The worldwide economy has taken a battering recently and it has affected people who are looking for work or who are already working in London. However, this certainly doesn’t mean that finding work is impossible and it definitely shouldnt put you off moving to London as the economy in other areas of the country (or countries overseas) have in many cases been affected much worse than the economy in London.
So, the key to finding work in London is to be as pro-active as is humanly possible. You need to start looking for work asap. Don’t put it off. Even if you’re in the middle of your final year at uni, it wouldn’t hurt to start putting an action plan together.
If you’re a working traveller, then you’ll need a National Insurance number to work in the UK. We’d recommend considering the excellent Kickstart package which will help you avoid paying emergency tax. It also offers C.V and job assistance.
For all of you heading to London for work, the very first thing that you should do before following the rest of the advice on this page, is to upload your C.V to Career and Jobs UK. It’s absolutely FREE and is very simple to do. Thousands of employers have access to your profile and C.V and it’s an essential step to take when looking for work in London. You could also make use of the free 1st Contact Job Assistance service, so that you can get your CV in front of the right recruitment agencies before you arrive in London.
Networking – Think about everyone you know that might be able to put in a good word for you with their own relevant business contacts. Speak to your teachers, college tutors, friends of the family, old bosses, contacts through clubs/societies that you were involved in and most importantly, people who know you are already working in the industry that you’re interested in. Call them up, write them an email or meet for a coffee and explain that you’re looking for work and ask them for advice or to put in a good word for you with their networking contacts. It may not seem fair, but you’ll be amazed by how many people secure a position of employment through a friend-of-a-friend.
Attitude – don’t be defeatist and say ‘no-one is hiring at the moment, so there’s no point in looking’. That’s an absolute cop-out and is a guaranteed way to find yourself sat on the sofa, in your dressing gown, still playing video games in 6 months time. Instead, take control of your job-hunting and make sure that you manage your time well. Whilst you’re not working it’s so important to remain mentally active. Use being ‘off work’ as an advantage over people in full-time employment and learn some new skills. You could brush up on some specialist IT software packages that are relevant to your chosen profession, or alternatively you could take a distance-learning course . It will impress interviewers if they can see that you’ve used your time out of work to improve your skills.
Find your unique selling point – with so many people competing for the same job at the moment, you have got to stand out from the crowd. Usually, the first impression of you that a potential employer gets, is the one from your C.V. It almost seems slightly ridiculous to stress the important of having a good C.V and yet so many are sent out to recruitment agencies and employers, which are littered with spelling mistakes, grammatical errors and downright lies. There are loads of top tips that you could read about through books such as ‘How to Prepare your Curriculum Vitae’ , but in this market it’s more than beneficial to be one step ahead of your competition by visiting a C.V workshop. The one offered by the CV House is absolutely invaluable. The workshop is divided into a pre-workshop (use a template to put together basic details about your education/employment history), followed by a 3 1/2 hour workshop for max 12 people with two CV coaches giving advice on structure, practical writing, interview planning, cover letters, working with headhunters and a post-workshop where CV House offers a detailed critique on your finished C.V and ways in which you could polish it further.
Work experience – you could try and take a low-paid or unpaid (yikes) internship. If you’re considering taking unpaid work though, you really need to make sure you don’t feel that you’re being exploited. Have a frank discussion with the employer at the beginning of the placement so that you’re both aware of each other’s expectations. Ensure that the work placement is valuable and gives a great insight into the industry that you want to work for. Discuss the possibility of future ‘paid’ work for the employer, depending on how your unpaid stint goes. Use the time of the internship to network and make more contacts. For both work experience and temp work (see below) it can be worth looking at sites such as Gumtree, which is a free ads London site and has various opportunities that are worth a look. You could also use it to post your own availability and skills.
Temporary work – don’t be scared to take some temporary work to tide you over until you get a permanent measure. Many employees start life temping for a company and then get taken on as a permanent employee once they’ve proven they’re worth their salt. If you can possibly find temp work in an organization or industry that you feel passionate about, then that’s even better, but if not then at least you’ll be working and there won’t be a gap between dates on your C.V.
If you wish to be a temp, either email a temping agency, or phone them up and hopefully they will invite you in for registration, which consists of typing tests and probably Microsoft Word/Excel proficiency. To practice your typing for free, visit Learn2type.com – you should be aiming for at least a speed of 45 words per minute (wpm). You will also need to give past work references or contact details for college tutors if you have recently left Further Education.
The following agencies are a useful place to start trying to register with:
An excellent service can be found at www.gradclub.co.uk . It specialises in helping people who have graduated elsewhere and are looking for job opportunities in London.
Membership costs £55 for the year after you graduate and entitles you to a multitude of free resources as well as discounts on individual career guidance and practice interviews.
- You can also check out the Association of Graduate Recruiters www.agr.org.uk for an idea of who’s hiring and the latest graduate recruitment news.
- www.gradjobs.co.uk is the perfect place to help kick-start your graduate career. As well as job ads, you can access graduate case studies, look for internships and even play the Gradjobs food fight online game!
How to find a job in London for other young professionals
Start by looking in local papers - the free Evening Standard is handed out in the late afternoon around tube and train stations and in the street. It features lists of job ads and employment agencies for you to contact. Similarly, grab a copy of the Metro in the morning at most tube or train stations.
Pub or shop work should be found by approaching an individual pub or shop with your CV in hand.
Otherwise, you should directly approach employment/recruitment agencies with your CV who may invite you in for registration if they consider you to be appropriate.
Start your own business – if you have a skill that could easily translate into freelance work, then perhaps you should consider starting up your own company. It might seem an extremely risky time to go it alone, but in reality companies are relying more and more on freelance companies that they can use on an ad hoc basis, rather than employing a permanent member of staff to do the same work. Many successful enterprises born in the recession of the early 90s are still around today. You may have more difficulty trying to secure bank loans for startup costs at the moment, but if you work hard on your business plan and seek the advice of services such as Businesslink, you could end up seeing this period of being out of work as a blessing in disguise in the long run. If you are looking to do freelance work whilst in London, you can always work from home for certain types of businesses or use a serviced offices provider which provides you with a small professional space.
For further advice on working in London, please read our
Moving to London blog.