Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Getting a job in London or the UK

At the request of David who left a comment on my 'Work Differences' post and Alana who left a comment on my 'Reason Number 37...' (and after realizing that I've never actually done a post about finding a job in London/the UK...), I thought I'd try to do so now.  Ironically, though I have a job here-and have successfully found jobs once on the ground here, trying to sum up to others what to do is proving a challenge.  But, at the heart of it are 2-3 big ticket items worth mentioning (that, especially compared with finding a job in the US are rather different):

1.  It's not what you know, it's who you know.  This seems to be even more true in London (and the UK and even wider EU) than I've ever experienced.  Aside from my first role here in London in which I transferred with my company from the US, I've found my subsequent jobs thru people I know.  So:  If you aren't on LinkedIn, get yourself on with a good profile *yesterday.*  I cannot stress this enough. I've lost count of the number of times I've met someone in a professional setting-however brief the encounter-only to have a LinkedIn invite waiting for me in my inbox before the end of the day.

LinkedIn.  Do it.

2.  It's not who you know, it's who knows you.  On the flip side of the above, for better or for worse, recruiters/head hunters are incredibly active in placement for many-if not most-companies in London/the UK.  I don't know of any company who doesn't work with a recruiting agency aside from my current employer.  One simple search on Google easily confirms this space: type "London BLAH recruiter/recruitment" where BLAH is your profession, and you'll instantly see the full list of results of companies that operate in this space.  Check 'em out, and contact the ones that have a job you're interested in.

On a related note about LinkedIn, you will also likely find that with a full profile, recruiters won't be shy about reaching out to you either!  Mind you, my professional space is probably a bit more 'active' on LinkedIn than others, but I easily average ~2-3 connection requests/direct emails a week from recruiters.  I almost took a job via the recruiter route (opted instead for my current employer), so it is indeed a legitimate route-though at times, it can feel simply like a 'necessary evil.'

3.  Make sure you can um, actually *work* in the UK.  Sorry to have to state the obvious, but it does bear mention:  make sure you're speaking with companies that actually have the ability to hire a non EU/UK citizen and have to have a work visa. There are numerous types of visas, but for most people reading this blog, a Tier 1 or Tier 2 are the likely options.  A Tier 2 visa requires 'company sponsorship'-ie you can work in the UK as long as you are employed by your sponsoring company.  A Tier 1 visa effectively functions as 'self sponsoring' (though an employer can help you to receive this visa as well).  The difference/benefit of having a Tier 1 visa is you are now free to come/go to any employer you wish to-much like a EU/UK citizen.

To qualify for a Tier 1, you have to have a certain number of 'points.'  On the points based system, you'll have to prove things like....financial stability (bank records, as well as salary of your current job), English proficiency (a pass if you're American/Canadian/etc), education (Bachelors is good, Masters is great), and a few other bits.  If I recall, the Masters degree, and making over £40k (I think?...) were the two biggest boosts to get the points you need.

A note of caution: The rules for visas in the UK change numerous times during the year, so it would behoove you to do your homework first on this topic to even understand whether or not getting a job is even an option!

A note of caution #2:  It can take some time to get your visa.  So, whether you work with an employer/legal firm or DIY, you should allow for a good 6-8 weeks, if not longer-and plan accordingly.

OK. Short of going on forever, those are probably the three big things*I* think are most important regarding this topic.  I am *by no means* an expert on this-and would love to have input from others. What are your top tips for finding a job in the UK?

Thinking About a Second Career (an Update)

...it's almost like TFL (Transport for London-the managing company for London Underground) was reading my blogpost!

In my inbox this morning was the following email:

"I am writing to remind you that although our transport network is very safe, you should continue to be vigilant, particularly now the Christmas shopping season is upon us.

