The traditional right of passage isn’t so much the moving to the UK, but getting a) a bank account, b) surviving the northern hemisphere cold and flu strains determined to crush you, both of which are arguably harder than securing c) a JOB.
I can tell you that nothing squashes backpacker zen faster than dealing with recruiters in the UK. Never fear! We are here to help smooth the transition with an unofficial list of tips and tricks to help you find a job.
1. Sign up with multiple recruiters and embrace the middleman/woman. In the UK, it is all about the middleman/woman.
- You cannot bite that middleman/woman’s hand as it is the hand that will feed you. No matter how rubbish their emails are to you, always respond in a professional manner.
- For God’s sake, keep a spreadsheet recording the jobs that you have applied for and which recruiter: it is not a good look to be put forward for the same job by two different recruiters.
- They are like your cat. I.e. they will only come looking for you if they want something. Otherwise they will be hiding out in the garage until you call them.
2. Plunder your Kiwis in London address book. Seems obvious, but call anyone you ever knew ever in your industry and see if there is anything going. I know loads of people who have managed to score a job this way. I even got one or two interviews through friends/contacts but did not manage to get anything due to “lack of UK experience” (see below).
3. Similarly, if you were a big fish back in New Zealand, be prepared to be the tiniest little minnow in the biggest pond of upwardly mobile minnows. I mean, it’s no New York, but it is competitive and difficult to get a foot in the door. For a couple of reasons:
- Recruiters have memories like goldfish. If your CV is on the top of their pile, you’re more likely to be picked first.
- Lack of UK experience is a real thing. You might know that you are perfectly capable of learning skills on the job but most UK recruiters will want to see that you have already done the job/been doing to job/have all the experience for the job and don’t subscribe to the “jack of all trades” Kiwi school of thought.
4. SO, a couple of obvious but important tips:
- Carefully tailor your experience to each role you apply for. Recruiters will most likely have never heard of the company/firm you worked for (even if it was a big organisation in NZ), so make sure that you play up the relevant skills and competencies in your CV.
- Write eloquent cover letters/emails with specific examples of how your skills meet the job criteria. This may not work for everyone but it certainly got me through the door of a few recruiters. If you can locate an antipodean recruiter, they may be able to help you to re-write your CV for the UK market.
5. Be awesome at your job. This more applies to the contractors among us but, once you have recruiters on your side, they will call you. They might try to bully you into accepting any old thing, but at least they’re calling you, am I right! On that, make sure that if you are available for work let them know. Depending on levels of desperation, that might mean calling every morning or sending an email every Monday. Don’t be embarrassed. The aim is to get a JOB so that you can secure an overpriced hovel and eat cheese in France.