United Kingdom - why work abroad?

Official languages: English
Government: Constitutional monarchy
Population: 63.2 million
Capital: London
Currency: Pound sterling
Member EU or EEA: EU
Phone code: +44
Internet code: .uk

Why this country?

The United Kingdom has one of the world's largest economies. The service sector accounts for over 70 % of GDP and, although manufacturing of the automotive, aerospace and pharmaceutical sectors remain significant.

The global downturn and high government debt have squeezed public finances, with significant job losses in both public and private sectors. Nevertheless, engineers for the automotive, electricity and green industries; engineers and technicians for the energy sector; chefs in Japanese, Thai and Asian cuisine; hospital consultants and operating-theatre nurses; certain IT professionals; and heavy goods vehicle, bus and coach drivers are still in demand. The care sector has unfilled vacancies for care workers and there is a shortage of social workers specialised in children and family work.

Looking for work?

Most employers advertise vacancies on their company website or on recruitment web­sites such as Monster or fish4jobs. Recruit­ment agencies such as Adecco and Reed are also commonly used. Vacancies can also be found on the government website http://www.gov.uk and on the EURES portal. Some high- skilled jobs are advertised in national newspa­pers such as The Guardian and The Times. In some industries, such as construction and horti­culture, vacancies are often advertised by word of mouth.

Tips for job applications?

The rule is to follow instructions closely. The employer may provide a phone number or e-mail address for you to obtain more infor­mation about the vacancy. Do not use this first contact as an opportunity to present yourself if this has not been requested.

It is quite common for employers to accept a limited number of applications, and to close the vacancy once that number has been reached, so make sure your application is sent in good time, and always before the closing date.

When completing an application form, be sure to save it and send it in a compatible file for­mat. Include the vacancy reference number and proofread the form carefully. Spell-check the form using a British rather than an American dictionary and pay close attention to grammar and sentence structure.

If the application procedure calls for a CV and a covering letter, keep the letter brief (one side of an A4 paper) and factual. Say why you are writing in the first paragraph; give details of your suitable skills and experience in the sec­ond paragraph; give your availability for an interview in the third paragraph and any other important details about existing commitments; finish with a short sentence to say that you are looking forward to their reply. Try to include key words from the advertisement in your application.

Is it standard to include a photo on the CV?

No, neither should your date of birth be included.

Is there a preference for handwritten applications?

No, handwritten applications should be avoided unless they are requested in the advertisement.

Is the Europass format CV widely used and accepted?

The Europass CV is not normally recognised by British employers. Several websites give good advice on completing CVs for the British job market, including the National Careers Service, Prospects AC and Monster.

Making contact by phone

Only make telephone contact if requested to do so and after identifying that you have the skills and experience that the employer is looking for. Some employers may conduct a preliminary interview by telephone. If this is the case, the employer will call you at a pre-arranged time. Prepare for a telephone interview as thoroughly as you would a face-to-face interview.

Do I need to send diplomas with my application?

No, these will normally be requested at a later stage.

Should I supply references, letters of recommendation or proof of good conduct?

Referee contact details should be supplied on the application form or listed on your CV. The employer will check the information you have provided with your referee. It is best to use your most recent employer, but make sure he/she can respond in English. Letters of recommendation are usually not needed.

Jobs in the security industry or with vulnerable people (children/elderly people) will require proof that you do not have previous criminal convictions (Disclosing and Barring Service check).

Usual length of time between publication of the vacancy and start of the job

This is typically 4 to 6 weeks.

Preparing for the interview

Recruiters expect applicants to be available for interview at short notice. They will expect the applicant to be motivated and to have good enough English to enable effective communi­cation (with the exception of some low-skilled jobs, for example fruit picking, where the inter­view may be conducted in the applicant's native language, particularly if it takes place in their own country). Applicants should be polite, punctual, smartly presented and capable of expressing themselves clearly.

Employers and recruiters have a legal require­ment to check the identity of every applicant before they are offered a job. The applicant must bring their original passport or national identity card to the interview to prove that they are an EEA (or Swiss) national or family member.

Dress-code tips

Business dress (a suit) is recommended. Men should wear a tie. Women should wear only modest amounts of make-up and jewellery. Whatever you wear, your clothes should be clean and well pressed.

Who will be there?

Interviews are usually led by two to three panel members, including the line manager for the vacant post and a representative from HR.

Do we shake hands?

It is normal to shake hands with the members of the interviewing panel.

Is there a typical interview structure?

The atmosphere is formal but friendly. The can­didate should be attentive, responsive and pos­itive about their application. He/she should try to relax and answer the questions confidently and as fully as possible.

The employer will be looking for examples that demonstrate the applicant's competencies to do the job. Punctuality, presentation and moti­vation are also important factors.

Usually only one round of interviews is carried out, sometimes with an accompanying test to gauge the applicant's technical abilities and problem-solving skills. The interview is usually 30-40 minutes maximum. Tests are 20-30 minutes. The applicant's presentation, pos­ture and attentiveness may not be scored, but they will create an impression and are there­fore important.

Because the emphasis is on competence and matching the job profile there is very little, if any, discussion on non-professional subjects. The motivation should be clear from the appli­cation form or from answers given to the inter­viewers' questions. You do not have to give details of your interests outside work unless you are using these as examples of your abil­ity to do a task in reply to one of the questions.

Common questions include asking the can­didate to give examples of when he/she has been in a particular situation and how he/she dealt with it. You may be asked to give exam­ples of a time when something has gone wrong and what you did to put it right or to describe your weaknesses. In this case, show that you are aware of how to deal with your weakness.

Towards the end of the interview, you will be asked if you have any questions. Prepare one or two questions in advance, for example you may want to ask about opportunities for pro­gression within the company or what types of training the company offers.

When is a question out of bounds?

Employers cannot discriminate on grounds of gender, race, disability, religion, sexual orientation or age. Employers and recruiters are responsible for ensuring that their questions are non-discriminatory and will not ask you to disclose information about private matters unrelated to work. You may, however, have to disclose information about any previous conviction for a criminal offence.

Negotiating your pay and benefits

It is unlikely that there is any flexibility with the employer's terms and conditions unless stated in the vacancy advert. The best attitude is to place trust in the employer's offer and to only apply for jobs that offer satisfactory pay and working conditions.

Contract negotiations mostly apply to highly skilled and highly paid jobs. The applicant will need to justify his/her salary demands by demonstrating that they are in accordance with market rates and their skills and experience. You can ask for a pay rise after working for a com­pany for a while, if your pay appears to be out of line with employees doing similar work. You will normally have an annual pay review. Hol­iday pay is included and remuneration is usu­ally expressed as an annual gross salary. Trade jobs, e.g. carpenters and bricklayers, often show wages as hourly.

The most common non-statutory benefits are: flexible working arrangements; private health­care or healthcare insurance; subsidised travel; London weighting (extra pay if working in the capital compared to the national average); use of a company car; subsidised meals at an office canteen; subsidised membership of a gym or club; pay bonuses.

Is a trial period likely?

Work trials are not common. It is more likely that you will work for a trial period, after which your pay rises to the full rate.

How long is the standard probationary period?

Between 3 and 6 months.

Will the employer cover my costs for attending an interview?

No, not usually.

When will I hear the result?

If you reached the interview stage, employers and recruiters will confirm whether or not you are being offered the job, usually within 1 to 3 weeks of the interview.

Getting feedback and further follow-up

If you are unsuccessful, you may receive feed-back on your performance at the interview when you are notified in writing. Otherwise you can call or write to the employer to request feedback on your interview.

How early should I arrive for the interview?

You should arrive 15-20 minutes before the interview. Expect the employer to be punctual.

last modification: 2014-09-04
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