Here are some simple tips to keep your belongings safe:
  • Keep your bags zipped or closed
  • Small high value items are most desirable for pick‑pockets, so try to keep items like MP3 players, wallets and Smartphones out of sight
  • Avoid keeping your wallet or mobile phone in your back pocket
  • Try to have your ticket, pass or change ready in your hand so your purse or wallet is out of sight
For more information visit www.btp.police.uk/pickpockets"

Well timed, TFL.  Well timed. :)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Thinking about a Second Career

I've lost count of the number of times I've seen women walking around the tube stations, standing on the tube platform, or in the actual tube with their purses wide open.

If I were a predator, this would be the easiest second career I could ever consider.  Just this past week alone, I saw two women on the platform at Tottenham Court Road (different days) with purses hanging from their shoulders with large, gaping holes because they haven't zipped/snapped/clipped the top of their bag shut.  And, just last night, I sat across from a lady who got on the tube, sat down, and actually placed her purse on the ground next to her.  And then proceeded to bury her face in a book.   

I know we all have momentary lapses in awareness from time to time, but I do often wonder if some of the women I see doing this are just that absent minded-or just that irresponsible (my polite word for 'stupid').  Perhaps it's just me, but when I'm on the tube and sitting, I've got my purse in my lap with a death grip on it; if I'm standing, the starting point of the zipper always faces forward, and I keep my 2nd hand over this.  

One of the purses I love to carry has a superfluous zipper on the outside that, due to the way I carry my purse, the zipper is behind me where I can't see and easy to get to-if someone wanted to.  I've lost count of the number of times I've gotten off a crowded tube only to find the zipper had been unzipped-by clearly an intentional act of someone hoping to get lucky.

Ladies..at some point we must stop making ourselves such easy targets.  Care to start today?

Thanks to Bag Sanity for the image 

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Reason Number 37 Expats are Made to Feel Like Criminals

It's rough enough going thru passport control in the UK these days.  My passport is scrutinized.  My ID Card (acting as a proxy for my Visa) is scrutinized.  I'm scrutinized.

Apparently that isn't enough for UK Immigration.   They're now starting to monitor immigrants at work.  This just landed in my work inbox.  I can't help but add my own [editorial commentary]:

"I am writing to inform you of the upcoming right to work checks that {your employer-aka YE} will be conducting. As you may be aware [no, I wasn't...], YE are required to conduct annual right to work checks on employees in order to comply with UK immigration legislation. Although we already have on file copies of the required authorizations for your right to work in the UK as a non-EU National [which should suffice...], UK legislation requires us to take certified copies of these documents on an annual basis. For more info please see the UK Border Agency guide.

We are arranging for these checks to be carried out by our specialist immigration providers.  They will need to meet with you personally to view your Passport, visa, or other relevant documentation, as appropriate. [Shall I also provide a blood sample, iris scan, or DNA string?...] It is extremely important that these checks are completed and we ask for your assistance in accommodating the request. [Like I have any choice?..]"

Relative to the US, I generally acknowledge that the UK is much more flexible on these types of things, so it's correspondence like this that makes me wonder just what Simon & I are opening ourselves up for if he ever gets a greencard & we move to the US.  'Life Admin' as an Expat is exponentially greater as an expat.  I can only imagine how much worse this will be in the US.  Good times.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

I'm with the Brits

This past week, I attended my first-ever pan-European conference for work.  Over the years, I've attended numerous US conferences, and several UK conferences.  This was the first conference I've ever attended that spanned not only the UK, but the continent as well.  And, let me just say....if there were ever any doubt about identifying with the country I've been living in for the past 3 years and 8 months (!), that all evaporated this past week!
The chaos, pushing & shoving (we were a bit cramped...) and 'non-British' queuing *really* got on both my and my London-based colleagues nerves-and I can honestly say I was longing for the ways of the English. Funny.

Conversely, I don't think others saw me as an American at this conference either; I was quite firmly with the Brits, and identified as being 'one of them' (primarily by non-native English language people who can't discern the accent difference).

And, I was completely OK with it.