10 min

How to find a job in the UK. An HR advice

Maria Ryabukhina, leading recruiter of a British financial technology company Revolut, told StudyFree where to look for a job in the UK, and how to stand out against hundreds of job applications.

What is special about the British employment market?

The British market, as well as the European market as a whole, is not a fast one. For example, in the US, employees usually give two weeks’ notices to their employer, but in the UK this term is usually one to three months, and in some cases - even half a year, depending on their role and the company.

Expect to spend at least two months searching for a job. Usually it takes even longer, depending on the market conditions, your profile specifics, and the company you apply to. In major companies, the hiring process comprises 7-8 interviews, and may take up to half a year.

The general rule is that the end of July and August, as well as the second half of November and December, are the slowest months: many employees are on vacations, so the interviews are often postponed, lengthening the overall hiring process. Bear that in mind if you are in active pursuit of a job, and the time is pressing.

How the pandemic affected the British job market?

During 2020, many companies put their hiring routine on hold, but in the end of the year and the beginning of 2021, many started opening their positions again. Judging by LinkedIn and the number of available vacancies, the market starts to thaw.

There are special programs aimed at fresh graduates: you may find them at Gratuateland service and on the web sites of the companies you contemplate joining. In general, the industry the pandemic hit hardest, both in Britain and globally, was HoReCa. Conversely, tech companies keep actively hiring new employees.

What are the best job sites in the UK?

I recommend using Glassdoor, a job search service. Here you may hit upon a vacancy not available at LinkedIn. On of the most popular features of Glassdoor is company reviews published by its current and former employees.

Taking note of the company rating, and reading the reviews will allow you to form an informed opinion about the company and its culture. Browsing the site, you will undoubtedly think of questions to ask the hiring manager or recruiter at the upcoming interview.

On LinkedIn, you may also get info on a company and find open positions. This is the next best resource for preparing for an interview after the web site of your target company itself. Reading  LinkedIn blogs may often help you comprehend the scale of the company and grasp the structure of the department you aim to join.

The main purpose of LinkedIn is networking. If you are in active search of a job, I recommend you get a premium account and engage closely with recruiters of the companies you may want to join. If you see an open position, look for an HR or supposed hiring manager (for example, head of the department), and write a short message describing why you are interested in this position, and how would you address the issues their business faces.

The worst that may happen is that you will get no answer at all or a “Sorry, we’re not interested” message. But enhancing your range of contacts is a long-term advantage in itself. Next time they need a new employee, they may remember you and contact you directly. I had that happen to me.

Any open position means that a company wants to solve a particular business problem by utilizing a suitable specialist. Your goal is to identify this problem using the position description and company research, and to recommend yourself as a best solution to it.

You may also try (job search service, dealing mostly with startups), Indeed (very similar to, and National Careers Service website, where you may find useful information, recommendations, and advice about searching for a job in the UK.

Does networking pay off in the UK?

It most certainly does: once, when in search of employment, I wrote to a person I met a couple of times in the course of my then-current job. This person invited me to an interview, described the scope of work, we discussed the most important issues, and, ultimately, I was hired.

Most companies, and Revolut is not an exception here, introduce referral programs: an employee receives a bonus for bringing a friend or acquaintance into the company. HR managers have bonuses, too, that may run to a thousand dollars in a recruitment agency. When you tell a recruiter you are not interested in their offer, you may often receive “Recommend a candidate and receive a bonus from our agency!” in response.

What do recruiters pay attention to? How to stand out against hundreds of applications?

Your main goal as a candidate is to identify the main problem that the company aims to solve by hiring a new employee. You shouldn’t send the same resume for all similar openings. At least 80% of your CV should match the particular job description, so a “one-size-fits-all” CV is suitable only for starting positions.

Focus on your results and achievements, and not on your duties. Nobody is interested in what you were doing: the important thing is, what your company gained through your efforts.

