How To Get Aged Care Work Experience
If you’re studying your Certificate III in Aged Care, you’ll be aware that you need to complete a vocational placement with an aged care provider. It’s necessary as this is the only place you can demonstrate a lot of the practical, hands-on skills you’ll be using every day in your new career as an Aged Care Professional. It’s recommended you complete at least 80 hours in a placement, up to a maximum of 240 hours.
So how do you actually get an aged care placement?
Create a list of all the aged care providers in your area. Prioritise the ones close to home and make the most effort trying to get a placement there. You’ll save yourself a lot of time and money on commuting if you find somewhere close to home, work or other places you visit regularly.
You should also do some research and find out what kind of care each facility provides. Low care homes generally just provide accommodation with some personal care and occasional nursing care required. High care facilities generally look after people with a greater degree of frailty, who need continuous nursing care. These higher care facilities might be too intimidating when you’re just starting out, and you might need more training before you could work there.
It helps to ask!
Pick up the phone and call them or go to the facility in person and ask. Emails are too easy to forget and they might get lost, whereas a ringing phone or a person standing in reception is harder to ignore. If your phone manner is great, that might be the best option for you. Others might find a face-to-face chat more productive as you can convey a lot with non-verbal communication. Smile, make eye contact, be friendly, introduce yourself, always be polite and watch your language!
Create an amazing resume!
Resumes are a great tool as they can communicate a lot of information about yourself very quickly. It shows you’re prepared and serious, and is especially good if you’re nervous or a bit shy. It’s a nice physical reminder and fact-sheet you can leave behind so hopefully they remember you!
It’s good to write a short cover letter too – explain who you are, what you’re studying, why you’re applying for them, what you aim to achieve and how long you’d want to work there.
If you can, include some references as well. They could be from current or former employers, clubs in which you’re active, charities you volunteer for and even the coach of your sports team. Even if they’re not in the aged care sector themselves, they can vouch for you promptness, friendliness, enthusiasm, attention to detail – all your best qualities.
Make the first impression a GOOD impression!
You’re the one asking for a favour, so don’t forget it. One day you’ll be a trained aged care professional with extensive experience under your belt, but today you might be more of a burden than a help.
Make it easy for them to say yes to you. Dress yourself well – it doesn’t have to be a fancy suit, but clean, neat and presentable is a great start. Remember that you’re aiming to work with older people who may be far more socially conservative than yourself. In most places it wouldn’t be appropriate to turn up in a zombie t-shirt covered in fake blood and foul language!
Get ready for the interview before you even get offered an interview. You never know when you might be offered the opportunity. You could be invited to an immediate impromptu interview at the first facility you cold-call!
Even if you’re not offered a formal interview, you can pretty much be sure anyone interested in taking you on will slip a few questions into a casual conversation.
This could include things like:
- How will you get to work each day?
- How will you balance your work and study commitments?
- Have you worked in aged care before?
- What other jobs have you worked?
- Where do you see yourself professionally in five years?
You can find a huge list in our Interview Tips and Questions for Aged Care Jobs.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!
If you get rejected it can hurt – but remember, it’s a numbers game. If you approach enough facilities, are polite and show interest, eventually you’ll be the right person, in the right place, at the right time. If you’re still struggling to find anything, then there are some other ideas you can try.
Alternative approaches to finding aged care placements
Carefully selecting the organisation you volunteer at can be a ‘way-in’ too. If the facility you’d like to work at is owned by a non-profit organisation that provides other community services, you can put your name down to help out in one of those. It’ll give you the chance to network, make friends and let it be known you’re studying and looking for an aged care placement. When a spot opens up, you’ll be the first person they think of!
Sell yourself (in a good way!)
The internet has broken down barriers between people like never before. Take advantage of that power and put yourself out there. Gumtree, classified advertisements and other similar platforms are a resource you can utilise. They’re seen by a lot of people each day, so posting ‘work-wanted’ style ads for your aged care work placement could pay off. Make sure you multiply and diversify your adverts across many sites to maximise your exposure. Keep copies of everything you post so that you can quickly repost it when you need to. Don’t be afraid to highlight your qualities!
Use the power of social media
Social media has made it easier than ever to get in touch with people. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Pinterest and other social sites are an amazing resource when it comes to job hunting.
LinkedIn is a dedicated professional network where it’s very easy to find people in positions of authority within the aged care sector. Many jobs are advertised directly; if not, then you can at least reach out and make contact with directors of facilities and other key decision makers. First, of course, you should make a great profile with a nice picture and fill it in with all your experience and qualifications!
Twitter is especially good for making casual, non-threatening contact with strangers. Being an open platform, people are often more receptive to casual contact and questions. While profiles are less detailed, Twitterers manage to squeeze a lot of information into a tiny description of themselves and it is still possible to find people in the aged care sector. It’s also worth searching Twitter for relevant job offers, as a surprising number of positions are advertised on this micro-blogging site.
Even Facebook can be worth investigating as a medium for contact. You might be able to find friends or friends-of-friends who can help you find a placement. You can also reach out and send messages to strangers enquiring about the possibility of an aged care placement; Facebook tends to be a more ‘personal’ platform though, and people may be less receptive to advances made this way.
If you need more information about the course, be sure to check out the Cert III in Aged Care page!
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