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First steps to becoming a Locum Social Worker

Due to the profession’s sensitive nature, becoming a Social Worker can sometimes be a long and complicated process, so we wanted to simplify it into manageable steps that will hopefully guide you in the right direction! Follow this guide and let us know how you get on! 

Select an agency you’d like to work with    

There are a large number of specialist social work agencies available throughout the UK. The most important thing is that you feel confident working with the agency you choose. Each agency is able to offer you something slightly different, for example, some agencies have direct relationships with local authorities so can offer you vacancies as soon as they are notified by the local authority. Whilst others will be on a second tier supplier list, so will only be notified about vacancies much further down the line. Within the recruitment agency you will be assigned a consultant; your consultant will be responsible for finding the best roles for you and supporting you with your job search.

Provide your chosen agency with an updated CV

Your CV is your sales tool for the hiring manager. It needs to clearly show your relevant experience and skills for each job you have had. Try not to focus on generic tasks of each role but the more specialist skills and experience that you have gained from each. The best CVs should be 2 to 3 pages long.

HCPC registration

All locum Social Workers need to be registered with HCPC and you’ll need to show proof of HCPC registration when signing up with an agency. So, if you are a Newly Qualified Social Worker, make sure you get this done ASAP! If you have previously been registered but not sure if your registration is still valid, check the HCPC website; this is also where you can also apply for initial registration. Applications usually take 10 working days but this can sometimes be longer if further checks need to be carried out.  Once processed, the online register will be updated straight away and you’ll be sent a certificate and registration card in 2-3 weeks.


You will need to provide your agency with referee details for your last 3 years of employment or copies of references if you hold these.

A valid DBS

To work as a Locum Social Worker you will also need to hold a valid DBS check. Your agency will either check that your current DBS is on the update service, or a new application will be submitted by them if you don’t have one. The DBS update service allows applicants to keep their DBS certificate up to date and allows an employer to easily check the certificate. You need to register to use the update service and this costs £13 per year, payable by direct debit. You can either apply for the update service when your DBS is in application or you have up to 30 days from receipt of your DBS certificate being printed to apply. Further details regarding this can be found on the DBS website.

Compliance Documents

Your agency will need to see ID documents such as passport, driving licence, DBS certificate, proof of address (utility bills), proof of qualifications, HCPC registration and proof of National Insurance. Some agencies may also ask you to complete a short application form. This is all standard procedure to ensure you are compliant to work in the UK as a QSW.

Choose your employment status

There are 2 options; you can either register as a PAYE candidate or through an umbrella company. There are benefits for each route and you will need to decide which option is best for you. Your agency will be able to give you a list of umbrella companies they use or you can research and find your own umbrella. If you are a PAYE candidate, your agency will deal with your tax and NI contributions and you will also be entitled to receive holiday pay.

Your agency can now start arranging interviews for you!

When hiring locum Social Workers, managers usually move quickly as they need the locum to start almost immediately. When you agree to your agency sending your CV to specific vacancies, it is also a good idea to let them know your availability for interview for the week ahead; this saves time when trying to negotiate interview arrangements with the hiring manager. Don’t feel you have to interview for every role you are offered; if the location or the team are not going to be right for you it is best to decline the interview at this time rather than going for an interview and then declining further down the line.

A good agency will only submit your CV to roles that you have agreed to and for the teams that you have indicated you’d like to work in. Interview formats can vary by local authority and by team. Some teams might ask you to complete a written assessment before a formal interview and others might just want an informal chat. Your Recruitment Consultant should brief you on the format of the interview beforehand so you can prepare accordingly. Do not discuss pay rates at your interview as this will be negotiated between the hiring manager and your agency.

Following the interview

Due to the speed of Locum recruitment, you will usually get interview feedback quite quickly after your interview. This can sometimes be the same day. After being offered and accepting a role you will then be asked when you can start. Managers usually expect this to be within 1 to 2 weeks of being offered the role. If your notice period is over 2 weeks it is best to advise your consultant of this when your CV is being submitted for roles so that the hiring manager can make the decision whether they are happy to proceed.

Once you have accepted and a start date is agreed, your agency will send you an assignment confirmation. This will set out the details of the assignment.


So there you have it, your first steps to becoming a Locum Social Worker! If you need any further advice or would like to discuss current Social Work opportunities with Connect2Hampshire, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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