In many companies, you have to fill in a form when submitting an application. Pay close attention to the mandatory fields of the form: most probably, these are the parameters by which the CVs are filtered and archived automatically.

For example, if you answer “No” to a question “Do you have a UK work permit?”, there is a distinct risk that your CV will be automatically sent to archive, and the recruiter will not even have a look at it. This may be the case with any questions on the application form.

What should and shouldn’t be in your resume?

It pays to learn about the CV types - chronological, functional, and mixed type - and choose one that you like and that suits your particular situation.

A chronologically ordered CV is the most common. It is best for candidates who do not have any gaps in their professional track. The most obvious example of such a CV is your LinkedIn profile, where correct order is of utmost importance. A functional resume is not arranged by the timeline of your work experience, but built around the skills you wield. The mixed type is most flexible and in-depth: you follow the chronological pattern, but focus on your skills and achievements. I recommend you learn about all three types and choose the one that suits you the most.

Your resume should include your full name, location (city), contact information (e-mail and phone), and, preferably, links to relevant resources - first of all, LinkedIn. Web developers may also reference their profile at GitHub (a web service for IT projects hosting), designers and illustrators should include a link to their portfolio. Date of birth, marital status, and the number of children usually are not usually shown on the resume. Also, try to avoid using cliches, like “communication skills”, “ability to work under pressure”, or“out-of-the-box thinking”.

A photo is purely optional. The simpler your CV is, the better: if it has a photo - it’s good, if it doesn’t  - no biggie.

Your resume should be “clear”: don’t overload it with colors and diagrams. Use bold text for keywords. It usually takes a recruiter 15-20 seconds to make a decision. Your task is to help them realise at first glance that you suit the position perfectly.

You may submit your CV in PDF (preferably) or doc. formats. The volume should not exceed 1-3 pages, even if you have 7-10 years of experience under your belt. This is a perfect situation to adhere to a well-known principle: “less is more”.

Recommendations for searching for a job in the UK 

Create a LinkedIn profile. Perfect it: make it become your best selling CV.

Make good use of social networks. Search for useful contacts, research companies. Write messages to recruiters, they won’t bite you: instead, they can easily refer you to other managers, or give some valuable advice. Search for “relevant” people: if you are a lawyer or a financial expert, you will be most likely ignored by an IT recruiter aimed at hiring technical specialists. 

Prepare for an interview. Research the company you plan to apply to. 99 times out of 100, you will be asked what you know about the company, and why you chose this particular position. You will look bad if you don’t have an answer at the ready.

Deliberate motivation and desire to join the team are of paramount importance: often these qualities become the decisive factor for a positive hiring decision, especially on junior level positions.

Preparing for an interview: a check-list 

Assess the company profile and jot down a list of its qualities that attract you the most. Explore the company site, look how it describes its culture, read reviews on Glassdoor, and then compare the company values with your own to find out whether the most important of them match.

Read carefully the position description and describe why you are interested in it. Try to bring up some examples from your previous work experience that match the tasks relevant to the position you seek, and mention them in the interview. It’s the most efficient way to “sell” your expertise.

Test your mic and camera (in case of an online interview) and the communication platform (Zoom/Skype/Google Hangout) beforehand. Use headphones to get rid of echo. Some platforms have a noise-cancelling option: don’t forget to turn it on when working from home, so the person you are talking to hears only your voice, and not your household members or pets.

Make sure that you know how to use basic functions, like sharing the screen. Sit against a neutral background, or simply choose one of the virtual backgrounds provided by the platform.

Prepare a list of questions to the recruiter or hiring manager. Almost all interviews include the “Do you have any questions” stage. This is a perfect opportunity not only to obtain useful information about the company and your prospective position, but also to demonstrate that you came prepared and well-informed.

Bear in mind that it’s an interview, not a one-way interrogation. You choose the company just as the company chooses you. Any job is a mutually beneficial exchange. You add value to the business, so stay focused on this value.

Author: Elena Burkovskaya


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