How to Find a Job in the U.K.

Last updated on May 27th, 2024 at 03:41 pm

How to Find a Job in the UK The U.K. is a highly attractive prospect for people looking to forge a new career in a new country. If you’re trying to find a job in the U.K., bustling cities like London, Birmingham, and Manchester come with a plethora of opportunities. Smaller towns and villages can also offer long-term prospects and a more relaxed pace of living.

In this Remitly guide, we explore the best pathways to find a job in the U.K.

Quick tips for your U.K. job search

  • Determine which work visa you need and ensure you meet the requirements.
  • Broaden your job search by visiting online job boards, company websites, and social media to learn about open positions in the U.K.
  • Network with other expats to learn about potential job opportunities you might not see posted online.
  • Use a recruitment agency to help you find a job, prepare for interviews, and better understand the U.K. job search and application process.
  • Consider other avenues that can get you working in the U.K., such as a company transfer or graduate program.
  • Create a strong CV and cover letter that accurately reflects your relevant skills and qualifications for each job.

Work visa requirements

Before finding a job, make sure to obtain a work visa so you can work in the U.K. legally. Several long-term work visas are available for foreign nationals looking to settle in the U.K., such as:

  • Skilled Worker visa
  • Health and Care Worker visa
  • International Sportsperson visa
  • Startup visa
  • Global Talent visa

The precise criteria differ from visa to visa. For example, the Skilled Worker visa requires you to secure a job with an employer approved by the U.K. Home Office. Meanwhile, the Health Worker visa is for a medical or adult social care professional who wants to work with the National Health Service (NHS) or in adult social care.

You can see the most up-to-date eligibility requirements for all U.K. work visas here. As you job hunt, ensure that any role you want to pursue meets these requirements.

You may also have to update your visa if you change your job or employer while in the U.K.

Job seekers generally can’t apply for a work visa. In most cases, approved U.K. employers must sponsor work visa applications. This means you need to obtain an employment contract or job offer letter before you begin the application process.

Job searching online

The internet provides numerous channels for finding a job in the U.K., such as the government’s Find a Job site. Operated by the U.K. government, this site helps you find jobs across several industries in England, Scotland, and Wales.

If you’re based in or relocating to Northern Ireland, the relevant government-run directory is JobApplyNI.

Other general job search portals include:

  • Indeed
  • Reed
  • Monster
  • Totaljobs

There are also job search sites for specific industries. For example, if you’re a health professional like a qualified doctor or nurse, you can review the latest job openings with the NHS at NHS Jobs.

Since you’ll likely face competition for every job vacancy, make sure to read the job description thoroughly. Review information such as the following:

  • The kind of experience and skill set the employer seeks so you know what to emphasize in your application
  • What the application process entails, such as signing into an online portal or emailing an application
  • The closing date for applications

Social media

Social media can be a great way for both unskilled and skilled workers to find jobs. LinkedIn, a professional social media site, is one of the best sites for exploring job opportunities.

Many employers like to see that candidates have a fully completed LinkedIn profile. As a result, it’s important to keep your profile updated with the latest information regarding your previous job roles and qualifications. It’s even better to include testimonials from colleagues and a friendly yet professional photo.

When looking for a job in the U.K., update your social media profiles accordingly. Saying that you’re looking for work in the U.K. can encourage employers from the area to contact you.

In addition, consider connecting with hiring managers online. Send an introductory message that says you’re searching for a job in the U.K. and ask about openings.

Networking with other expats

Networking is another way to learn about job vacancies. Having U.K. contacts can help you discover jobs you may never have heard of otherwise.

Consider joining Facebook groups and subreddits for expats living in the U.K. Inquire about where people found U.K. jobs and ask if there are any openings at the places where they currently work.

Recruitment agencies

Rather than applying to U.K. jobs directly, consider joining a recruitment agency that acts as an intermediary between you and potential employers.

Recruiters can guide you through the process, which can be useful if you’re new to the U.K. job market. They can prepare you for interviews, negotiate better salaries, and give you insights into what employers expect.

If you don’t get past a particular interview, the agency may be able to relay constructive feedback so you can improve.

