Is It Hard To Find Work In London?

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Something I see often on travel and expat forums is people stressing out, the common concern is clear: “But what if I get to London and cannot find work!”

Although this worry is totally understandable, it’s unlikely to be a real issue for many people. As long as their savvy, able to find work in their own countries and are willing to be a bit creative when the chips are low, finding work in London shouldn’t be a real concern.

The last time I was in London I had three job offers in as many days (and I wasn’t even living there!) of course, these were not high paying jobs and I would have needed to find something else eventually had I of chosen to live in London but the point is that in London, “Survival jobs” are abound if one cannot find the job in the industry they wish to work in.

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The three jobs I was offered were one in a restaurant, one in a bar and one in retail. Of course, two of the jobs paid slightly above minimum wage and the third was below minimum wage however, if one was in debt when they moved to London (as many backpackers are by the time they reach the “London stop”) or needed to find a job quickly they could quite easily find work.

Now let’s talk about those coveted professional job’s most people would prefer to be working with their higher pay and more sociable hours. How does one get one with as little stress as possible? Here’s a short, four-point strategy to keep in mind:

#1: What work will you do? “Anything” is not an answer!

It’s okay to have a fall-back (aforementioned survival job) in case your professional ambitions take some time to take off in the new city (let’s be honest, employers seeking a professional workforce have turn-arounds of something like 4-6 weeks between sending your application in and your start date and not everyone can afford to spend that time in their new flat on the couch). However, having some direction is important for when those opportunities do come up. Going to London and knowing you want to use your marketing degree gives you something to aim for when you are applying online or through agencies for positions and when you are in your survival job in the pub when a marketing executive comes in for a pint, you can smile and ask questions that may bring up leads (just don’t do this in front of your boss, okay?)

One must have a direction, or no tree shall be climbed...

One must have a direction, or no tree shall be climbed…

#2 Get your resume London-ready before leaving home

I love writing but even I cannot stand resume writing and when you must have a copy of your resume for each job type (ie. Your survival job AND your professional job) it’s all the more annoying. Before I land in London I will have a science resume, a hospitality resume and a nanny/babysitting resume. Different countries have different resume templates and it’s best to make sure your resume matches that of the country you’re moving to.

#3 Have a pre-London-arrival and post-London-arrival strategy

So you know you’re amazing and any employer should be happy to have you but, maybe you’re a week away from flying out and too busy with preparations for the new city to keep applying for jobs? That’s okay because you have a bunch of number’s to call once you’ve arrived, a killer strategy for hiding the jet-lag induced bags under your eyes and are perfectly willing to ask anyone – even the owner of the curry house where you have your first London lunch – about work opportunities. Having some sort of plan for “if I don’t find work from home” is positive and will help you far more than if you never let yourself have one.

#4 Consider agencies

Employment agencies are a big deal in the UK. Many professionals, both local and expat’s find their work through them and often they will be working within forty-eight hours of arriving in London (crazy, right?). The best way I’ve found to register with UK employment agencies is through Agency Central

No idea what this building is, but know that no-one working minimum wage is living here, or driving that car...

No idea what this building is, but know that no-one working minimum wage is living here, or driving that car…

Moving to a new city will never be easy however, when one considers the transient nature of mega-cities like London’s population the well-worn path of people before you does make it appear easier to make this work than it sometimes feels like when you’re receiving rejection letters. Chin up, it’s all part of the experience and this is a great “coming of age” experience for many young Kiwi’s, Aussies and Canadian’s for a very long time.

Travelers: Tablets vs. Readers

Last week I spoke about travel gadgets that make travel easier but didn’t talk about two very popular travel gadgets, tablets and ereaders on purpose as I wanted to dedicate more space to this so I can go more in-depth than I could in a general post.

Personally I’ve travelled with my laptop, tablet and ereader (not all at the same time) and have found that it really depends on what I am hoping to get out of the trip and how much time I think I will actually be spending on each device.

Before I launch into the pro’s and con’s of each, it’s important to note that I’m not too much of a tech head. To give some perspective: I do run my own website which I built entirely on my own however, I don’t know what type of computer I’m currently typing this on. I know it’s a laptop and I know it’s black, that’s about it. If you want expert advice on the most modern tech, this isn’t the space for it. For general pro’s and con’s however:

Things you can never leave home without! ... Or not?

Things you can never leave home without! … Or not?

Tablets

Pro’s over an ereader

  • Can do more – tired of reading War and Peace? You can switch to facebook and chat to your friends or play candy crush.
  • Pictures – my ereader’s getting old and pictures (for books that have them) don’t show up whereas in the tablet they do, which is great.
  • Doubles as a camera – not always appropriate having someone hold up their tablet in public but is great for when you want great shots you can enjoy right away and upload everywhere.
  • Take your work with you – digital nomad or workaholic, you can work on the go with a tablet, something you cannot do with an ereader.

Ereaders

Pro’s over a tablet

  • Price – these are cheaper to buy outright (usually no more than $150 to tablets that can easily be over $500)
  • Less likely to be stolen – sadly, I’ve seen those people in hostels who look longingly at others’ belongings as if they would prefer they were theirs, to date however, I’ve never seen anyone look twice at an old kindle.
  • Better battery life – I had an ipad for an old job of mine which would need to be charged all the time however, my little reader if it’s not being used lasts for months. If it is being used it lasts for less but still I have plenty of warning before I have to charge it.
  • Easier to fall off the grid – I know plenty of travellers who hate tech because it keeps them (they feel) tethered to home. They know if they have more ease of communication with loved ones back home, they are less likely to immerse themselves in the culture they’ve come to experience so they prefer to use tech that isn’t linked to their facebook accounts.

Keeping your tech safe

A quick note on keeping your tech safe – when you check into a hostel/hotel ensure there is a locker or somewhere to put your tech (and moneybelt, etc.) before you take it out of your bag so others’ don’t see it then see you slip it back into your easy-to-steal bag. It’s also a great idea to not flash your tech around too much in countries where theft and mugging is common. All someone needs is to see your valuables and follow you when you wonder off on your own to use a bathroom for example.

I had plenty of tech with me in South and Central America and I was really weary of it to the point where I wouldn’t take it out or even reference it in conversation with other travellers. Although this may sound a bit over-the-top it’s better to be safe than sorry.

How about you? Do you travel with a tablet on a ereader? Why/why not?