- #1 How to Apply for a UK National Insurance Number
#2 Finding a Job in the UK
Now that you have a place to live, a National Insurance Number, a home, and a bank account, we bring you “Finding a Job,” the final post in our Settling Into Your New Life: UK Edition series. Like the rest of the UK, Scotland is expensive, and if you want to live here for a while you’ll likely need a job to keep your bank account from draining too much.
In this post we’re not going to cover how to get a job, exactly. We assume you already know how to make up a CV/Resume and do an interview. If you don’t, there are plenty of targeted websites that will guide you through the job seeking process. What we’re going to cover here are our experiences and observations about the job market in the UK.
Our Experience Getting Jobs
Are there jobs in the United Kingdom?
One of the things we heard the most from friends and family before we came here was that we would have a hard time finding jobs. The perception was that the employment market in the UK was, well, crap. And in part it’s turned out to be true, but for the most part it seems to be an over-hyped and misunderstood fact about the UK. There are jobs here for those who are looking; it might just take a bit longer to find one, and the one you find might pay a bit less than what you’re used to.
Jobs we’ve found
We’ve had mixed luck getting jobs here; for a couple of weeks, Miranda worked at a call center cold calling people, asking if they would “recommend their bank to colleagues.” The quota was six surveys completed per hour. As you might imagine, it’s actually pretty damned hard to get six people an hour to answer a random survey. People don’t seem to be too receptive to telemarketers. Go figure.
Dylan’s first job here wasn’t much better; he got a night job packing produce to be sent to kitchens in the morning. It was hard work, but it paid alright. It’s just too bad that at the end of the first day they told him that they’d call him and let him know if they were interested. They never did. The kicker is that this was the first he’d heard he was only in for a trial. Every conversation they had before that implied that he was already hired. He never got paid, and they never answered their phones when he called. He wasn’t the only one either; there was a Polish guy who started at the same time as him who ended up in the same boat.
Luckily we ended up getting a job where we could work together, and so far it’s been better than either of those jobs could have been. We’re currently working as leafleters, shoving pizza flyers through mailboxes around Edinburgh. It’s not glamorous, but it’s served us well. We get to be outdoors during the summer, we work together and at our own pace, and best of all, we get to see Edinburgh from the inside out. Most travelers to a city don’t have a reason to explore every nook and cranny of every neighborhood.
Without this job, we wouldn’t have had any reason to walk through most of the residential areas that we’ve covered; for one, it’s given us an opportunity to see inside most of the old flats that mark Edinburgh’s architecture, which we probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.
What’s the pay like in Scotland?
One of the biggest difference we noticed about getting jobs in the UK than in Canada is when you get paid. Most jobs here pay once every four weeks; ours currently pays once every five weeks– though some will pay every two weeks, as we were used to in Canada. We were pretty broke while waiting for our first pay checks, and waiting for a whole month really didn’t help the situation. If you’re planning on working abroad in the UK, make sure you have at least a month of money saved for the period where you’re waiting to get paid!
Another one of the biggest differences we noticed was the amount of pay. The pay here sucks for unskilled workers! (That’s not to say we’re unskilled of course. We’re just applying all of our useful skills to a blog that doesn’t pay.) Unless you’re looking for skilled work you’ll likely be making the minimum wage of 6.19, maybe a bit more.
Resources for Finding Jobs in the UK
A few resources for job seekers looking for jobs in the UK:
And of course, you can always look for a job the good old fashioned way– by handing out your CV to shops, or looking in the classified section of the paper. But you already knew that.
Which method do you use when you’re searching for a job in a new country?