Job Hunting in London
To put it simply, the London job market is huge. London is at the center of the majority of big industries such as finance, advertising, marketing, media, fashion, arts, theater, the list goes on.
Not only are the industries huge, there are endless opportunities to work on an international scale and London work experience can definitely boost your career if you’re motivated and ready to work hard for it.
Much of the world seems to have a common misconception that the British don’t know what hard work means. Now maybe this was once true but if it ever was, there are no remnants of this attitude to be found here. Finding a job can be tough if you don’t know where to look and competition is high.
Londoners may work hard, but they also play hard and keeping the work/life/play balance is still relatively easy with 20-25 annual leave days per annum being the norm. It is also common for offices to end up in the pub after work, especially on Thursdays.
If you’ve just moved to London and are looking to find work, here are 6 steps you need to take to secure yourself a position in the London job market…
1. Get a National Insurance Number (NIN)
When you first land in London, call JobCenter Plus and apply for a NIN (National Insurance Number). The NIN is similar to the Australian TFN or the American Social Security number.
You need one to legally work in the UK. If you’ve applied but don’t get this number before your first pay day (it can take around 2 weeks to process after your interview), then any money you earn will be taxed at a very high rate.
If you’re an EU resident, you will need to go in for an ‘interview’, which just requires you to bring proof that you’re eligible to work in the UK. If you don’t have an EU passport, you have to ring JobCentre Plus and request that they send you the paperwork.
2. Prepare your CV
Once your NIN application is out of the way, you can focus on your resume. If possible, you should aim to make sure your CV (resume) – both written and LinkedIn profile – is up to scratch before you even arrive in London, so that it’s ready to send out to prospective employers as soon as you land.
Some key CV tips for the London job market:
- Always include your contact information (Name, email, phone number), and education details including any relevant training or qualifications.
- Add a summary of your previous work experience.
- Multilingual? Mention any languages you may speak (other than English).
- If you’re coming from abroad then don’t forget to specify that you’re eligible to work in the UK.
- Keep it short and simple – no longer than 2 x A4 pages long.
- Never include a photo, your D.O.B, religion, or marital status.
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3. Find yourself a recruitment agent
The London job market is mostly owned by recruitment agencies. Due to the sheer number of people living and working in London, companies save a lot of time by outsourcing their job-hunting to agencies, so much so that you are unlikely to find a job without one.
So get online, find some good agencies, send your email and CV around and when one responds, push to meet them right away and get on their good side! It’s very competitive out there, so the more effort you put in, the better.
If you intend on freelancing, you will definitely need a recruitment agent. Do some research into your industry and narrow down the recruitment agencies that you want to work with based on what type of clients you wish to work for.
Then, keep in regular contact with those agents each week, even if it’s just a quick hello or wishing them a nice weekend.
4. Start sending your CV!
It can take 1-2 weeks for recruitment agencies and companies to respond to your applications, so the faster you start sending your CV out, the better.
If you have applied for a position and haven’t heard back, don’t be afraid to follow it up with a phone call. It shows great initiative and is a great way to build good rapport with recruitment agents.
5. Interview Prep
If you land an interview for a job application, congratulations! You have made it past the very tough stage of getting yourself noticed – this can often be one of the hardest parts of finding a job in London, so pat yourself on the back and get ready to really impress!
The more research you can do on the company that you’re interviewing for, the better. Stalk them online; learn about their history, what their offerings are, what they do and how they do it. The more you learn, the better equipped you will be to structure your answers in the most favorable way come interview time, and the more you can impress your interviewer with your company knowledge.
Get online and find out what the most popular interview questions are for your industry, then practice your answers! Many employers use the same questions – does ‘What’s your biggest weakness?’ ring any bells? Even if you don’t get asked any of these questions, the practice will help you to build confidence and you’ll feel much more prepared going into the interview.
Always arrive to the interview 5 minutes early. If you arrive too early, it can cause more of an annoyance than coming on time; it goes without saying that you should never, ever, be late. If something goes horribly wrong and you will be running even a few minutes late, always notify the person via phone or email.
Dress the part
It’s always better to overdress than underdress. Each industry is different and so is each company, but you should already have an idea of what type of dress code is acceptable for your industry – go with your instincts and when in doubt, keep it professional
Keep an eye out on what everyone else is wearing when you arrive so that if you return for a second interview, you’ll be better equipped to dress appropriately.
Break the ice
Last but not least, don’t forget the all-important British small talk. When you first meet your interviewer, it’s commonplace in the UK to start with a little small talk to break the ice. If this isn’t your strong point, just chat about the weather. Londoners can talk about the weather for hours! Keep it simple, friendly and positive.
Now that you have all the tools for your job hunt in London, why not take a look at our guide to renting in London.