How to Find Work in London for Foreigners

For those who aren’t British born, and therefore don’t hold a British passport, finding work in London is, you’ll be glad to hear, not that difficult.

But before we even get into the fine points of job hunting, the first thing to consider is your ability to be able to work in the UK.

For those who are citizens of an EU or EEA member state, this is no problem, as you can freely move within the region and live and work where you want. The current EU member countries as of November 2015 are:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Bulgaria
  • Croatia
  • Republic of Cyprus
  • Czech Republic
  • Denmark
  • Estonia
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Greece
  • Hungary
  • Ireland
  • Italy
  • Latvia
  • Lithuania
  • Luxembourg
  • Malta
  • Netherlands
  • Poland
  • Portugal
  • Romania
  • Slovakia
  • Slovenia
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • UK


And the EEA (European Economic Area) includes all the above, plus:

  • Iceland
  • Liechtenstein
  • Norway


In addition, Switzerland is a member of neither but nationals have the same rights to live and work in the UK.

For anyone who is not a citizen of the above countries, it’s necessary to get a visa to be able to live and work in the UK. There are many different types of visas, and the one that will be right for you will depend on your individual circumstances.

Once you’ve got the right to live and work in London and the UK, it’s time to start…

The Job Search

There are many different ways for non-British nationals to start their job search. In the 21st century we have the ease of searching online. The first thing that you need to ensure is that you have an up to date CV (resume).

One thing you need to be sure of here is that your CV is set out in the format that UK employers expect.

For many people it can be advantageous to get a little professional help in doing this. It will cost a little, but is definitely money well spent. There are many companies that offer such a service, such as The CV Centre and The CV Store.

Such companies can provide a basic service or one that is more bespoke. Depending on the level of employment you’re looking for, either one might suit your needs.

Take some time to work out what are your best skills. It goes without saying that the more fluent in English you are, the easier it is going to be to find work in London.

If your English speaking is in need of improvement, it might be worth taking some English language classes to help. There are many places you can do this, such as The London School of English or International House London.

If you just need to brush up on your English skills, why not check out Gum Tree for people who offer a ‘language exchange’ service.

In such cases you trade speaking skills (either face to face, over the phone or by video link) – perhaps spending half the time talking English and the other half speaking your own language.

Finding Job Vacancies

There are a many different ways to seek out job vacancies on offer. These are:

  • Job search websites
  • Company websites
  • Newspapers
  • Individual adverts
  • Word of mouth
  • Speculative searches
  • Social media


Job Search Websites

Some of the biggest and best include Total Jobs, Indeed and Monster. Not only can you search the jobs on offer, but you can upload your CV and create a profile so that companies can also seek you out and contact you directly.

Company Websites

Large companies tend to have a dedicated recruitment section to their websites. The following are great examples, and you can easily apply and follow the recruitment process specific for that company.



The large national newspapers tend to advertise employment opportunities once a week. The Guardian, The Times and The Independent are all good examples.

You can also check out smaller local papers that come out weekly and have an employment section.

Individual Adverts

Smaller companies (such as individually owned and run retail outlets, restaurants or cafes), often place adverts in their shop window or on posters.

There will be contact details (email, website or a telephone number) meaning you can get through to the person dealing with hiring immediately.

Word of Mouth

Put the word out to everyone you know that you’re looking for employment. If someone tells you about a current vacancy, be sure to immediately follow it up.

In many cases, jobs are filled in this manner and never even reach the stage of being advertised – that’s why it’s essential to move fast if you hear of a job that might suit.

Speculative Searches

This is a job search method that literally means picking up the phone or visiting shops/restaurants/businesses to ask if they have any current opportunities.

You need to be prepared for anything if searching for a job in this manner – such as being asked to undertake an immediate trial or being asked questions that are virtually an instant interview.

Because of this, if you’re visiting in person be sure to dress smartly. You should also carry copies of your CV so you can hand one over if asked.

Social Media

Websites such as LinkedIn are a great place to network and find employment opportunities. Many large companies and head hunters use Linkedin as one of their primary places to find new talent.

Ensure that your profile is up to date, include a CV and connect with as many people in your industry as you can.

Current UK Skills Shortage

There are many jobs on the official government job skills shortage list, and if you’re lucky enough to be qualified in one of these fields, then you’re going to command a good salary rate.

In addition, being qualified in one of these jobs means that the process of getting a UK work visa becomes far easier. The skills shortage list is regularly updated and can be found on the official UK Government website.