Ontario has a publicly funded healthcare system with an annual budget of more than $50 billion per year!
Personal Support Workers are the front line workers in the health care field.
They effectively serve as the backbone of health care system in Ontario providing critical safe-patient care to those who are in need.
This profession features the largest scope and highest percentage of employment opportunities among similar professions.
It is true however that most PSW jobs offered are either casual or part-time and very rarely full-time.
This can partially be attributed to the fact that many health care organizations have yet to recognise the value that PSW’s bring to the interdisciplinary team.
Recognising the true potential of PSWs can drastically change the PSW job prospects in future.
You see, with an ageing population, the need for quality health care professionals has increased significantly.
Ontario Governments have consequently been tasked with the responsibility of developing policies geared towards improving their often times financially strained health care system.
One way to provide better care in home and in facilities is by, hiring more PSWs.
And this could very well mean that PSW’s will start to get utilized more and more.
Now you may be thinking:
“I have the PSW diploma, have a good resume, I make sure to send a customized cover letter with each application, have applied to each and every place I know that hire PSWs, but I still can not find a job”.
Well, you may be missing a very important ingredient that leads to a PSW job that you righteously deserve.
And that is exactly what you’ll learn in this article!
THIS ARTICLE WILL DISCUSS
- Definitive shift away from traditional hiring practices, and
- Subsequent role that connections now play in enabling PSWs to successfully secure a position.
YOU WILL ALSO LEARN
- How to establish connections as a student in College and after getting your diploma, and
- The extent to which having an “in” which effectively enables PSWs to obtain positions
OPTIMIZE YOUR CHANCES OF GETTING HIRED
Establishing useful and valuable connections prior to enrolling in a college has become more and more prevalent.
“You shouldn’t network because you’re desperate — you should network all the time. You should always be making contacts and have a Rolodex or computer program that lets you file these people away” – Larry James
Essentially, making a concerted effort to lay the groundwork of developing beneficial connections can take place as soon as you decide to embark on the journey to become a Personal Support Worker.
HOW CAN YOU DO THIS?
Once you have decided to become a PSW and chosen a college, start your preliminary research right away.
Go to the college (the one you will be attending) website and look for who is in the position to assist you in your ultimate goal of becoming a PSW.
This could be your teacher, someone in the career centre or your PSW program co-ordinator.
Commonly used social media and networking sites such as Facebook and LinkdIn in addition to PSW associations such as Ontario Personal Support Worker Association OPAWA) and Personal Support Network of Ontario (PSNO), will not only allow you to learn the vagaries of the field but can ultimately result in establishing connections that will be helpful post-graduation.
RECOGNIZE VOLUNTEERING OPPORTUNITIES
There are substantial amount of volunteering opportunities that are inherent in health care.
As a result, networking is easier than in other fields that are more commonly associated with it (i.e business and industry).
Many PSWs currently working assert that being able to work in a target-rich environment as volunteers both prior to and during school proved to be useful after they had completed their studies.
Working as a volunteer will enable you to interact with individuals working in influential positions.
This can work in your favour when it’s time to apply for the job.
HOW CAN YOU DO THIS?
Make a list of hospitals, nursing homes, hospice care homes, long-term care homes and any other place that you think hire PSWs in your area.
You can find out which organizations hire PSWs on our jobs page.
Just enter your postal code and press search.
Once you have the list, pick at least three places where you would like to work as a PSW.
Once you have the top three places sorted out, see if they hire volunteers.
If they do, apply to become a volunteer with all three.
Once you get accepted to work as a volunteer, make the best of it.
If you do not hear anything from them, rinse and repeat the same process until you get a position.
Remember to start this process as early as possible.
Often times there is a waiting list of people wanting to volunteer at a certain place, especially in hospitals.
IT’S ALL ABOUT WHO YOU KNOW
Once the college has started, make most of your time there.
College time is thought to be the ideal time period for building connections and strengthening ones that had previously been established.
” Experts agree that networking is not last-minute effort, relationships take time to cultivate. Even if they already have a job or are committing to school full-time, students should still look for new contacts with people in their field.” – Larry James
Faculty members, managers working in hospitals that one intends to apply to and administrators in organizations geared towards providing information and support for those in the field such as OPSWA and PSNO can assist you in your job search.
According to Alicia Pierre, a nurse and blogger who authored Networking Is the Best Way to Find a Nursing Job:
“Networking is about connecting with people and building a strong ‘base’ or ‘network’. If you are like most nurses, the idea of nursing probably doesn’t sound appealing. I used to feel the same way. This is probably because your concept of networking is flawed. Networking is one of the most successful ways to find a nursing job.”
And this theory is equally relevant for Personal Support Workers.
All the connections you’ve established by networking will play a pivotal role in getting you hired.
Here’s a very detailed article on networking strategies for PSWs.
Personal Support is inherently an easier field to develop networks.
It is largely due to students being required to complete clinicals to meet the requirements of their program.
Clinicals are intensive, hands-on PSW training geared towards enabling prospective PSWs to learn practical skills and gain the on-site experience needed to embark on their careers.
Many PSWs who are currently working in hospitals assert that their clinicals provided them with the “in” that they needed when seeking a position after graduating.
Recent graduates confirm that they have used the connections that they made during their clinicals after graduation by contacting employees on the floor/unit they had worked on.
“It’s not what you know, it’s who you know” has become an irrefutable reality with respect to the field.
Louise P, an RPN employed at a chronic care facility in Ottawa for over 20 years confirms:
“I’ve seen people get jobs solely through their contacts. If someone is friends with one of the higher-ups, they can get a job even if they aren’t qualified for it. They even get chosen over other candidates who actually do have the education and training it requires. It has become more and more blatant lately too.”
Clearly, obtaining a position as a Personal Support Worker has become increasingly dependant on having the advantage of knowing someone who has the ability to either help you or introduce you to someone who can.
It is evident that the information pertaining to job connections culled both prior to and during studies can be beneficial once you are attempting to enter the workforce.
While you may be having a hard time finding a job, it may be because you have not hit the right cord yet.
Connections definitely matter by playing a clandestine yet often times essential role in many current and future PSWs search for work opportunities.
Before, during and after attending college, you can and should take advantage of the networking and connection-building options that are inherent in the field.
While attending college, volunteering positions and clinicals are unique characteristics of the health care industry.
Building strong and valuable connections during these three phases will definitely go a long way in helping you achieve the job search objective.
Future and current Personal Support Workers in Ontario are faced with the inescapable reality that ultimately, even in the PSW field, having friends in “high places” makes all the difference.