the people being assessed isn’t the best judgement of how they’ve done themselves. So we want people not to kind of give up hope if they think it’s not gone too well to begin with. Firstly, there are lots of places you can show your attributes and all our attributes are tested at least twice throughout the assessment but also, and I’ve often found this myself, just because you don’t feel you’ve done a good job doesn’t mean, you’re not the one assessing, it’s the assessors who make that decision so it’s important not to lose hope as you may have done better than you realise.
James: That’s really good advice, and then with the scheme what kind of salary would the graduates be looking at?
Ivan: The first thing to be said is that there aren’t tuition fees for this programme. So generally for people studying for social work bachelors or masters, the traditional routes in they’ll need to pay tuition fees so there aren’t any tuition fees on this programme which is obviously an unusual aspect for a route into social work and hopefully that will be one of the aspects that makes this an appealing programme. Then when people actually start they will be paid a bursary by Think Ahead and it will be a virtual equivalent to a salary of about £19,000 outside London and about £22,000 inside London. So that’s obviously the first part of the programme between July 2016 and September 2017 and then the second year people will be employed by their local trust or NHS trust or local authorities and that will be a little bit more than that, that will be a taxable salary of around £22,000 outside London and a little bit more inside London. So those are roughly the amounts people will get and then at the end of the two years you are fully qualified as social workers and then you go on to the social work banding and a lot of that information about the different banding for social work, and social workers when they qualify but it then gets you around the mid 20’s, £20,000 after qualification as a social worker.
James: Excellent, Ivan unfortunately time is running away with us but one final question before we move to our weekly questions, what would you say to someone to convince them who is in two minds about Think Ahead?
Ivan: I think Think Ahead is a real unique opportunity for people who want a real personal challenge, to really test their skills to show their ability to communicate and build relationships, to lead people, to really move those skills along and to really make a dramatic boost from their own point of view and secondly that there is a real profound ability to impact people’s lives. Think Ahead really tries to do both, it really tries to improve people’s personal skills and to launch them onto a career that will be of great benefit to others and to themselves but secondly it’s another opportunity over the 26 months at Think Ahead for people to make a very dramatic impact on people’s lives and most of the social workers I have spoken to have said that that’s the most appealing part to them the real ability to influence and impact for the better on individuals lives.
James: That’s it, there’s not going to be many graduate jobs were you will be having such an impact on the lives of other people.
James: So moving now to our quick-fire weekly questions, Ivan what book would you recommend for our listeners to read?
Ivan: I would really encourage people to read accounts by practising social workers which are available in book form, they are available in blogs and get a real sense of what people who work as social workers talk about the job, what they say and what they do. So I wouldn’t really recommend people to get an individual book but I would recommend people to get first-hand accounts of people who have done this job so you can really get a sense of is this for me, would I enjoy doing this.
James: And also it would be great to refer back to that throughout the application process, the reasons why you want to work for Think Ahead. And also, what website would you recommend people visit?
Ivan: At Think Ahead we often use the community care website which can give you lots of information about what is going on in the social care sector within social work, within mental health social work and so if you wish to be ahead of current events and what is going on in the sector, what are the big issues, what are the difficulties, what are the challenges, what are the opportunities, then the community care website is a good place to start.
James: And I will link to that in the show notes, you’ll be able to find the links to that at graduatejobpodcast.com/thinkahead. And finally Ivan, what one tip would you give our listeners that they could implement today on their job hunt?
Ivan: My number one tip would be to ask yourself the question ‘why is it that this employer should take me on?’ What is it about myself that lends skills and benefits to the potential employer? Lots of graduates just think about this as this is what I want to do. Think about it from the point of view from the employer, what skills, what experiences, what ideas, what tenacity, what leadership, what adaptability are you going to give that employer. Look at it from their point of view and it will help to answer a lot of your questions.
James: I love it, that’s a brilliant question and as you say it’s normally just about why they want to join as opposed to the skills that they can bring. Ivan thank you so much for appearing on The Graduate Job Podcast, before we finish what is the best way people can get in touch with Think Ahead and apply?
Ivan: The best way to get more information and apply is through the Think Ahead website which is Thinkahead.org
James: And as I mentioned that will be linked to in the show notes. Ivan thank you very much for your time today.
Ivan: Thank you very much.
James: Thankyou again to Ivan Wise from Think Ahead. Three points I wanted to highlight that stood out for me. The first on the scheme itself, and then 2 on your application. Number 1. If you want a practical hands on introduction to mental health social work, then stop looking, because this is definitely for you! You’ve got an amazing opportunity to be in the first cohort for what will be a life changing 26 months. Will it push, challenge and stretch you, and take you out of your comfort zone? Certainly will!! It’s not going to be easy. But I love the idea that you will be going through it in a group of 4, so you can learn, and grow together and make lifelong friends in the process. Whilst also making a difference on a day to day basis in the lives of the clients you will be working with. There aren’t many graduate schemes were you can say that! Applications are no open, so don’t hang about.
Now on to my second point on the application process and standing out. One aspect that really stood out for me in what Ivan said, and he said it several times, is that you really really need to know about the role of the social worker. This is something they are going to drill you on at each stage of the process. They only have 100 spaces to fill so they aren’t going to waste them on people who don’t know what they are getting themselves into. You need to know exactly about what the role entails and what you will be doing on a day to day basis, not what you think or hope it entails, but the nuts and bolts of what a day in the life of a social worker is all about. Make sure you speak to existing social workers, find out about their real life experiences, challenges, Frustrations. Be well read, on the subject with newspapers and books, because if you’re not. Be prepared to get knocked back.
Third point is on being prepared generally! Ivan spelt them out and they are very clearly spelt out on the website the 7 attributes that Think Ahead are looking for. You need to first, make sure you know what they are. Then secondly make sure that you have at least 2 decent answers that you’re ready to talk about in interviews for each of them. You’re going to be asked about them, so there is no excuse for not being prepared and having some cracking answers up your sleeve. Throughout your application from your initial online application, to your video and face to face interview, be very explicit in making sure your answers are relating to these 7 attributes. And also crucially, make sure you can knock out of the park the question “why Think Ahead?”. Why you want a 26 month practical programme over a theoretical Master’s degree. Why social work, why they should hire you, why you are suited for the job. You know that these questions are coming so do your homework and be prepared.
So there you go, episode 32 done! Check out www.graduatejobpodcast.com/thinkahead for links to everything we have discussed. Do get in touch with us on Twitter @gradjobpodcast or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org I love getting your feedback, so let me know what you liked, or what you would like to see more of. If you’ve enjoyed the show please leave a review on ITunes or Stitcher radio, as I say every week it’s the best way other than sharing us with your friends to show appreciation for the podcast and it helps massively in the ranking on iTunes. Also if you’ve not already subscribed via your podcast provider of choice you need to sort that out, it’s the easiest way to get each episode delivered to you for free and to make sure that you don’t miss a thing. Join me next week as I speak with Inge Woudstra, as we examine the possibly thorny topic of the role gender plays in your job search. I hope you enjoyed the episode today, but more importantly I hope you use it and apply it. See you next week