London is a vibrant, diverse and multicultural hub with a million and one opportunities on every corner. It’s also fiercely competitive, incredibly expensive and hugely over populated, but don’t let that stop you from enjoying what the great city has to offer and finding your dream job.  Expats looking to make the most of their time here and get a job in London fastwill need to be prepared. If you plan on making a trip to London for work, you’ll need to get clued up on what you need to do and how to go about it.

Preparation

When you start thinking about moving to London, it can very easy to get caught up in the excitement of looking at things to do and places to see. But don’t forget you’ll need to plan this first- and fund it! Before you can even think about stepping on the shores of Old’ Blighty, you will need to make sure you’re fully prepared for the complex visa system,  employment rules and mostly importantly make sure you will get a job in London. Preparation is the key and you will need to make sure everything is in order for your arrival.  If you’ve decided to move to London to boost your career or start one there are a number of things you will need to think about.

Much like a New Year’s resolution list you might high hopes for living in London but will need to be realistic about what you want to do, how possible it is and the time frame you want to do this in. This could mean getting more qualifications and studying in London first to increase your job prospects or taking a lower position to work your way up the career ladder. Whatever your skills and circumstances, getting a job in London can be much easier and quicker if you have clear aims and goals. Job hunting is tough, now more so than ever in this economic climate, but that doesn’t mean jobs are not out there.  UK Employment figures reached a new high in the beginning of 2013 with the employment rate hitting the highest level since records began in 1971.

But, before you can be one of the millions of people working in London, you need to think about what kind of job you want to do. Consider whether you like working in an office environment or if you want to be outdoors, maybe you would like a role that’s more active and practical or one that involves data and analysis. By putting all your job thoughts down on paper, not only could this help  to give you a clearer picture of what you want to do but it also brings you one step closer to getting a job in London.

Do I need a visa and what type?

If you are coming to the UK from overseas to study, visit or work you might need a visa. Visits usually involve coming to the UK for up to six months. However, if you want to work, either paid or unpaid in that time you will need a work visa. It’s incredibly important that you get the right visa-without one it your whole London life could be uprooted, your trip cancelled or worse you could be deported.

Which work visa do I need?

There are several different types of work visa designed for different circumstances and skills.   For example, entrepreneurs, investors and ‘exceptionally talented’ people  can apply for a work visa without needing a job offer first, but they still need to pass the UK points test which looks at your knowledge  of  life the UK, according to the UK Boarder Agency. This is known as a Tier 1 visa.

If you have been offered a job and a UK based employer is going to sponsor you, you can apply to enter the country on a work visa as a skilled worker. You would apply under a Tier 2 visa application. The amount of personal savings you must have to support your application has increased from £800 to £900 for applications made after 14th June 2012. If you’re coming to London to do temporary work, you will need to apply for a work permit under a Tier 5 visa. You must have job offer from a licensed sponsor to apply for it and pass the point system.  For example, if you’re coming over from outside the European Union area to do voluntary/paid charity work in London, you will need a Tier 5 visa.

European nationals or Swiss nationals do not need permission from the UK Boarder Agency to live and work in the UK. They can however, along with Bulgarian and Romanian nationals, apply for a registration certificate rather than a visa which confirms your right of residence in the UK under European law.
If you have lived here for more than five years, you can then apply for a document certifying permanent residence. All European Economic Area and Swiss nationals can apply for a registration certificate at any time and can do this online.

Tier 1 visas

The Tier 1 (General) visa allows highly skilled expats to look for work in the UK and self employment opportunities as well. You cannot apply for this visa if you live outside of the UK. This is for highly skilled workers looking to extend their current stay in the UK.

Even if you are a migrant who is already here, you might not be able to apply. This is the part where it gets complicated because even if you qualify under the specific rules to apply, other reasons like your previous immigration history could see your visa application being refused.

