HOW TO FIND A JOB IN LONDON
Long gone are the days when finding a suitable occupation in London was fast and easy. Nowadays, the process of building a career in London is much tougher due to the highly-competitive nature of the capital, assaulted by professionals of all ages and from every part of the world: If you are ambitious, London is the place to be.
In London there are loads of people, and most of them are here for the same reason as you: work. The possibility that there is someone better than you competing for the same role for which you are applying is not remote. So, in order to find a job quickly, not only do you need to be prepared, but you also need the luck to be in the right place at the right time and facing the right person.
The main issue is that time is very expensive in London. Due to sky-rocketing rents and expensive transport, very few people can afford the luxury of living in London without any income while waiting for the right opportunity to come along. On the other hand, no one can guarantee you’ll find a gap job quickly.
If you land in the UK without a job and without someone to host you, it may be wise to choose to live in a nearby town, one of the so-called commuter towns; head east: it’s cheaper.
WHERE TO STAY WHILE LOOKING FOR A JOB IN LONDON
If you don’t have any income or your income is limited, you could head east, simply because it’s cheaper to live there. You can always move closer to your job location once you find a suitable position. Here are some ideas for you:
In Hastings, house rents are cheap. You can find reasonably priced rooms, some even starting from less than £70 a week. It is claimed to be the cheapest commuting town to London. However, for someone working in central London, living in Hastings may mean you’ll spend three hours on a train every day, plus around 30 minutes on the Tube getting to and from your workplace. This may not be much of a brilliant idea in the long run if you want a life, but it’s indeed a nice place where you can start your job search without spending a fortune. You can jump on a train whenever the opportunity of a job interview in London comes up.
East London: Bexley, Havering, Barking & Dagenham
If you fancy living closer to the Big Smoke, you can look for some shared accommodation in the London Borough of Bexley. The rent is higher but not exorbitant (for London standards), travel costs to central London are presently around £2,188 a year, and the average commute into central London is fairly quick at 36 minutes each way. For London, this is surely a great deal, and you may even be able to afford your own place if you earn at least 30K a year. You may also want to look at areas like Havering, Barking & Dagenham. They offer reasonable commutes and decent rents (again, for London standards).
CV AND COVER LETTER FOR THE UK JOB MARKET
Image copyeight: Flazingo Photos
In London, the job market is extremely selective and recruiters focus on specific knowledge and specializations. As a general rule, the more your profile is in line with the job description, the more likely it will be for you to be contacted for an interview.
Your resume must immediately give the impression that you can do the job. This means your CV should be surgical, perfectly modelled for the position for which you are applying, and without frills or misleading details.
Here are some tips for your CV:
If you are European, forget the Europass CV. Make sure your CV is built upon the British standard. If you don’t use the right format, your CV will likely go straight in the bin.
- Take particular care over the cover letter. Personalize it to reflect the position for which you are applying.
- Both the CV and cover letter must contain the keywords which identify the job for which you are applying. In fact, in order to cope with the huge quantity of CVs received for one single vacancy, the first stage of the selection process is usually done by software which scans the text through semantic analysis.
- Invest a little money in your future and use a professional agency which is expert in CV-making, to construct or review your CV and cover letter. Professionals in the field know exactly what recruiters are looking for, so utilizing one is advisable, especially at the very start, to increase your chances of success. This could help you to leave out mistakes which may compromise your ability to obtain an interview for a particular role. I personally advise using top professional agencies specialised in CV making. Their experts usually offer different kinds of personalized CV services according to your needs.
FACE-TO-FACE CUSTOMER SERVICE JOBS
If you wish to apply for a vacancy in a shop or in a restaurant, you can fill in an online application form or hand in your CV directly to the venue. Here are the three golden rules if you want to introduce yourself in person:
- When entering the shop or the venue, take particular care of your appearance/dress code: leave those ripped trousers at home, no showy make-up, no chewing gum in your mouth even for the most informal roles.
- The level of your English must be of a decent standard. Customer-facing roles require a good standard of English.
