28 May 2014
Advice for an International Job Hunt
I recently received an email from fellow blogger and London lover, Darci, asking me about my trip in October where I did my first job hunt in London, and what exactly I did to make that happen. I did not have the luck of securing a job, but I was able to secure six meetings before I even landed on UK soil, as well as leave London with a job offer. So I wanted to make a post just to give some tips and advice on what I did to get myself in the door to speak with these different businesses. There was a lot that went into the trip before I even got to the city. I booked my ticket to London in July, with the plan to bust my ass in the next two months to find myself a job that would keep me in the country. There are a lot of requirements that go into being cleared for a work permit. One very important point in this is that you need to be proven to be a better hire than a UK citizen, so that you are not taking away the jobs of the people that are already in the country. Because of this, I focused on businesses that I either knew were registered sponsors, or were in the midst of expanding their company. I did a TON of different things to search and find companies to contact: 1) Looking for growing businesses, I did a lot of google searches. "Top growing companies in London" "London companies to watch for" "Expanding businesses in London" You can tell they are all really similar searches, but in different wordings. I did this the most out of any search. I would find top 10 lists of companies to look out for, articles on specific companies and how they were expanding, etc. etc. 2) I used LinkedIn quite a bit too. What I would do, is get onto LinkedIn, and do a job search with general criteria. But with the list of job offers, I did not apply through LinkedIn for these. Rather, I used this to simply provide me with more companies that were on the lookout for work. I used this, and went to the actual websites, to contact them directly. 3) Another thing I used LinkedIn for was for HR Directors. I would do company searches, to find out the names of the HR Directors for those businesses. Through that, I would try and contact the HR department directly. They are the people that do the hiring, so if you are able to get straight to them, you're one step ahead of the rest whose emails are being forwarded through the company. 4) International hotels (Marriott, Hyatt, Hiton, etc.) have a certain amount of work visas they are able to use a year. For example, Marriott in UK has about 80 work permits to give out. Yes, these are given to their already employed to renew their visas, but with people moving departments, leaving the company, etc. there are always the chances that there are work permits still available. During our meetings with these hotels in October, they were out of their permits by then, but I have kept contact with the HR Director I met with who discussed a possibility of a position within the area I have my experience in, in the next year or so, when things get renewed. So regarding businesses with this situation, be sure you get your name out to these places towards the end of a year, or right in the beginning, where you are able to be in discussion with them at the best time possible. 5) London has a TON of recruitment agencies. I emailed quite a few of these explaining my situation - that I was an international, looking for work to permanently relocate to the UK, and would need a company to sponsor a visa for me. They know that it's tough, but they are willing to help. And their job is to help find jobs, so they know what they are doing. I still keep in contact with the gentleman I met with while I was in London, and plan to meet again when I arrive back in the city. 6) You should notice that I have mentioned more than once that I keep in contact with these people. Even if the time isn't right then, that doesn't mean that it won't be right in a few months. Anything can happen at any time, so make sure you stay in these businesses minds because in the case that something does come up, you may be the person that pops back up. 7) The UK Government website lists organizations that are registered sponsors (companies need to apply to have the ability to sponsor work permits. As if you already knew it was a long process - it's even longer than you thought) I found this list very close to the day I was leaving for London, so I didn't use it too much, but it has hundreds of thousands of companies that are already able to sponsor, along with their locations in the UK. You can find this here. Once you find the businesses, there are a few things to remember for when you do get in touch: 1) When you email, make sure that you have researched the company you are contacting. Include what you found that drew you into them, why you want to work for them, and why you would be a great addition. You will get few replies with a generic email that doesn't show that you've done at least a little bit of research. 2) Update and perfect your resume! I didn't include my address (and if I did, I used a friends local London address), but only my phone number, email, and LinkedIn page. Just like you'll find in America, companies are much more inclined to talk to you if they believe you are already living in the area. Also - keep it organized! I'm assuming most of you know the basics of getting a job, and you also know that the company will not spend too much time on your resume. Make sure what you want them to see is closer to the top, and that it's easy to read through. 3) I made sure to include the dates that I will be in London when I sent out my emails. I wrote these emails so that they absolutely understood that I was in the area and my intentions were to physically meet and speak in person. The most difficult part is getting your foot in the door. If you are able to get over that hurdle and be in communication, you're that much closer to scheduling a meeting, and once you meet - that's your time to shine! I know first hand that a work permit is one of the most difficult things to obtain, but if a company wants you enough, they will work with you to get you in with them. So do your research, bring your confidence, and impress the hell out of them. I used the month of September to really set my schedule. If I were to guess, I probably sent my resume out to about 300-400 companies. From those emails, I got plenty of rejections, plenty of replies that there might be something in the future, and a few who seemed interested to know who I was. By the time I landed in London, I had secured meetings with a PR firm, a recruitment agency, a telecommunications agency, Marriott International, and an SEO agency in Oxford. Within these, I left with an offer for a graduate position as a Digital Marketer at the SEO agency. Once we sorted through the contract and began the process with the visa, things were put on a halt because the offer didn't meet the guidelines of the work permit. So while I left London with the feeling of success, it wasn't too long until I felt like I was back in square one. Thinking "Will I ever get back there?" And with that never-ending determination I've gained, I didn't stop. Which is what led me to graduate school. Graduate school is not always a viable option for everyone. There is a lot of money involved, a lot of preparation, and it is a HUGE risk to do that when there is no absolute guarantee of sticking around once you get your degree, but there are benefits to this: it gives you a year to be living within the city, making it easier to connect and network, complete work placements, and let businesses physically see you and your work ethic, it also gives you a higher education degree that makes you stand out more than the next person who you are competing with for the job. I've been through trial and error plenty of times with this journey, and this final plan is the biggest risk I'll possibly take in my life. I haven't felt an ounce of regret - only excitement for what's to come. And that's how what I know I'm doing is right. I can't wait to write that post about how I finally got that job that I've been working towards for so long.