One of the most common questions that I get asked from those thinking about moving to London is “How hard is it to find a job?”.
I also find this to be one of the toughest questions to answer as it really does vary for every single person. Depending on what you do for a living, what you want to do when you move to London, which industry you’re in, how many years experience you have, what visa you’re on, everyone will have a different experience when it comes to finding a job on arrival.
I’m collating my top London job hunting tips to help appease some of your concerns and hopefully to help you nail that dream job as quickly as possible!
So what can you do to give yourself the best possible chance of getting a job in London?
Research as much as you can before you arrive
If you know what industry you want to move into, research as much as you can before you arrive! Any additional knowledge that you can equip yourself with will only work in your favour when it comes to the interview processed. It’s also important to understand exactly how your job role can vary in London – what could be considered an analyst in Australia could be something totally different in London (that’s just an example, I think they’re about the same so it’s probably not the best example!).
A lot of heavily regulated industries such as health, medical, law and finance could require that you have certain certifications and qualifications to hold the same position in the U.K. Make sure you research this before you go to put yourself in the best position to find the most suitable role when you arrive.
Look for jobs in the right places
I have written a separate post on the best places to look for a job in London – you can check it out here
Find an awesome recruiter
Recruiters can be really helpful for several reasons
- When you’re interviewing, they’re on your side and will do what they can to sway the employers in your direction (hey, they get a nice profit if you’re hired, why wouldn’t they fight for you?!)
- They have access to more exclusive roles than general public job boards do
- They save you time in the long-run as you don’t have to write cover letters and change your resume for every single job that you want to apply for
- They’re free. Recruiters earn their commissions from employers which makes them free for us to make the most of
Using a recruiter to help you find a job in London isn’t always optional. Due to the sheer amount of people living and working in London, many employers don’t bother posting job ads online, they go straight to recruitment agencies to save themselves the time.
The industry that you’re working in will impact what recruitment agencies you need to approach, as each agency tends to specialise in one field. E.g. You would go directly to a Law Recruitment Specialist if you’re looking for solicitor jobs in London. If you find that a lot of the positions that are of interest to you are posted by the same recruitment agents, that’s a sure sign to get in touch with them and introduce yourself.
I always find I get a better response rate when I find the email of one particular recruiter at an agency, rather than just emailing their general enquiry email. One step better is if you can get an introduction from someone who has used the recruiter before – you’re almost guaranteed a response that way.
Some recruiters are very formal and conduct full job interviews whilst others are much more relaxed and simply take you out for a coffee and a chat. It can be hard to judge which one you’ll be getting, so try and get as many details over the phone as you can and it’s always better to over-prepare for a recruiter interview than underprepared (I’ve done both, trust me).
Prepare for your interview, then prepare again
There’s nothing worse than getting caught off guard in a job interview, then blubbering your way through a tough question by umm-ing and ahh-ing for 5 minutes only to end back where you started.
You can never predict what questions you’re going to get asked but you can practice as many as you can and have a general idea of what direction you want to take your answers in.
- Ask your recruiter to send you an Interview Preparation pack with some sample questions. If you don’t have a recruiter, have a look online to find something similar for your field of work
- Practice answering questions out loud, or better yet, ask a friend to interview you
- Have some questions ready to ask the employer at the end of the interview
- Be prepared to answer personal questions about yourself and don’t be afraid to stand out, it’s how they’ll remember you. What are your hobbies? Why did you move to London? What are you most passionate about?
Mind the Dress Code
My general rule is that I always dress for the job that I want, no matter who the interview is with. The interview process is as much for you to assess if the role is right for you, as it is for the employer. In saying that, when you need a job – you need a job, so be mindful to dress appropriately if you want to make a good first impression. Here are a few basic dress code rules for London job interviews.
The majority of corporate and Blue Chip companies will expect a smart/professional approach such as a suit or similar. Media and Entertainment can be more casual so opt for trousers or jeans, a nice top and shoes (chelsea ankle boots are always a safe bet). Each company has its own expectations and your recruiter will advise you on each individual interview but it’s always best not to make assumptions and be too smart versus not smart enough.
- Arrive to the office 5-10 minutes early and plan your journey ahead of time to ensure you have at least 20 minutes to spare – CityMapper App or http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ are both good for planning your journey
- Engage in a little small talk before the interview – chat about the weather, the offices, the location. Always stay positive and avoid whinging, first impressions can be crucial
- Work your biggest achievements into conversations even if the interviewer doesn’t directly ask. Drop in some career highlights and be ready to impress!
- Pre-prepare some interesting questions to ask at the end of the interview. You’ll always be asked if you have any questions before you go and it looks better to be engaged and have something to say, rather than seem indifferent with nothing at all
- Take a bottle of water – you’ll be doing a lot of talking and don’t want to start choking on a dry throat half-way through answering a key question
Now it’s time to go out there and get your dream job!!
What has your experience of finding a job in London been like? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments