expat life: finding a job in London
For young people who want to combine a big career move with a diverse and exciting social life, there is nowhere better to be than London.
From finance to media, politics to the arts, England’s capital offers a host of professional opportunities whilst also being home to some of the best culture in the world.
But with such an incredible city comes a lot of competition, and finding a job in the UK whilst still living abroad can be a daunting prospect. But fear not; Lyvly is here with advice to help you secure a new role in London, from wherever you are.
Find a job to suit your lifestyle aspirations
Before jumping head first into your job search, it's important to consider exactly why you want to move to London and what lifestyle you hope to have here. Understanding your personal metrics for success and the sort of work/life balance you hope to achieve will help you narrow down your choices. You can then target roles and companies that fit in with your own idea of London life.
For example, if making a ton of new friends is your aim, a 2-person start up isn’t going to be the best place to find a ready made social group. Alternatively, if you’re heading to the capital to enjoy all of London’s incredible culture, a hectic consultancy may not give you the free time you need to make the most of it.
After all, if you’re expected to keep your evenings free for client entertainment, you could end up spending more time in the pub with Tony from RBS and less at the National Portrait Gallery.
Try to focus on the reasons you were originally attracted to moving to London and choose a role that will facilitate that lifestyle. Making a knee-jerk move could result in you being dissatisfied both professionally and personally, which is no way to spend your time in the best city in the world.
Working weeks can be tiring and factoring in a long commute if you've moved to the wrong area, it can turn a dream move into a nightmare. With Lyvly we take care of all the admin that comes with renting, so you are free to enjoy all that London has to offer outside of work. We also work hard to put you in a home that ensures your travel times are as short as possible, helping to cut down the length of the working week.
Be realistic about your financial needs
When you move to London one of the first things you’ll realise about us Brits is that we hate to talk about money. However, when it comes to you job search it’s important that you get comfortable thinking and talking about the financial implications of moving to a new city and how that will impact your salary requirements.
Whilst it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how much you need to live here, a recent Time Out survey found that Londoner’s believe you need an average of £53,000 to live comfortably in the capital. However, only you know how much disposable income you need to be happy here.
UK Wages Breakdown
Annual Salary£25,000£35,000£45,000£53,000Monthly Gross £2,083.33 £2,916.67 £3,750 £4,416.67 Tax & NI £372.01 £638.68 £905.35 £1143.68 Take Home Pay £1,711.32 £2,227.99 £2844.65 £3272.99
If your hobbies are knitting and home cooking you’ll probably be able to get by on less than if you were into fine wine tasting and weekly trips to the Opera.
When it comes to working out your living costs, a general rule of thumb is to set aside 30% of your monthly salary for rent, but it may need to be a little higher if you're living in London, obviously depending on your wage.
Getting your head around the bills involved in living in London can also be an added complication when figuring out your financials. With Lyvly, all of your bills and admin fees are included, so when living in one of our properties, that’s at least something off your checklist.
It’s also important to factor in public transport costs, as almost everyone in London will need to take the tube or bus to work. The TFL website is a helpful source of information on stuff like the price of monthly travel cards and what the cost implications are for the different zones you can live in.
Once you’ve accounted for your monthly outgoings you can start to build a picture of what annual salary you’ll need to really enjoy your new life in London.
Get networking online
In a competitive job market, networking can be the key to unlocking many a professional door. But what about when you aren’t in the city you want a job in? Enter our old friend, the internet.
We know it’s easy to think that the internet is only useful for cat GIFs and Deliveroo orders, but it can open up a whole world of professional connections if used wisely.
Platforms like Linkedin and Twitter give you a direct line of communication to the founders and leaders of brands you love and are ideal places to virtually network. Engage with their content, get involved in discussions they’re having and, once you’ve built up a rapport, you can slide in to their (professional) DMs and introduce yourself.
Whilst this isn’t guaranteed to secure you a role, they may be able to offer some advice or introduce you to someone else who is hiring - and you’ll be firmly on their radar if and when they start building their team.
Whilst we’re on the subject of social media, it’s probably a good idea to give yours an audit before embarking on a job search - it’s not only politicians that can have their career aspirations scuppered by a rogue Tweet.