There are countless recruitment agencies in the U.K., many of which specialize in particular fields like healthcare, tech, and engineering. If you have an industry in mind, it may be worth contacting the relevant agencies.

Best Way to Find a Job in the UK

Company transfers

What if you’re not looking for a new job but want to transfer to your employer’s U.K. branch? The good news is that there’s a designated pathway for this scenario via the Senior or Specialist Worker visa.

This visa has some strict requirements, though. For example, the Home Office must approve global American companies and other international employers, and your job must be on the government’s list of eligible occupations. The job’s salary must also be at least £42,400 per year. Review a full breakdown of stipulations and timeframes for this visa here.

Graduate programs

Many larger U.K. companies run special graduate training programs for students obtaining a university degree. While these programs typically last for up to two years, some may span up to five years or for shorter periods like six months.

Graduate programs allow you to gain insights into the company, develop skills, and receive mentoring. Although these are entry-level positions by definition, they can potentially put you on the fast track to more senior roles.

Many types of organizations offer graduate programs. These can include law firms, investment banks, consulting firms, and retail giants.

Competition is fierce since graduate programs often come with generous salaries and can kickstart lifelong careers. Different companies accept applications at different points in the year, so stay in the loop. Consider following companies you’re interested in on social media to be aware of relevant announcements.

Before you apply for a program, research the company thoroughly so you can demonstrate your interest properly during the interview. Remember to check if the role in question is eligible for a U.K. work or graduate visa since not all graduate programs allow applications from foreigners.

U.K. company websites

Another way to find a job in the U.K. is to complete an application or information request directly through employer websites.

Many company websites include information about specific job opportunities. In many cases, these job postings are highly detailed, providing full descriptions, minimum salary details, and information on whether the employer can sponsor work visas.

If you have experience working in a particular industry, research top U.K. employers in that field and visit their websites to learn about relevant job openings.

Refine your CV and cover letter

Once you find an open position you qualify for, focus on making a strong impression through your CV and cover letter.

Cover letters for U.K. job applications

Whether you’re applying through third-party job sites, government sites, or directly through company sites, you often need to submit a cover letter that introduces you to employers.

Here are some cover letter tips to keep in mind:

Be concise

Write a short cover letter that gets to the point. Aim to have four paragraphs.

Start with an opening statement that mentions the position you’re pursuing. In the second paragraph, highlight your experience as it relates to the position and discuss any skills and qualifications that make you the best candidate for the job.

In the third paragraph, explain why you want to work for the company. Do your research and mention a few of the key features that appeal to you. Consider how you can help their organization.

Finally, conclude with a paragraph stating your interest in the position and your hope to schedule an interview.

Use a polite greeting

Whenever possible, start your cover letter with “Dear [person’s name].”

If you don’t know the contact name for the hiring manager, “Dear hiring manager” or “Dear human resources director” can be good substitutes.

Finish with a strong closing

When concluding your letter, use a professional closing like “Thank you,” “Yours sincerely,” or “Best regards.”

Customize each letter

Many people interested in working in the U.K. apply for several or even dozens of jobs. While that’s perfectly fine, you never want an employer to feel like your cover letter is a form you’ve sent to many other companies.

Take the time to personalize each letter you send to make the best possible impression.

CVs for U.K. job applications

It’s vital that your resume, also known as a CV in the U.K., accurately describes your qualifications.

Make sure it’s updated with your previous and most relevant roles and academic qualifications. Ensure it’s also well-written and well-presented. Here are some CV tips to keep in mind:

Use free tools

Use free CV builders online to automatically structure your information in a clean and organized template.

Consider hiring a pro

You can also hire professional CV writers and editors. Hiring a pro can be a smart solution if English isn’t your first language and you want to ensure your CV is grammatically correct.

Tailor to the description

As with your cover letter, tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for.

Place your most relevant experience, education, skills, and qualifications higher on the page for better visibility.

One way to highlight the most important information is to place a bulleted summary of your top qualifications at the top of your CV.

Employ keywords

Many employers use AI to scan CVs and create a shortlist of candidates. Most programs identify promising CVs by looking for particular keywords.

If your CV has the right terms, the chances of being contacted for an interview increase dramatically.