You can apply to have the Tier 1 visa extended if you are one of the following: a highly skilled migrant worked, already on a highly skilled migrant programmer looking to be transferred to Tier 1. A writer, composer or artist, self employed lawyer or come under the Tier 1 General category. In order to meet the Tier 1 visa requirements you must obtain a set number of points. The point system is devised of different categories and you will have to gain a number of points in each one.

The point system

The points system is broken down into the following categories: age, qualification, previous earnings and experience in the UK. You will also be asked about your English language ability and if you have enough money to support yourself whilst in the UK.  The points based calculator will then reveal the possible point you might have scored.  Points are based on the meeting requirements of each section.

You must have a minimum total point score of 95 to continuing staying in the UK under a Tier 1 visa. You will need a total point score of 100 to be eligible for another visa type. When applying for a visa, you will need to provide all the important documents asked of you and in the right format.

Get a job in London fast

Once you’ve got your visa sorted and permission granted you’re on your way to landing that London job- all you need to do now is find it!

One of the first things to think about when looking for jobs is knowing where to look, exactly what you want to do or what kind of industry you would like to get involved. If you are not fussy about the work you do then you could find a job a lot faster. Either way, opportunities are out there and all you have to do is grab them. This could mean going the extra mile and being prepared to take on almost any role, not being afraid to ask about vacancies or sell yourself to potential employers.

There are a number of different job boards, recruitment agencies, newspapers, companies and online communities which list vacancies. And, of course, going into local businesses and shops and seeing what work is available also helps.
Before you can apply for a job you will need to brush up your CV and make it relevant to each company you apply for. CV’s are vital and allow employers to see your skills and previous employment record to see if you are a suitable candidate. Your CV or job application will be one of the first points of contact that your potential employee will have so it has to be up-to-date and make a good first impression. Find out how to create the perfect CV here and find tips and hints on writing cover letters here.

Who should I talk to about getting a job in London fast?

Wherever you’re from, whatever your background or level of qualification when it comes down to it, having the right contacts can really make or break your career. This rule still applies if you want to get a job in London fast. One of the best ways of improving your employment search is by simply having a contact in the industry or company you want to work for.
One of the best things you could do before leaving your home country is see what contacts you have in the UK or London. Someone you know might be able to put you in touch with someone they know and so eventually you could find a contact that could help propel your career in the city.

Not only that , but by knowing someone in London, they could house you until you find your feet, help point you in the right direction for finding a job or help you get to grips with British culture and life.

What could happen if I can’t find the job I want?

Finding work in the capital city can be very difficult for some. Skilled expats with degrees and qualifications could become frustrated if they cannot find work in the field they are specialist in. Many face taking odd jobs or roles they are over qualified for just to make ends meet which can make living in London extremely difficult, both financially and emotionally.

On the other hand, this can also work out really well. Working a job that isn’t necessarily your dream role could help buy you time to find one you have a passion for. You can also use the time to make new contacts, getting a feel for working life in the city and try something different if you don’t know what career path to take.

I’ve got a job! But what are my legal rights as a foreign employee in the UK?

Congratulations, you’ve secured a job in London! Whilst it can be exciting to know that you’re either on your way to stepping up the career ladder or just found a way to support your London lifestyle,  it is important that you know your employment rights so you’re not being mistreated.

For example, in the UK it is discriminatory to fire someone or even not hire them  because  of their race, age, sex, disability,  sexual orientation,  religious beliefs  or because you work part time. Under the basic statutory rights, by law you have the right to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) if you are over the age of 16.But, people living & working within families such as nannies and au pairs are not entitled to the NMW. Those who are self employed are also not entitled to the NMW, according to the Citizens Advice Bureau.

If you work for an agency the laws are very different and expats could be affected. Under new European rules, the rights temporary agency workers have in the UK increased in 2011. There are an estimated 1.4 million agency workers in the UK and they now have the right to paid holiday, no unlawful deductions from wages, protection under health and safety laws and the same access to shared areas and services other employees get such as access to a canteen, car parking, a workplace crèche or a prayer room, providing the employer offers these.

Armed with these tips and hints youll be sure to get a job in London fast.

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