Find jobs in London with this guide on the current job market in London, job vacancies, UK work permits, and where to find jobs vacancies.
If you’re looking for jobs in the UK, you’ll find a wide variety of opportunities for foreign workers in London. The UK’s capital city was ranked the world’s best city in terms of job opportunities according to a 2014 PwC study due to a combination of having a diverse and innovative economy and a vibrant city life.
This guide to jobs in London includes sections on:
Work in London
The job market in London
Although London has more job opportunities than other parts of the UK, it has a slightly higher unemployment rate. In March 2020, this stood at 4.5% compared to the UK unemployment rate of 3.9%. During the Covid-19 pandemic, unemployment in London rose to 7.6% in June 2020, the highest anywhere in the UK.
However, the economy in London is expected to recover with predicted positive growth rates of 1.4% in 2021 and 4.9% in 2022.
London has a diverse economy and there are good opportunities in skilled sectors such as finance (especially in the financial district, the Square Mile in the City of London, and Canary Wharf), ICT, creative and media, scientific and technical jobs, and senior management positions. There are also many jobs in tourism, retail, healthcare, education, public administration, transport, and construction.
Some of the biggest companies in the UK are based in London, including:
- Royal Dutch Shell
- Rio Tinto
Available jobs in London
The number of employers in London unable to fill vacancies due to skills shortages has more than doubled since 2011. Sectors experiencing the most severe shortages in recent years have been:
- healthcare (particularly NHS jobs)
However, competition is fierce for jobs in London with many hundreds of applications for a single position. Additionally, as a result of Brexit, the UK government is introducing new measures to restrict the number of foreign workers coming to the UK.
You will have more chance of getting a job if it’s on the UK government’s list of shortage occupations in England and Wales.
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 around 60% have university degrees. Increasingly graduates are working in non-graduate jobs because of the large numbers of educated candidates on the market. Around 60% of positions in London are full-time; 38% 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).
Visas and work permits
EU/EFTA citizens can currently come to the UK without a visa or work permit. However, this is due to change as of 1 January 2021 when the UK officially leaves the EU. From this date, EU/EFTA residents will be classed the same as third-country nationals.
Most third country citizens 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.
You will need to be able to speak English to a high standard to get a well-paid, professional job in London. Because London is a multicultural city with many residents and visitors speaking foreign languages, 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.
You can find details on where to study English in London in our guide to studying English in the UK.
Getting your qualifications recognized in London
Contact UK NARIC to get your qualifications and skills recognized 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 – various professional and admin jobs in the charity sector
- City Jobs – banking, finance, accounting, insurance
- CWJobs – IT
- Cision – journalism and PR
- Graduate Jobs
- Nannyjob – 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 specialize 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 specialize 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 centers, hospitality, telecoms, and retail, etc.
- 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 Find A Job (formerly Universal Jobsearch). You can create a profile to help match you with suitable jobs in London, build or upload CVs and covering letters, get e-mail 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 centers, 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 pay of around £70-85 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 recognized through the British Au Pair Agencies Association (BAPAA), or look at adverts from families in London seeking au pairs on Childcare UK.
Networking in London
In London, it’s often about who 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 often look at LinkedIn (so keep your info updated) but they also look at what people are doing on Twitter, Facebook and 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.
You can also try making speculative applications to companies by sending them a CV and cover letter. Check the company website for the right person or department to address your application to.
Tips for applying for a job in London
- Most companies in London welcome speculative applications, so go for it. Always try to 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, unless they have their own online application form. Make sure you address the points in the ‘person specification’ if applying for a particular job
- Companies are usually inundated with applications; don’t be offended if you don’t receive an acknowledgment. If you haven’t heard by 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 work-wise and how you handled them. Also, prepare some insightful questions to ask to show that you’re interested in the role.
- If you don’t get the job, you can contact the HR department to ask for some feedback if you reached the interview stage.