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Finding the perfect job for you

When measured by GDP, the United Kingdom is the world’s fifth largest economy.

This makes it an attractive option for many expats seeking a new career challenge. Having recovered well from the global economic downturn, a range of thriving industries are looking to recruit people from all over the world. But stringent work permit regulations, recent political changes, and regional variation in economic performance do mean a little homework is required before you make your move.

The U.K. economy

Britain’s strong economy is predominantly built on its successful service industries. Financial services, such as banking and insurance, are some of the largest employers in the country, accounting for more than one million jobs. Just over half of these are based in the capital city of London. But there are large financial employers in other cities — such as Edinburgh, Newcastle and Norwich.

The sector’s success is partly because of London’s position as the financial hub of the European Union. The recent decision to leave the E.U. (commonly referred to as “Brexit”) could have a big impact — so it’s a good idea to ask potential employers about their future plans before you commit.

The U.K. also has a long tradition of manufacturing. During the Industrial Revolution, it was even referred to as the 'workshop of the world'. More than a century later, shifts in the global economy have created tough competition for that title. Nevertheless, the U.K. still has a strong research, development and manufacturing base in certain key industries — including aerospace, pharmaceuticals and the automotive industry.

The U.K.’s production of coal, oil and gas means that the energy sector has traditionally been one of its largest employers. The Scottish city of Aberdeen, in particular, has benefitted from its reputation as a hub for the North Sea oil industry. While dwindling reserves and declining oil prices have had an impact, developments in renewable energy and gas production mean there are still exciting opportunities in this sector.

Work around the U.K.

London and the southeast are the most prosperous areas of the U.K. and this is where many expats choose to settle. Wages tend to be higher in this region and jobs are likely to be more numerous — particularly in the capital city. But house prices and the cost of living have kept pace with wage rises — making it one of the more expensive places to settle.

Elsewhere in the country, the powerhouses of the Industrial Revolution — such as Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow — have also done a good job of rebalancing their economies to remain competitive. Don’t be afraid to look beyond London for opportunities.

Permits and visas

Wherever you want to work, you’ll need to make sure that you have the correct work permits and visas in place.

Currently, E.U. citizens don’t require a work permit. But this is likely to change should the United Kingdom leave the E.U. How migration from E.U. countries will be managed after this won’t be known until the Brexit negotiation process is complete.

All expats from outside the E.U. are required to apply for a work visa. These are awarded using a points-based system, which is quite complex and can be hard to decipher. There are various tiers and types of visa you can apply for. The basic principle remains the same for each one: expats with highly desirable skills will stand a better chance of having their visa approved quickly — particularly if they are applying to work in certain sectors. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals, for example, rarely have a problem sorting out a work visa.

Before you apply, you will need a Restricted Certificate of Sponsorship — which confirms you have been offered a job within the U.K. Your employer will need to apply to U.K. Visas and Immigration before this can be issued.

Once you have your certificate, the visa application process can begin. Points will be allocated based on:

  • Qualifications.
  • Potential earnings.
  • Language skills.
  • Existing funds.

Job hunting in the U.K.

The U.K. has a wide range of job-hunting websites. These may offer listings for a range of jobs – as in the case of larger sites like Reed, Adecco, Jobsite and Monster. Or they may offer specialist listings for particular employers or sectors — such as the government or health care. Many of these sites also allow you to upload your CV, so you can manage the whole process online.

Recruitment agencies are also common throughout the country. The advantage of using an agency is that they will often have a personal relationship with companies, meaning it’s easier to be seen for an interview.

Finally, don’t forget the old favourite — the newspaper job ad. If you know which region you want to move to, checking out the local press — online or in print — is a great way to see what jobs are out there.

A happy, healthy work life

It’s important to remember that both public and private health care systems operate in the U.K. if you’re used to being offered health insurance as part of your compensation package in other parts of the world, it’s worth remembering that not all employers will offer this as standard in the UK. Always check with prospective employers whether they offer cover — or whether they expect you to make do with public health care.

You can remove this stress and worry from the job-hunting process, by making sure you’re covered for health and wellness benefits and services before you move. Contact Aetna International for a quote today.

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