How to get your first job in the UKIf you’ve never worked or lived in the UK before, the idea of finding a job in one of the world’s most mature and competitive job markets can be daunting. Fortunately, the UK has a meritocratic and multicultural business culture, so if you’re good at what you do, and you approach the recruitment market intelligently, then finding and securing your dream job will be within your reach. Once you’ve made sure your personal branding is up to scratch, here are a few tips on what you need to get started on your UK job search, including information on what jobs are available and where to look to find job vacancies in the UK.


Live in the right places

The UK is the third biggest economy in Europe and in 2015 had an unemployment rate of 5.4%. According to figures from the Office for National Statistics, there was a 40% increase in employment levels among people from outside of the UK. Economic activity is focused on London and the south east, with unemployment considerably higher in the west and north, as well as Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In London, the job market is booming with more than 10 times as many advertised jobs as the next best area of the country but, of course, competition can be fierce and the city is notoriously expensive. If you want to earn anything above minimum wage (currently at £6.70 per hour), then you’ll almost certainly need fluent English and it is much easier to get a job if you don’t need a special visa or sponsorship from a company.


Be the right kind of professional

Some vocations are more in demand than others, so if you’re an engineer, in IT (analyst, coder, programmer, web designer), a scientist, medical practitioner, science teacher or international-level footballer, then you will probably find it relatively easy to get a job in the UK, as these occupations are all in demand.


Check your qualifications

You can identify how your qualifications compare to UK qualifications through UK NARIC. If you are a professional member of an association, or are certified in some way – eg as an accountant – contact the relevant professional body to see if your qualifications are formally recognised.


Have the right visa

Anyone from the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EU plus Liechtenstein, Iceland and Norway) or Switzerland can work in the UK no problem, as long as you have a valid passport or ID card. If you don’t have a passport from those countries, but are living with a partner or family who does, you can apply for a residence card. However, if that doesn’t apply to you, you’ll need a work permit, which an employer will need to apply for on your behalf. Students can work for up to 20 hours a week, as long as the position is not full-time or permanent.


Look in the right places – great websites


If you’re from the EU, EEA or Switzerland, you can look for a job in the UK through the EURES, a job portal network that is designed to aid free movement within the European Economic Area. As well as looking for work, you can upload your CV and find about the key legal and administrative matters involved in working in the UK.


Expatica’s UK job pages have an excellent selection of jobs throughout the UK in a range of different sectors.


There are hundreds of UK job portals; here are the market leaders.










Specialist websites include:


Careworx – care workers, social workers, nursing and managers

Caterer – hospitality, restaurants, hotels, pubs, bars and catering

Charityjobs – charities

CWJobs – IT

Design Week – design, branding, copywriting, artworking, exhibitions, graphics, interiors, furniture and packaging

Hays – management and professional level jobs

Justengineers – engineering

Madjobs – marketing and advertising

Mandy – TV and film

NHSjobs – jobs in all sectors of the National Health Service throughout the UK, from medics and nurses, through administration to cleaning and services

Prospects – graduates

Splashfind – top 100 UK specialist jobsites



More places to look

Recruitment agencies can be useful if you’re an ‘in demand’ type of professional, but otherwise, they simply make your job application more expensive for an employer to say ‘yes’ to, because they come with a large fee attached. Focus your attention on direct approaches to organisations that look relevant. Look on LinkedIn for jobs where the employer are advertising directly to candidates. Make sure, of course, that your profile is as good as it can be, and if in doubt, get help from a professional CV and LinkedIn writing company. LinkedIn is a powerhouse for recruitment networking; turn yourself into a professional-level networker by maxing out your profile completion percentage, joining as many groups as possible and using it to kick-start a wider networking effort, including going to events and joining forums.


Once you’ve found the right job to apply for, you need to prepare your application, so you’ll also need to know what to expect in a British job interview, and what to do – and what to avoid – during the interview. Do as much preparation as possible and consider investing in professional interview training to make sure you give yourself the best possible chance of landing that first offer of a job.

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