Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Getting a job in London or the UK
At the request of David who left a comment on my 'Work Differences' post and Alana who left a comment on my 'Reason Number 37...' (and after realizing that I've never actually done a post about finding a job in London/the UK...), I thought I'd try to do so now. Ironically, though I have a job here-and have successfully found jobs once on the ground here, trying to sum up to others what to do is proving a challenge. But, at the heart of it are 2-3 big ticket items worth mentioning (that, especially compared with finding a job in the US are rather different):
1. It's not what you know, it's who you know. This seems to be even more true in London (and the UK and even wider EU) than I've ever experienced. Aside from my first role here in London in which I transferred with my company from the US, I've found my subsequent jobs thru people I know. So: If you aren't on LinkedIn, get yourself on with a good profile *yesterday.* I cannot stress this enough. I've lost count of the number of times I've met someone in a professional setting-however brief the encounter-only to have a LinkedIn invite waiting for me in my inbox before the end of the day.
LinkedIn. Do it.
2. It's not who you know, it's who knows you. On the flip side of the above, for better or for worse, recruiters/head hunters are incredibly active in placement for many-if not most-companies in London/the UK. I don't know of any company who doesn't work with a recruiting agency aside from my current employer. One simple search on Google easily confirms this space: type "London BLAH recruiter/recruitment" where BLAH is your profession, and you'll instantly see the full list of results of companies that operate in this space. Check 'em out, and contact the ones that have a job you're interested in.
On a related note about LinkedIn, you will also likely find that with a full profile, recruiters won't be shy about reaching out to you either! Mind you, my professional space is probably a bit more 'active' on LinkedIn than others, but I easily average ~2-3 connection requests/direct emails a week from recruiters. I almost took a job via the recruiter route (opted instead for my current employer), so it is indeed a legitimate route-though at times, it can feel simply like a 'necessary evil.'
3. Make sure you can um, actually *work* in the UK. Sorry to have to state the obvious, but it does bear mention: make sure you're speaking with companies that actually have the ability to hire a non EU/UK citizen and have to have a work visa. There are numerous types of visas, but for most people reading this blog, a Tier 1 or Tier 2 are the likely options. A Tier 2 visa requires 'company sponsorship'-ie you can work in the UK as long as you are employed by your sponsoring company. A Tier 1 visa effectively functions as 'self sponsoring' (though an employer can help you to receive this visa as well). The difference/benefit of having a Tier 1 visa is you are now free to come/go to any employer you wish to-much like a EU/UK citizen.
To qualify for a Tier 1, you have to have a certain number of 'points.' On the points based system, you'll have to prove things like....financial stability (bank records, as well as salary of your current job), English proficiency (a pass if you're American/Canadian/etc), education (Bachelors is good, Masters is great), and a few other bits. If I recall, the Masters degree, and making over £40k (I think?...) were the two biggest boosts to get the points you need.
A note of caution: The rules for visas in the UK change numerous times during the year, so it would behoove you to do your homework first on this topic to even understand whether or not getting a job is even an option!
A note of caution #2: It can take some time to get your visa. So, whether you work with an employer/legal firm or DIY, you should allow for a good 6-8 weeks, if not longer-and plan accordingly.
OK. Short of going on forever, those are probably the three big things*I* think are most important regarding this topic. I am *by no means* an expert on this-and would love to have input from others. What are your top tips for finding a job in the UK?