Find a job in London with this guide on the current job market in London, job vacancies, UK work permits, and where to find jobs in London.
If you’re looking for jobs in London, you’ll find a wide variety of opportunities for foreign workers. London is the most desirable city in the world in which to work, according to a 2014 survey of more than 200,000 people from 189 countries carried out by the Boston Consulting Group and The Network. It’s down to the combination of the wide range of jobs in fast-moving, innovative and high-skill environments – some of which are very highly paid – alongside the cultural attractions, energy and diversity that personify London.
Besides the job-hunting tips, job websites and recruitment agencies detailed in Expatica’s guide to finding jobs in the UK, here’s additional information on what you need to get started on your job search in London: information and advice on the available jobs in London, and where to look to find them.
Work in London
The job market in London
Confidence in the London economy is running high. UK economists predict a real output growth of around 3 percent in 2015. There has also been a strong increase in the number of businesses looking to recruit, and around 20 percent of businesses in London predict their workforces will increase over the coming months. There are good opportunities for skilled manual, technical, professional and managerial internationals who want to work in London, as recruiters report difficulties in filling these positions with suitably qualified candidates in the local market. Being able to speak another language as well as English is an advantage in multicultural London.
Available jobs in London
London’s main areas of business include finance and business (especially in the financial district, the so-called Square Mile in the City of London and Canary Wharf), the creative industries, digital services, property services and tourism. Large numbers of people also work in public administration in central and local government, in health and education (four of the world’s top universities are in London). Additionally, London’s constantly changing skyline bears witness to the growing construction industry, and opportunities for skilled manual workers.
In summer 2015 the biggest growth in London was seen in the professional, scientific and technical industries (just over 14 percent of jobs in London), in information and technology, and in the arts, entertainment and recreation sectors.
However, competition is fierce for jobs in London with many hundreds of applications for a single position. Under measures put in place in 2011, there is a cap of 20,700 posts a year on non-European Union (EU) skilled workers earning more than GBP 20,800 annually. You will have more chance of getting a job if it’s on the United Kingdom (UK) government’s list of shortage occupations in England and Wales. These jobs include civil, mechanical and electrical engineers, certain medical practitioners, maths and science teachers and classical ballet dancers, to name a few.
London work environment and culture
London is a lively, multicultural city and this is reflected in the workplace and multicultural workforce. The workforce in inner London is highly educated and 60 percent have university degrees, and increasingly graduates are working in non-graduate jobs because of the large numbers of educated candidates on the market. Around 60 percent of positions in London are full-time; 38 percent of positions in London are part-time.
Traditional, established businesses tend to be more formal dress-wise (suits and smart clothes) and in atmosphere (friendly but business like) while younger, creative businesses, such as digital and media companies, have a relaxed attitude to both (think no dress codes and table tennis in a loft workspace). Most UK workers are entitled to a minimum wage.
Visas and work permits
If you’re a citizen from a state in the European Economic Area (EEA – EU plus Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway) you can come to the UK without a visa and work without a work permit, with the exception of Croatian citizens who may need a registration certificate to work in the UK.
If you’re from any other country (third nationals/non-EEA citizens) you will likely need a visa to enter and work in the UK, although some exceptions exist. There are a number of visas with different conditions; for example, highly skilled migrants need a Tier 2 (general) visa, which requires a certificate of sponsorship from an employer before coming to the UK. Check the UK visas website to find out whether you need a visa – and how to apply if you do.
You will need to be able to speak English to a high standard to get a well-paid, professional job in London. Having another language in addition to English can give you an advantage. If you want a casual job, being able to speak English isn’t so important but the pay and conditions could be poor.
Getting your qualifications recognised in London
Contact UK NARIC to get your qualifications and skills recognised in London and the UK. You can apply online for a Statement of Compatibility by using scanned versions of your educational certificates and a transcript of your full academic record from your university or college. You may need to get these documents translated into English by a certified translator (contact your own embassy for information on doing this) although UK NARIC accepts documents in certain languages.