Although there’s no way to know for sure what keywords an AI program may be targeting, the job description can provide some clues.

For example, if the description says “a baccalaureate degree” rather than a bachelor’s degree, you may want to include that specific term on your CV.

Here’s another example: Say the employer in the description is “looking for a team-oriented salesperson,” and your CV says that you were previously a “sales associate” and that you have “teamwork skills.”

Modifying the language in your CV to “salesperson” and “team-oriented” may make your resume more AI-friendly.

FAQs about jobs in the U.K.

Now that you know more about conducting your job search, you may still have questions about working in the U.K. Here are some answers to common questions about jobs in the U.K.:

Do I need a U.K. bank account to work in the U.K.?

Many jobs in the U.K. pay via direct deposit, and having a U.K. bank account allows you to access your funds more quickly. Without a bank account, you’ll need to find somewhere to cash paper checks, which can be difficult. Plus, you may have to pay service fees.

Can you work in the U.K. on a U.K. student visa?

Yes, in most cases, people in the U.K. on a student visa can work part-time jobs. Usually, the maximum number of hours students can work per week is 20.

What is the current job market like in the U.K.?

The U.K. economy goes through cycles with unemployment rising and falling in response to economic conditions. From May to July 2023, 4.3% of the UK population aged 16 years and older was unemployed, which is relatively low. This suggests that it may be relatively easy to find a job with a U.K. company.

If I work for a U.K. employer, will I get healthcare coverage?

Yes, people who work in the U.K. can apply for a National Insurance number and receive care through the NHS. In some cases, people looking for work in the U.K. are also eligible. You can learn more about National Insurance number eligibility here.

Can international students work summer jobs in the U.K.?

Yes, people from certain countries who meet the age requirements established by the British government can travel to the U.K. as tourists and work a summer job through the Youth Mobility Scheme. You can learn more about the program here.

Can you move to the U.K. and be self-employed or own your own business?

In some cases, the U.K. grants a visa for those seeking self-employment or planning to open a startup in the country. The Innovator Founder visa program allows entrepreneurs with unique ideas to relocate to the U.K. You can learn about eligibility requirements here.

Is there a national minimum wage in the U.K.?

Yes, there’s a national minimum wage in the U.K., but the minimum salary can change over time. As of April 2024, the U.K.’s National Living Wage for people aged 21 and over is £11.44 per hour.

What are the language requirements for working in the U.K.?

How fluent you need to be in English to find a job in the U.K. depends on the particular sector you plan to work in and what type of position you’re applying for. However, you typically need to be able to speak, read, and write English proficiently.

Can you work in the U.K. on a tourist visa?

No, the U.K. visa for tourism doesn’t provide the right to perform paid or unpaid work for U.K. companies. Self-employed individuals may also not work in the U.K. if they’re in the country on a visitor visa.

What’s the difference between part-time and full-time workers in the U.K.?

In the U.K., there’s no legal minimum number of hours for full-time workers, so the difference between full- and part-time varies from employer to employer.

Generally, most full-time employees work 35 hours or more, while part-time employees usually work fewer than 35 hours per week.

Does a citizen from a European Union country need a work visa?

Whether or not European Union citizens need a work visa in the U.K. varies. You’ll likely need a visa if you’re from an EU member state and plan to work in the U.K. for more than six months. Click here to learn more.

Can you become a British citizen after working in the U.K. on a work visa?

In some cases, working in the U.K. can be a path to citizenship. If you obtain an indefinite leave to remain certified after obtaining a visa, working in the country for at least three years, and meeting other eligibility requirements, you may be able to apply for citizenship. Visit the British citizenship website to learn more.

Managing your salary in the U.K.

Once you complete your job hunt, secure your job, and earn wages in the U.K., you’re subject to income tax. While it’s not the most exciting aspect of beginning a new life abroad, it’s important to understand how it works.

To make life a bit easier, we’ve provided a quick guide to filing taxes in the U.K. and smart tips for managing your money in the country.

The Remitly app can be handy if you intend to use some of your salary to support loved ones financially. We take the hassle out of sending money back to your home country, providing a quick, cost-effective remittance service. Download the app today to get started.