A quick fix is to make sure all your social channels are set to private, but if you have the time, a carefully curated online persona can actually go in your favour. Highlighting your sporting and philanthropic activities (whilst simultaneously hiding those videos of you from your college days) will let prospective employers see your personality without them finding any embarrassing content that could ruin your application.
Swap job boards for recruitment agencies
It can be a difficult beast understanding how to navigate your career in London. There are plenty of job search sites websites to find work in the UK, Indeed and Monster being two of the most popular. However, each job posting on these sites receives around 250 applications, with only an average of 4 to 5 applicants being invited to interview.
Now, recruitment consultants often get a bad rep, but find a good one and they can be like gold dust for your job search, helping you cut through the sheer mass of applications hiring managers are receiving.
If you’re looking for entry level positions and are open to different industries, then some of the big name recruitment companies such as Hays and Reed can be a good place to start. However, if you have your sights set on a more senior or niche role, it can pay to investigate smaller agencies that are more specific to your sector.
Consultants that work for large generic recruitment agencies will be working at a fast pace and at high volume - so they could potentially get you a lot of interviews. However, they are generally going to focus on easy to place candidates and may not take the time to see your potential or understand the nuances of your experience.
A more boutique recruitment firm will take a more considered approach, and will therefore see that (despite the potential visa related hurdles) you could be the best person for the job. They are also more likely to have a strong personal relationship with hiring managers and therefore hold bigger influence on who gets the coveted interview spot. When you aren’t able to be here in person, you want to know someone credible and trusted is representing you and will be fighting your corner.
If you’re looking for a legal position, reach out to companies such as SSQ, and for Insurance, Bolton Associates is a long standing and well respected recruiter in the market. For more creative industries, Aquent are a brilliant recruiter for marketing or digital roles.
A good recruitment consultant will also have the inside scoop on which companies are looking to hire, the shape of the market and, crucially, which businesses are likely sponsor visas - all invaluable information for your international job search.
The dreaded V word that strikes fear in to the heart of any potential expat. It’s true that securing a visa to work in the UK is harder than in some other countries, but it doesn’t have to be a roadblock on your journey to living in London - you just have to get organised.
Show employers that you have a clear plan in place for your Visa application, and it will not only make the process more efficient but will also show them you’re serious about your move.
For EU citizens, you don’t need a Visa to work in the UK (for now…) so you should be able to make your move without too much hassle. Obviously it’s worth researching how Brexit could impact this moving forward.
If you’re from Australia, Canada, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Republic of Korea or Taiwan and under 30 years old, you may be eligible for a Tier 5 Mobility Visa. This allows you to work in the UK for 2 years and is much cheaper and less complicated to get your hands on than a normal work visa.
For everyone else, there are four tiers of work visas you can get in London:
- General, skilled worker visa
- Intra-company transfer visa
- Sportsperson visa
- Minister of religion visa.
For more information about Visa costs, read our blog full of advice about moving to London.
Making your move
You’ve virtually networked like a pro and nailed your video interview, securing a new job and the all important Visa. You’re almost ready to make your move to the most multicultural, exciting city in the world!
When looking for somewhere to live in London you’ll want to take a few things into consideration. Firstly, where is your office based and how long do you want your commute to be? The public transport system in London is brilliant but if you’re office is in Wimbledon and your flat share is in Crouch End, you’re going to be spending a lot of time on the tube travelling from North to South London everyday.
Secondly, what sort of area will suit your lifestyle? There are so many options, and figuring out the best place to live in London can be a task in itself. If you like vintage stores and a buzzing nightlife, Dalston could work for you. Or if you’re sporty, maybe you’d like Stratford, where the 2012 Olympics have left a legacy of brilliant sporting facilities.
And thirdly, who do you want to live with? A bad flat mate can totally ruin your London experience, but find some good ones and you’ll have a buzzing social circle and potentially friends for life.
The pressures of finding a new home, and all the admin that comes with it, can add unnecessary stress to your move, but Lyvly can take all of that off your hands. We provide a high spec furnished property, with bills and vetted flatmates included, so you can focus on starting your new life in London, minus the hassle.