The anticipation behind finding a job in London can be very stressful, both before your departure and after your arrival, so here are some tips on how it works and the best places to start looking.
Let me start by saying that the London job market is HUGE. London is at the centre of the majority of big industries such as finance, law, advertising, marketing, media, fashion, arts and theatre, the list goes on. Not only are the industries huge, the opportunity to work on a much larger scale than what you’re used to is very exciting, and London work experience can definitely benefit your career if you’re motivated and ready to work hard.
I came to London under the common Australian misconception that the British don’t know what hard work means. Now maybe this was once true (or so I’ve been told), but if it ever was, there’s no remnants of this attitude to be found in London. Perhaps it’s a post-GFC trend, but everyone I know who works full time works very hard, in many cases much harder than their Australian counterparts. I don’t look at this as a negative though – people are passionate about their jobs. They may work hard, but they also play hard, and keeping the work/life/play balance is still relatively easy with the amount of annual leave you get from work and the social atmosphere. London is a very social city and pub drinks are generally well underway by Wednesday lunch time (Tuesdays in summer), carrying through until Sunday evenings. You get Monday night off 😉
Step 1 – Get a NI Number
When you land in London, call JobCentre Plus and apply for a NIN (National Insurance Number). You will need to go in for an ‘interview’ or fill in some paperwork, which just requires you to bring prove that you’re eligible to work in the UK.
The NIN is similar to the Australian TFN, or the American Social Security number. You need one to legally work in the UK and 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/paperwork is received), then any money you earn will be taxed at a very high rate.
Step 2 – Find a Recruiter
Now it’s time to 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, and then keep in regular contact with those agents each week, even if it’s just a quick hello or wishing them a nice weekend.
Step 3 – Start the Search!
Third and final thing to do is to start looking for a job! Depending what industry you’re in, there are different job search sites available for different professions. I have categorised some of the best sites for job hunting in London, based on what type of job you may be after below:
General Job Search
These pages are the biggest for finding a job in London, similar to Australia’s seek.com website. You can find most professions here, and these pages are especially good for admin, finance, banking, IT, sales, education and temp roles:
- Brand Republic
- Twitter – Create a professional account and follow anyone you would want to work for. Many job ads come up directly from companies, before they reach out to recruitment agencies and the like. Twitter pages such as @LDNStudentJobs are also useful
Straight out of Uni
If you’re coming with little to no experience or straight out of uni, it’s a tough market, especially around graduation time. Internships are very common and popular in London, though unfortunately the majority of them are unpaid (although they normally cover your travel expenses as a base), but don’t let this dishearten you. There’s still plenty out there!
Try these sites:
Casual Jobs (retail, hospitality, events)
If like many Australians you’re more interested in travel and less keen on being tied down by full-time work, casual roles in hospitality or retail could be the way to go. It’s very common to see cafes and shops around London with signs up in their front windows advertising for staff, so keep your eyes peeled.
You should also try these sites:
If all else fails, spend your last £500 on a billboard, it worked a treat for this guy