Thursday, January 19, 2012

Moving to the UK: Applying to Jobs in the UK

Originally, this last post in the Moving to the UK for Work series was supposed to be about workplace culture, but we're actually going to do something a bit different: today I want to share a couple of pointers that will, hopefully, help you successfully apply for jobs in the UK.  Believe it or not, the process is a bit different than what I was used to in the US.

So you found a job that you want to apply for - congratulations, that's a big step!  The first and most important thing you need to do is to update your CV (also known as your resume).  Be confident that your current or most recent position is included, and be sure to add any new skills you might have learned since you last applied for a job.

British CVs are styled slightly differently from American resumes; the most notable difference is that British CVs include a narrative that I think most American career advisors would suggest be saved for a cover letter.  To be honest, though, I never received any negative feedback after submitting my American resume to an English organization, so I think you'll be okay regardless.  If you want some guidance on how they do it in the UK, though, read this BBC article and this DWP write-up.

Another thing to be aware of is this: the timeframe for filling an open position is much faster in the UK than what I was used to in the States.  I have found that jobs are advertised for the same length of time, but things move very quickly once the deadline has passed.  For instance, I once applied for a job in London and where the due date for materials was a Friday; I was called to interview on the following Monday morning, the second round interview was on the same Wednesday, and I was offered the position on the Monday after that.  I have never heard of this speed in America!  Keep this in mind when applying for jobs in the UK in case scheduling might be an issue - and, if you're not in the area yourself, remember that you might have to travel if you get shortlisted.  I found that most companies didn't mind our first interview being over the phone, but they did say that they would want to meet me in person before hiring me.

My last piece of advice when applying for jobs - in the UK or otherwise - is that you should dream big. If you're not enthused about your career path so far, think about moving in a different direction; if you have the time to volunteer, explore other options; if you want to move up the ladder, research the best ways to make yourself as marketable as possible.  And, if you are currently unemployed, take advantage of the time you have to really be thorough and to think about what's best for you.

Good luck!

And also - I'd love to hear what you've noticed about differences in workplace culture between the US and the UK.  Email me with your observations at betsytransatlantically[at]gmail[dot]com and I'll put all of our thoughts together for a post next week.  Thanks!

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