How to get a Job in Care
Well times have changed, and due to the highly competitive nature of the industry in which care providers rely on their reputations to succeed, plus the more obvious need to deliver quality services by law, it is essential that care and support assistants are fully vetted and have the right ‘attitude’ towards working in care before a job will be offered. This includes a full understanding of what the job involves and a genuine commitment to caring for others.
We tell you how to get the care jobs that you want by understanding what employers are looking for.
Why do you want to Work in Care?
First and foremost you need to know why you want to work in care if you are considering applying for jobs. Not only for the purpose of applications and your CV, but also to have in your mind when attending an interview. Maybe it’s because you are a naturally caring person that wants to help others? Or perhaps you know somebody else working in care that has told you how much they enjoy it? Or you may have heard about the career opportunities available in care and want to gain experience and qualifications? Whatever the case, you should be able to explain the reasons that you want to work in care, so it is definitely worth taking the time to think about this before going any further.
If you haven’t done so already we highly recommend reading our article on Working in Care where we offer a general overview of the sector including potential places of work and the possible careers available. You will also find information below about interviewing for care jobs with examples of typical questions that may be asked – which will also give you an insight into what employers are looking for.
What type of Care Job to work in?
Not all care jobs are the same and you should understand what is involved with each position before making any applications. Much of this will depend upon your preferences, career aspirations, flexibility and availability, so you need to make sure of your suitability. There is no point attending interviews to find out that a job is not what you expected or that you are not actually able to meet the criteria.
Think about the type of care or support that you would like to provide, what ‘user groups’ you hope to work with and in what ‘care setting’ you would want to operate. This can help to narrow down your searches when looking for jobs and will also help to demonstrate your reasons for wanting to work in a particular role to an employer.
Which Care Employers to work for?
The question of which provider to work for has no easy to answer where there are so many variables at play. What has to be said is that all care employers set out to deliver high quality services and should all be aiming to adhere to guidelines laid out by law and governing bodies.
There are literally thousands of care employers – so plenty to choose from – ranging from small independent providers, through to franchise groups and national organisations. All have their positives and negatives in terms of career prospects and operations (as with any job or employer) so you will need to look at each service individually and assess each opportunity for yourself.
The best advice is to do your research. Where you can find reviews for companies online, be aware that you may not always get a true reflection of an employer from disgruntled workers, so use review sites to find positive comments. Better still you should ask around for yourself to get opinions of other carers and find out where they work. Most will be happy to promote their companies when they are good and may even put your name forwards.
When entering the industry you should be looking to join a good team led by an inspiring and professional manager that will help to develop your skills and knowledge in a positive environment. After all, working in care is all about the people, especially those you work with!
Obviously the package on offer is also important and you should compare conditions of employment and contracts, but don’t just apply for the jobs with the highest salary! In general all employers work at around the same rates and those that seem much higher may not work out as well when you get into the details.
Writing a CV for Care Jobs
Every day we receive enquiries from people who either don’t have an up to date CV, or any CV at all, so ask for alternatives. We have to tell them that if you want to apply for any jobs, especially jobs in care, then employers and recruiters will all require a CV make an assessment of your application and for their records.
This should not put you off of applying for vacancies and we want to share our care recruitment experience to explain how quick and easy it can be to create your CV. It is also important that you understand the purpose of the CV and how potential employers handle it.
What is a CV?
Don’t be daunted by the formality of a CV, or Curriculum Vitae! It is simply a chance to give an overview of you as a person and your employment or qualifications record if applicable. If you don’t have any qualifications or work experience then a CV is simply a chance to say a little about yourself.
How Care Employers assess your CV
CVs are important as they allow employers to initially assess you for a job. Considering that recruiters may be handling a large number of applications for various jobs, they will often scan through CVs very quickly to find key information that tells them if a candidate meets the job profile. Your aim should be to make that as easy for them as possible.
When it comes to Care Jobs the main considerations for employers are listed below.
You’d be amazed at how many people send a CV and don’t include their contact information. You should always include an email address and a phone number on your CV without fail. No one can offer you a job if they can’t get in touch!
Care employers will want to know if you are close enough to where the care service(s) will be provided? Local workers are always more beneficial to reduce things like lateness and absence due to transport or traffic problems. Every provider also knows that if people have to travel too far, or their journey to work is difficult, then they will rarely stick it out for long.
Not all care jobs will require a driving license but if they do (for client visits or having to drive service users to appointments etc) then you should see this clearly in the job description, so make it easy for recruiters to find this information on your CV as they’ll be looking for it!
Remember that you are not required to have experience to enter the care industry but if you do then an employer will know that you already understand what the job is about. If not then use your Profile or Personal Statement as suggested below. Please note that any non-professional care experience is also highly advantageous.
Your Profile or Personal Statement
This section of the CV is your opportunity to say why you are applying for this job and why you would be suitable. This should be made relevant for each job being applied for to engage the reader.
As mentioned earlier in this article, care employers want to see that you have a full understanding of the role to reduce the amount of people that leave after a short period of time as the job is not what was expected. So when you don’t have any experience this is your time to briefly show that you have carefully thought about what is involved and how you see yourself in care work.
General CV Writing Advice
How should my CV look?