- Avoid turning up during busy periods. You will be unlikely to grab someone’s attention and your CV may be overlooked
- Ask for the manager. Don’t simply hand over your CV to the first person you meet.
If your aim is to work in an office, you should consult Linkedin and other similar websites. Some websites are more generic, while others are specialized in a particular profession.
It is also best practice to target the companies where you would be interested in working. Check their websites and Linkedin space under the recruitment section. It is in your best interest to keep your Linkedin profile updated and in line with what you are looking for. If possible, ensure it is populated with references from ex-bosses and colleagues. This will increase your chances of being noticed by potential recruiters.
If possible, embellish your CV with certifications. They always tend to make an impression and give you an edge over other candidates. For instance, if your wish is to work in the digital marketing world, you may want to look into the live training offered by Simplelearn or Shaw Academy.
Recruitment agencies are often paid on commission. This means that it is in their interest to find the perfect candidate. They will not lose their time with you if they don’t think you’ll be a good investment for them. This is another reason why sending a well written CV and cover letter is imperative if you want to make a good first impression.
JOB INTERVIEWS IN LONDON AND THE UK
Recruiters frequently test your skills before going on with the selection process. These tests may be required both by agencies and companies and vary according to the job for which you are applying.
During the recruitment for a marketing executive position, you may be asked to create a strategy for a product launch. If you are applying for a multilingual role, you may be tested on the knowledge of a particular language, both orally and in writing. For administrative jobs, many recruiters require you to complete Microsoft Office tests under a certain time restriction. In most cases, you may be admitted to the next selection stage only if you were 80% successful. Be prepared. If you fail once, it is unlikely that you will be considered a second time by the same agency.
A helpful tip is to brush up your skills with some online courses which you can complete in your own time. Currently, Simplilearn offers 400+ professional certification courses at very reasonable rates. Take a look at their comprehensive Microsoft Office courses which they offer at a very competitive, discounted rate:
Tests usually take place during the first round of interviews with the agency and/or company. Interviews will usually include competency-based questions where you will be asked to provide precise examples of situations in which you had to face certain problems and how you solved them. Sometimes agencies provide a list of possible questions you may be asked, and it is good practice to prepare at least one or two replies for each.
At the end of the interview, you’ll be expected to pose some questions and they should reflect your knowledge of the company and your keen interest in working for them.
Being summoned for a second interview at the company means you usually have a one-in-three chance of succeeding.
Last but not least, be careful of what you say during interviews, even during casual and relaxed exchanges. Even the most informal recruiter is there to find the perfect candidate. Something you say which may be perceived in a negative way or give the interviewer the impression you don’t fit into the company’s culture may make the difference between you and another candidate.
If one week after an interview has passed and you haven’t heard back, it’s reasonable to ask for feedback. Sometimes, it may take much longer to decide, but it may be useful to know if you made it to the first stage of the process. Mind you, the British are renowned for their politeness. When recruiters contact you for an interview, they will always tend to make you feel unique and special. For those who aren’t used to this attitude, it may prove to be disorienting if they don’t call you back with good news. You may have the impression everything went well when it’s not the case.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR WHEN LOOKING FOR A JOB
- Never pay to get a job. It is illegal and agencies requiring any kind of payment are trying to scam you. Scams are organized by unethical people and organizations trying to make money out of inexperienced people, especially expats. The number of scams has increased in recent years, so be careful to never pay a penny.
- Never accept a job without signing a work contract. This is illegal, too. It sometimes happens for unskilled positions in restaurants or bars.
- In some industries like the creative or catering ones, some firms, usually small ones, may ask you to accept an unpaid job as a trial in order to test your skills. They usually require this for you and all the other candidates. This way they are able to get free services for months. Avoid being exploited.
- Beware of job ads which are published too frequently. It usually means there’s a high turnaround rate. If in doubt and you know the name of the company, check if there are any employee reviews on Glassdoors. Present and former employees usually leave reviews, both good and bad.
Finally, when it’s not just a gap job you are looking for, remember that getting a job is always a reason to celebrate!
But before you accept, make sure the job is in an environment where you’ll thrive.
You don’t want to be looking for another job in 6 months.