Finding jobs in London
Job websites in London
- Gumtree (similar to Craigslist, with a wide range of non-professional full and part-time jobs)
Specialist job websites in London
- CharityJob – fundraising, admin, marketing and communications
- City Jobs – banking, finance, accounting, insurance
- CWJobs – IT
- Gorkana – journalism and PR
- Nannyjob.co.uk – au pairs and nannies in London and beyond
- SECSinthecity – secretarial
- SimplyHRjobs – HR
- Studentjob – part-time for students
- TravelJobSearch– travel
Recruitment agencies in London
Most recruitment agencies specialise in a particular field, such as secretarial, accounting, nursing, catering and IT. Look in the Yellow Pages or go to the Recruitment & Employment Confederation website to find a London recruitment agency in the right sector. If you are an executive, manager or a professional, you might want to register with a ‘headhunter’. These agencies are employed by large companies to find people to fill senior positions. There are numerous headhunters in London; do an internet search on ‘headhunters’ to find them.
Temping agencies specialise in placing staff in temporary positions and are a great way for expats to get into the London job market and try working in different sectors – or place them in a position to apply for full-time work if the opportunity arises. Some top London temp agencies include Office-Angels (secretarial and admin, call centres, hospitality, telecoms and retail, etc) and Tate (PA jobs, receptionist, admin, customer service, HR and marketing).
Government job search in London
You can search and apply for jobs in London through the UK government’s Universal Jobmatch. You can create a profile to help match you with suitable jobs in London, build or upload CVs and covering letters, get email alerts and track applications.
There are government-run JobCentrePlus offices all over London, usually focusing on non-professional jobs.
Newspapers and other publications
London-specific, free daily newspapers found at Underground stations, railway stations and on the street include Metro (sales, engineering, secretarial, accountancy, health, tech) and the Evening Standard (jobs, in sales, building, hotels and catering).
The following newspapers have professional level jobs throughout the UK but a large number of them are based in London. In many cases, you can search for jobs, upload CVs and apply online; jobs are also provided in their print editions, too.
- Guardian Online (arts, media, tech/new media, charities, graduate, marketing and PR, social and health, senior executive, education and recruitment).
- The Independent (media, public sector, tech/new media, finance/accounting, engineering, marketing).
- The Telegraph (professional across the sectors).
- The Times/Sunday Times (senior positions).
The Big Issue magazine that’s sold on the street by homeless people has jobs in the charity and not-for-profit sector, listed in the print edition and also online.
Put London in the search option at Loot to find jobs in building, customer services/call centres, domestic, hotels, catering, IT, retail, admin and driving.
Working as an au pair in London
Au pairs live with the family and help with light housework and childcare for about 30 hours of week in exchange for ‘pocket money’ of around GBP 70 and GBP 85 a week or more, depending on size of the host family and whereabouts in London they live. If you are a non-EU citizen you need to have either a Youth Mobility Visa or student visa to work as an au pair. You can find a host family through an agency such as AuPairWorld or one recognised through the British Au Pair Agencies Association, or look at adverts from families in London seeking au pairs on Childcare UK.
Networking in London
In London, it’s often about what you know and whom you know – or these days, to whom you tweet or follow on social media. Not only can you can make contact with others in your field through social media but headhunters also use it to find suitable applicants. They obviously look at LinkedIn (so keep your info updated) but they also look at what people are doing on Twitter, Facebook – even Pinterest – so make sure what you post is what you would be happy for future employers to see.
Make as many contacts as you can before you come to London and while you’re here – and use them. Let everyone know you’re looking for work. Attend conferences, forums, professional networking events and social gatherings. Check out Eventbrite, Meetup and Find Networking Events in Central London.
Tips for applying for a job in London
- Most companies in London welcome speculative applications, so go for it. Always write to a specific person; look on company websites or call the company to find who that is.
- If you speak more than one language make sure you include this in your CV even if it doesn’t seem relevant to the job – being multilingual is very helpful in multicultural London
- Make sure you mention that you are legally able to work in the UK.
- Many companies in London will require full CVs and covering letters even for lower level jobs.
- Companies are usually inundated with applications; don’t be offended if you don’t receive an acknowledgment. If you haven’t heard after a few weeks after the closing date, it’s okay to contact the HR department to ask about your application.
- When you’re preparing for an interview, think of some challenging situations workwise and how you handled them.
- If you don’t get the job, you can contact the HR department to ask for some feedback.
- Read more in our guide on how to apply for a job in the UK, including writing a UK-style CV and cover letter, and what to expect in an interview.