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Candidate Advice

How to Start a Successful Career in Care

It’s likely that every one of us will need the skills of a care professional at some stage of our lives; if we fall ill, as we age, or if we need a little more support than usual in our daily lives. As the care industry changes to meet modern needs, new job opportunities are always coming up, whether this is in social work, health care, personal care, protection or support. Any area of care however, offers its workers the chance to make a real difference to people’s lives, making it a very rewarding career.

It’s not always necessary to have specific qualifications or experience to start a successful career in care, so this is an industry that has great opportunities for everyone. Whatever your background, age or level of experience, if you have always wanted a job that helps others, there are a number of roles open to you. Not just for education leavers, more and more people are also switching to a career in care, as job satisfaction becomes a driving factor in our work choices.

The first thing to do is think about what kind of care you would like to specialise in. With services available for adults or children, those at risk, or those who have additional needs arising from illness, disability, age or low incomes, there is plenty to consider. Ultimately though, all care industry roles are just that – ‘care,’ so you need to ask yourself if you would be passionate about helping others improve their quality of living.

Being able to build relationships with patients and service users is very important and people need to learn to trust you. These relationships can take time and effort to build up, so you’ll also need patience, friendliness and great communication skills.

There are lots of ways to get your career underway. Voluntary work can be a great starting point, as this will give you some time to find out what sort of role you would be interested in and what client group you would like to work with. Look into what options there are in your local area – community centres, youth centres and churches often have support groups run by volunteers. This could give you a chance to try out certain types of work, whilst building up your skills and contacts.

Apprenticeships and vocational qualifications are another great way to start out and essentially let you learn on the job. You will receive structured training with an employer, that leads to a nationally recognised qualification. With different levels of qualification, apprenticeships can take anything from one to four years to complete and are open to anyone over the age of 16, so are an option for most people whether you are just leaving school, or someone looking for a career change later in life. As an apprentice, you’ll earn as you learn, with quality training and mentoring to help you achieve your diploma. Most apprentices secure employment at the end of their training – often with the same employer. Vocational qualifications can cover a wide range of diplomas with the flexibility to suit all fields of care. Sector-specific, they will teach you the practical skills needed for a particular line of work.

Whatever your entry route, make sure that you take every opportunity to learn and develop. With the industry changing all the time, there are lots of short courses available for people to learn about important aspects of the sector. If you’re already in a care role, taking any extra training opportunities offered to you is a great way to show your enthusiasm and commitment and will help you to progress if you are looking for promotion or more responsibility. Many employers are willing to fund or contribute to the cost of training courses.

Once you have an idea of the sort of path you’d like to take, speak to a specialist recruitment consultant about the options and job roles that might be open to you. Searching for jobs can be a confusing business, especially if you’re just starting out. A recruiter that specialises in a particular employment sector will be able to advise you which opportunities best suit your skills and experience.

It’s also important to find the right employer, committed to investing in their staff development, including continued professional training. With extensive knowledge of both the healthcare and recruitment industries, and with excellent relationships with their many clients, Safehands Recruitment can give you the right assistance and direction in finding the best role for you.

How did you get into care? Share your stories with us on Facebook or Twitter – we’d love to hear from you.

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