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Taking Time out of Social Work - Help or Hinderance?

Jamie Trick

Jamie Trick

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Taking time out of Social Work – Help or Hinderance?

Social Work is a highly stressful job that can put you in unimaginable situations and require you to work long unsociable hours, often for little personal reward.
To be successful you need to be an immensely strong, passionate and caring individual but even the best Social Workers need / earn themselves a break from time to time.
Financially, the sector can reward Social Workers with the ability to take time off work to rest, recuperate and de-stress, without causing significant financial harm and I am interested to know how a “break” from Social Work can affect a Social Worker and a Social Workers career.

From a recruiters’ perspective, any CV I find that has a break in employment is highly scrutinised. Managers and internal recruitment teams want to know what happened and simply “taking a break” is often not acceptable. If there isn’t an ill relative, some form of travel / holiday or another explained reason why, there is often resistance and results in CV’s getting rejected.
In a sector where there is an industry wide shortage of candidates, I genuinely think Managers overlook quality Social Workers purely because they decided to take a break and leave themselves and other Social workers under more stress with higher case-loads as the vacancy remains open.

I think this is a problem – I truly believe that a break for Social Workers is sometimes necessary and can really help however at the moment, it can result in Social Workers being lost to the industry as they can’t get back into a role.
I have recently read on Community Care about a “Return to Social Work” programme being run by local governments which will hopefully help address the problem. I also know some Universities run a similar scheme but the question will be whether or not Team Managers and Internal recruitment teams will accept and value this course.

I would love to hear from Social Workers who have taken successful breaks and how it affected their careers, as well as Social Workers who did take a break and regretted it.

For anyone who is struggling to get back into the industry – more information on the “Return to Work Scheme” can be found here -

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