Keep your CV basic and simple! As professional recruiters for many years we can say with certainty that the appearance of your CV rarely helps you to get a job over other candidates, however a badly formatted CV will be quickly overlooked. Fancy fonts and pretty borders or images can easily cause confusion. Keep the page white, the text black and use a simple font such as Arial.
How long should my CV be?
A CV can be whatever length you wish, as long as you make the information easy to access. Less is often more and there is no point in writing War and Peace or your entire biography if most of it will be ignored. Use your CV to highlight relevant information for the job you are applying for.
Care providers are required to gain a complete employment history from all candidates from the time of leaving education, with no gaps. Even if you were not working at different points in time, or have been a stay at home parent, you still have to show this in your CV or application, so it is worth doing this now rather than trying to work it out in an interview.
Should I use a Cover Letter?
There are a number of employers that will ask for a cover letter as standard, however it is important to realise that many HR and recruitment personnel will look at your CV first and could discount your application without even viewing your cover letter that contains all of the things you actually wanted them to read.
This is another reason why you should use your ‘Profile’ or ‘Personal Statement’ to also get your message across.
Why Paper CV’s are no good
If you have your CV on paper then transfer it to a computer as soon as possible. Many of the systems used by employers to track applications automatically read, or ‘parse’ your information electronically to capture your contact details etc so by sending a paper CV you are creating more work for recruiters and risking your application being put aside.
Whether you are sending your CV by email or applying for care jobs through job sites you should type (not scan) your CV on a computer and try to use a universal document type such as Microsoft Word for maximum compatibility. If you don’t have Office programmes on your computer, you can always use a public service such as a library, or find a friend to help.
Basic CV Template
Below is a very basic CV template to give you an idea of how to lay out your information and what to show. As you will see you should begin with your information followed by clearly labelled sections for anything else you wish to add.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
123 The Street
Tel: 01234 567890
Mob: 07123 456789
Born: 1st January 1970
Full UK Driving License with own Car
Education – High School/College Name
Add a ‘Qualifications’ section if applicable
I am hoping to start a career in care and would like to join your company having seen the advert for local care workers. Although I don’t have professional experience I have spoken to other care workers to find out what the job involves and feel that I would be well suited to the job as I enjoy helping others and am good with people. I am looking for full time work and understand that this will include evenings and weekends.
I look forward to an interview to discuss this further.
Work History – Most recent jobs first
July 2010 to Present – ABC Company – Job Title
- Bullet points
- List of main duties or responsibilities
- Any achievements in the job
April 2000 to July 2010 – Full Time Parent
Show all jobs/activities back to leaving education
References available on request
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Your Care Job Interview
You have to remember that a care provider is responsible for the safety and wellbeing of their potentially vulnerable clients, therefore they need to assess your suitability before allowing you to work. In addition to the interview this involves checking; your identification, right to work in the UK and criminal record before you are able to begin training.
A care job interview is very much a conversation around the job role with a view to discussing various elements of care work, as well as the chance for the company to talk about themselves and what they can offer you in your career. We have to stress that it’s not always a case of knowing the correct answers to everything, but trying to think as a care worker should, with the employer reviewing your knowledge and potential along with any areas in need of development.
Preparing for your Interview
Before we get into the interview itself we offer a few pieces of advice below. Hopefully you should already now know why you want to work in care and will also have a very good idea why you have applied for this job in particular. If not, make sure you get the answers before you turn up.
Know where you are going
Look up the address before the day so that you know where you’re going. There’s nothing worse than trying to find somewhere you don’t know if you’re in a rush. Street view in Google is also a useful tool for this.
Turn up on time
Consider this your first test. Turning up late or not showing for an interview will only show a lack of reliability which is not acceptable when working with others that will rely on you being there for them. If you are going to be late for any reason then call ahead. Also make sure to allow enough time for the interview itself which can take around an hour, especially if you have to complete the application form when there.
Research the Company
Sounds obvious but so many people don’t take the time to know some information. Visit their website and have a good read. They will probably ask what you know about them after all. You don’t need to memorise their entire site but by knowing just a little you are showing a genuine interest in working for them. It makes no sense to go for an interview without knowing anything about the job or employer!
Documents for Criminal Record check and Proof of I.D.
You should receive this information either before, or at the time of interview, but you should be aware of the documents required for the necessary checks to be made in order to process your application.
- Passport and/or National I.D. card
- Driving License – paper and card if applicable
- Proof of Address – Council Tax Bill, Bank Statement or Utility Bill – not a Mobile Phone bill
- Proof of National Insurance number – P45, P60, Letter from HMRC
- Car Insurance and MOT if applicable
Just be Yourself
There should be no need for you to be nervous, so stay relaxed and just be yourself. Most care providers are always looking for potential workers and are hoping that you will be suitable. Their aim is not to trip you up with interview questions and they want to see the real you.
Care Interview Questions
So you have arrived for your interview on time, with all of your documentation and a nice, relaxed smile because you’ve done your homework. So what should you expect on the day? We have listed just a few questions that you should expect, or similar, to help you prepare further.
Why do you want to work in care, or why have you applied for this job?
Do you know anything about our company?
What do you think a care worker does?
What do you think makes a good care worker?
Do you have any examples of where you have helped somebody else before?
What is you availability for work? Evenings, Weekends etc
What are your thoughts on personal care?
How reliable are you as a person and why do you think that commitment is important in care work?
Do you have any questions for us?