Job Hunting in the United Kingdom
The UK offers a great variety of opportunities to any American looking for a new career adventure, with a number of different cities offering the chance to build a life thanks to thriving industries.
Once you have managed to gain the right to work in the UK you have crossed the most substantial hurdle that’s in your path – the world (or at the very least, the British Isles) is now your oyster as you seek the perfect job that makes you relocation worthwhile.
Getting a work visa
We’ll be blunt – it’s not easy to obtain the right to work in the UK as an American citizen (unless you somehow qualify for dual citizenship or some kind of ancestral passport – dig deep and look hard for something of this ilk!)
In most cases, your potential British employer will need to sponsor you to work in the country – expect to be tied into a contract of at least two years once you find a job in the UK, and expected to repay any fees incurred by your employer if you decide to break this contract early.
You’ll also have to prove that you are worth all of the paperwork that will be incurred to bring you into Britain as an employee, as your employer will need to jump through several hopes with the government and explain why they are not bringing in a nationalized citizen.
Jobs in the UK
London is the financial capital of Europe, so if you ply your trade in the realm of big business you will find all kinds of opportunities to work in the UK. Information Technology is also on the up throughout the nation, ensuring that transferrable skills will be welcomed from a variety of different employers, while the Oil and Gas industries have started to increase in prevalence and look likely to continue doing so for some time.
If you have a science of medical background you will more than likely be welcomed with open arms – R&D, medical communications, psychology and surgery are all fields that the UK has been forced to seek international assistance in over recent years.
Casual and seasonal work
There is a substantial rural presence in the UK, and while these territories tend not to offer many high-powered executive opportunities they are never short of seasonal jobs during the summer. If you are in the UK on an unrestricted Visa that means you can count on casual or seasonal work look around farms and other agricultural sites that may be looking for short-term assistance.
The same also goes for pubs, who may be able to offer casual work on a zero-hours contract. This means that you may not have a consistent shift pattern for any given day or week, but will be expected to be on stand-by and prepared to come into work if you are requested.
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Best Cities for finding work
This is a tricky one to answer, as the cost of living must be taken into consideration against employment opportunities. London, for example, has an enviable number of vacancies in all kinds of different industries – but it’s also extremely expensive to find a property!
Cambridge, Milton Keynes, Nottingham, Leeds and Peterborough make up the top five cities to live and work according to a recent study, but don’t neglect the idea of the major cities.
Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Birmingham, Manchester and Bristol will all have plenty of vacancies that are worth looking into, and if an employer is bringing you into the UK at their own expense and behest it’s probably safe to say that you will be on a substantial wage that will cover the cost of a quality apartment.
Tips for job hunting in the UK
Presenting your CV/resume
Keep your CV down to two pages, and don’t feel the need to include too much personal information. Your date of birth, for example, should not feature on your CV due to laws against age discrimination, and there is no need to include a photo.
When discussing your work history, stay relevant without stretching the truth about your achievements – but don’t be shy about discussing how you have exceeded targets in the past. There will be a great deal of competition for any role advertised in the UK, and this is your first chance to sell yourself.
You’ll find all kinds of American expats making new lives all over the UK – it’s a country that’s very welcoming of visitors from the USA. As a reaction to this, websites such as UK Yankee have sprung up all over the web, connecting people and offering adaptation tips.
Make sure that your LinkedIn profile is up to date and accurate, as this is the first place that any British employer will look for you. However, you should also be careful about your social media presence – employers will look at your Facebook and Twitter profiles, so ensure there is nothing that will deter them at an easy glance!
A job interview in the UK can be a slightly surreal experience for an American citizen, as they tend to move significantly faster than you may be used to – though the decision making process is often slower.
You’ll largely be expected to attend two or more appointments of around an hour each, meeting different people and fielding a different range of questions on each occasion. The chances are high that you’ll also be expected to perform some kind of presentation at a second interview. The other key thing to know is that you should always have some questions for your interviewer lined up for the end of the meeting – failing to do so gives the impression that you have not engaged with the conversation.
Finally, don’t expect to hired on the spot at the end of the meeting – there is a lot of red tape involved in the recruitment process in the UK (partly because your rights as an employee will be firmly protected!), so don’t lose heart if an offer takes a few days to come through – people will be hard at work behind the scenes.
Useful websites and job portals
Like the rest of the world, businesses in the UK advertise the majority of their vacancies online. Be aware, however, that you may well be dealing with a recruitment agency in the first instance as a great many companies utilize such services. Check out these websites in the first instance.