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Work in the UK

Working abroad sounds like an adventure to many people. However, it requires thorough preparation, starting with a successful application. Expertise in Labour Mobility has prepared a set of country guides describing the main routes to employment in 31 countries. This is a brief abstract of the Looking for work in the United Kingdom guide, highlighting the main focus points. For more detailed information, consult the full guide on the United Kingdom.

Work permits in the UK

  • EEA citizens are free to move and work wherever they want to, within the EEA (including the UK).
  • You must apply for a residence permit. This is valid for five years and should be issued within six months of your arrival.
  • Contact the British embassy in your home country for more information.

The application procedure in the UK

  • Careers advisory services are well-established at all British universities.
  • Speculative applications in Britain are only worth the effort if well researched in advance.
  • Realise the importance of language skills. Having a social conversation is very different from a business negotiation.

Writing a CV in the UK

  • The key focus of your CV should be to persuade the employer to invite you for an interview. Therefore your CV is a marketing tool, which should be adapted to the market in which you intend to use it.
  • The British CV is short, a maximum of two pages in length.
  • UK companies generally attach less importance to someone's marital status then in most Continental European countries.
  • It is common in the UK to give the contact details of two references at the end of the CV.
  • Use either a reversed chronological or a functional format for your CV.

The application letter in the UK

  • Explain why you are the right candidate for the job.
  • Illustrate your skills with examples.
  • In the UK, if the addressee is unknown to you, start with "Dear sir/madam" and end with "Yours faithfully".
  • If you do know the name start with "Dear Mr/Ms X" and end with "Yours sincerely".
  • Many companies in the United Kingdom use application forms instead of letters.

Do's & Don'ts in the United Kingdom

  • Use power words in an application in the UK.
  • Add extra-curricular activities, hobbies and sports in your CV.
  • Look interested – ask questions.
  • Provide examples to prove your achievements.
  • Ask for clarification if you don’t understand the question.
  • Be prepared for an assessment centre.
  • Act like a leader when you are not!
  • Add a reference without telling this person.
  • Overestimate your qualities, the British are modest people.
  • Sit until invited in an interview.
  • Criticise former employers.
  • Go over the top — stay calm and stick to the facts.

Management culture in the United Kingdom

  • The traditional British organisational structure is a pyramid, consisting of many layers and a strong vertical hierarchy.
  • It is important that employers are fair and just and that they have a good relationship with their employees.
  • Meetings are a very important management instrument. All important decisions will be brought up, discussed, negotiated and passed through during the meeting.
  • At meetings, British people are always on time. However in social life, they are almost always ten minutes late.
  • Humour is very important, humour is present on every level and on almost every occasion.

For more information on employment in the UK, order the Looking for work in the United Kingdom guide, one of 28 Expertise in Labour Mobility Looking for work in guides. It's all you need to make that first successful step abroad!


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