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How to get a Job in London

So you want to work in London? You’ve gone through the arduous task of securing your visa – now all you need is to secure a job. London is one of the most sought after places in the world to work: some of the brightest talents are competing for the best positions. So how do you ensure that you’re in with a fighting chance of getting the job of your dreams?

This is best approached in a tailored, step-by-step process:

  1. Have an outstanding CV

  2. Begin a job search

  3. Be fully prepared for your interview

1: Your CV

This is a step that takes serious consideration. With the competition being high for the most sought after jobs, it’s essential to be sure that your CV stands out from the rest. It’s a well-known fact that employers are inundated with CVs from prospective candidates. This probably means that each only gets a cursory, 30 second glance before it goes on the ‘possible’ pile, or gets rejected without further consideration.

You should think of your CV as your own personal marketing tool. One of the most vital aspects is that it is UK specific. It should be set out in a manner that’s accepted as standard in the UK. For expats this may well mean seeking professional advice on layout and what to include. And more importantly, what doesn’t need to be included.

Professional CV writing companies such as The CV Centre provide such a service. Charges start at £34.95 for a full review, and they can also offer advice on the completion of job application forms, interview coaching and career advice.

Things that should definitely be included in your CV include work experience, university degrees, training, qualifications and certifications. Languages spoken should also be listed. A CV should also be tailored to ensure it’s specific for the job you’re applying for, so a little tweaking may well be necessary for each individual job application.

2: The job search

Word of mouth is a great place to start. Take full advantage of anyone you know who’s working (or has worked) in your chosen industry. Introductions in this manner are a great way forward, as is networking with anyone who might be able to help you get in touch with employers looking for someone with your skills.

As an aside, it also helps if you reciprocate with similar introductions. This might not help you find a position at that particular time, but in the future you’ll definitely be remembered by anyone who you helped secure employment – and they might well be your link to future opportunities.

There are many job search websites in the UK (many are global), and it pays to spend time to register and upload your CV to a selection of these. Some of the best are Monster, Indeed and Total Jobs. Each of these updates daily with new positions, and you can subscribe to an email service whereby you’ll be the first to know if a job that might suit has been posted. CV Library is also a good place to register, and one that some of the UK’s biggest employers use to advertise jobs. These include HSBC, Santander and Honda.

Another likely source of employment is Linkedin. This is a networking and personal marketing tool used by the world’s best professionals. Spending a good amount of time creating an excellent profile, linking up with others in your industry and networking has seen many people secure good positions. Some of the best employers search Linkedin when looking for potential candidates, and in today’s employment world this is an essential tool to use.

Other places to look are the job advertising pages of newspapers such as The Guardian, Evening Standard and The Times. Jobs are listed both in the actual papers, as well as online.

3: The interview

So you’ve sweated over your CV, trawled the job adverts and received that coveted invitation to interview. Well done you! An initial interview might take place on the phone, perhaps by Skype or face to face. Whichever it might be, preparation is the key to success. Preparation should always include the following:

  • Research the company. What is it exactly that they do? How long have they been in business? Who are the key people in positions of authority? How is the company structured? Ensure that you let the interviewer know that you’ve done your homework, and that you’re truly interested in working for the company.

  • Take a long hard look at your own background. What can you offer the company and position you’re applying for? What past successes have you achieved that you can talk about? How have you handled challenging situations in the past? What are your strengths (and weaknesses) and how would the company benefit from employing you?

Face to face (or, indeed, Skype) interviews have additional requirements. It goes without saying that you should dress for the part. For the guys this means, without exception, a suit and tie. For the ladies, a smart suit or skirt/trousers and blouse. Shoes should be clean and polished, hair neat and tidy and make sure your nails are in tip-top condition. If you wear nail varnish, it should be freshly applied and definitely not chipped or worn.

If you feel it’s appropriate, it never hurts to take a few carefully selected examples of previous work/projects along with you. And there’s certainly nothing wrong with writing down a list of questions you want to ask the interviewer/s. There’s nothing worse than getting to that inevitable question, “So is there anything you want to ask us”, and having your mind go blank.

Don’t be surprised if there’s a bit of ‘breaking the ice’ chitchat during an interview. This is a chance for your prospective employers to get to know a bit about the person behind the professional.

After the interview

It’s not often that you’ll be told at interview if you’re successful or not. However, most large companies do their best to let you know within 48 hours. The day after your interview (or later that day if your interview is in the morning), it’s good manners to send a brief email of thanks to the person who arranged/carried out the interview. This shows your interest in the position, as well as keeping your name in the forefront of the company’s mind.

And if you don’t get the job, all good employers should provide feedback on why you weren’t successful. Take what they tell you in good spirit, and take on board what they say. This is all part of the learning curve for securing your job in London. You may not have been successful this time, but with perseverance and the right attitude, you will secure a job in the future. Positivity, preparation and application are what you need for success.