Contacts to use in your job search

So you’ve handed in your notice or at least told your senior supervisor and team manager that you’re actively looking for a new job. If your manager and supervisor are reasonable, they’ll allow you to take the odd day here and there as annual leave in order to focus on your job search or attend a job interview.

However, at this time of year it’s entirely likely you’ve used up all of your annual leave, or perhaps you still have a few days left that you’re saving for the Christmas period. Also, we all know how difficult it is to take even the minimal amount of time off from a social work or social care job. After all, who wants to come back to a backlog of home visits, needs assessments and grant applications?

When you do take time off to focus on your job search, therefore, it is vital to use your time as wisely as possible. This is even more so the case if you’re literally not going to take any time off but will instead conduct the entirety of your job hunt in the evenings and at the weekends.

Some job seekers may have the luxury of plenty of time to make new contacts at various networking events—new contacts who can open doors of opportunities to them. However, you most probably don’t have the luxury of being able to attend a networking event a day.

Besides, existing contacts can be just as useful to you in your job search as new connections, if not more so. Think about it—the people you already know will in turn already know what you want and what you’re suited to.

The problem here is, of course, that due to the time-consuming and highly pressurized nature of your profession, you may not have many contacts outside of work, apart from your immediate family and your flatmates. Well, why not tap up the contacts you’ve made through work?

After all, one of the beauties of social work and social care jobs is that they bring you into regular contact with a wide array of team members and fellow health professionals. And due to the fluid and global nature of the sector’s labour market, anyone in the sector is bound to have connections in various teams, offices, departments, hospitals, councils, cities and even countries. If you don’t know someone who can help you in your career aims, you probably do know someone who does know the person you’re looking for.

Here are some people you come across in your everyday working life who might just help you find a job, either directly or indirectly, if you ask nicely.

1. Your team members. Look around your office. Due to the cosmopolitan nature of the UK social care industry, someone in your team has probably already worked in the borough, town or nation that you’re trying to find a way into. And if they don’t, they know someone who has.

2. Your senior supervisor or team manager. One advantage of being upfront with your superiors about your desire to change jobs is that they can help you find a suitable opening. With so many years of experience on their CVs, just imagine how many different social work teams or care agencies they’ve worked in and still have contact with.

3. Temps. Whether these are temps within your own team or temping caregivers, occupational therapists and physiotherapists that you’ve met through mutual service users, people who are career temps are obviously going to have moved around a lot and will have a lot of friends in the industry. Could one of those friends be the key to a new role for you?

4. Hospital staff. If you work in a hospital-based team, you’ll no doubt have gotten to know various discharge nurses, ward doctors and other healthcare professionals who work in the hospital, especially if the majority of the service users who get assigned to you are current or previous inpatients. As the medical sector also has a fluid labour market, these professionals will have previously worked in other hospitals or will at least be able to put you in contact with colleagues, friends or relatives who have. If you’re looking for another hospital-based position, it’s worth targeting this type of contact.

5. The council. As a social worker or care co-ordinator, you probably work for a particular council or borough, or at least for a care agency that has a long-running contract with the council. And you also know that there is more than one social work team in the borough. So if you want to stay local to where you already are and enjoy having that particular council as an employer, why not ask the council if you could possibly be transferred to a different team within its jurisdiction? Yes, perhaps that ideal new job you’ve been looking for has been in your backyard all along.

By Nisa Chitakasem, Founder of Position Ignition, a careers consultancy dedicated to helping you with your career choices and challenges. We’re passionate about helping you to find the right career path for you – whether it involves finding a more rewarding career, making a career change, figuring out the right career plan or being creative about career direction.

For free advice, guidance and information on careers visit the Position Ignition Career Blog or find us on Twitter @PosIgnition or Facebook

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