Find Out How to Get a Job and Work in London
- Jan-Peter van Tijk
I wish I'd found InterNations sooner: It would have made my first few month as an expat in London much less overwhelming.
Finding a job in London should be easy. Reports from the Office of National Statistics in June 2019 showed there were 824,000 jobs available in the UK, and many of these were in London. However, getting the job you want might not be so easy. London may be rife with jobs, but competition is stiff.
If you are looking for a role in technology, East London’s Tech City might have suitable vacancies. Some of London’s major technology companies are based at Tech City, also known as “Silicon Roundabout”. The development is supported by the government and generates at least 6 GBP (7 USD) for every 1 GBP (1 USD) invested.
In addition to tech roles, London is also home to burgeoning creative and media industries. Fleet Street is the spiritual home of journalism, where Britain’s national newspapers were based for centuries. While the days of Fleet Street’s journalistic headquarters are virtually gone, almost all of the UK’s major media companies and television networks are still based throughout the city.
If you have accepted a new job in London, InterNations provides relocation services, such as language and intercultural training, that help you settle in to your new role.
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Job Market Overview
Things to Know About Working in London
London’s Economic Plan
The London Plan was published in 2016 and is occasionally updated. It outlines how the economy, environment, transport, and social affairs in London, will be maintained and improved until 2031. Part of this plan is to improve employment opportunities, especially for those living in the British capital city, by removing barriers to work.
For example, adults in London from Black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) groups are more than twice as likely to be unemployed than those from White groups. Part of the plan is to promote equality in the city’s workforce.
However, local people struggling to find work are encouraged to learn new skills to give them a better chance of fitting into a work environment which increasingly centers around cutting-edge technology.
Part of London’s motivation to arm local people with technology-related skills is to feed London’s major finance companies with the talent they need. If these companies cannot find local talent, they might move abroad or recruit talent from overseas. London’s fear of missing out provides an opportunity for skilled foreign graduates and professionals wanting to work in London.
The Technology Industry
As we touched on earlier in this guide, East London’s Tech City, near the Old Street Tube station, is home to major technology businesses. At the Silicon Roundabout, modern offices house smart start-ups and leading internet firms, such as Bloomberg Ventures, SoundCloud, and Mixcloud. Plus, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft, and Cisco are just some of the tech giants to invest in Tech City.
Google recently moved its London headquarters to Tech City. The hub is also supported by academic institutions, such as Imperial College London and University College London.
Academic research in 2014 predicted that the technology industry in London would add 12 billion GBP (14.5 billion USD) of value to the city by 2024. Predictions also say that there could be at least 46,000 more people working in the industry by the same date.
Moreover, figures show that London’s financial technology sector is outperforming its equivalents in New York and San Francisco. The tech industry has helped London recover from the financial crash of 2008 by creating around 27% of new jobs in the city.
The Financial Capital
London is arguably the financial capital of the world and has been an economic powerhouse since the middle ages. The nickname “City of London,’ or “City,” refers to the area of London where most of the financial institutions are placed. The City and Canary Wharf are the two main areas of financial activity, with about 315,200 people employed in finance-related jobs.
Banking, insurance, foreign exchange, and bond trading account for a large portion of the business activity in London. The city makes up about 36% of the world’s daily foreign exchange turnover, or approximately 0.73 trillion GBP (0.88 trillion USD).
The Most Required Jobs and Skills In Demand
The London Economic Plan identified information technology as the main skills in demand in London. Those working in this area may have the easiest time looking for work.
The biggest sector for jobs in London is services. The services industry provides about 91% of all jobs in the city. This includes jobs in retail, hospitality, real estate activities, education, social work, and more.
In addition, the production industry makes up about 3% of other jobs. This includes mining and quarrying, manufacturing, electricity, gas, steam, and air conditioning, plus water supply, sewerage, waste, and remediation. The other 6% of the job market is made up of jobs such as forestry, fishing, agriculture, and construction.
The Most Required Jobs in London
- Software engineer
- Quantity surveyor
- Automation engineer
- Digital marketing manager
- Blockchain developer
In London, demand for staff in technology roles increased by 44% between July 2018 and July 2019. Job vacancies in financial services remained stable, partly due to some major firms leaving London. On the other hand, demand for IT professionals increased by 25%, with vacancies in sector contributing to 37% of all advertised job roles.
Nesta published a report predicting the most in-demand jobs in 2030 in London and the rest of the UK. They predicted the following 10 jobs would be much-needed and would be secure careers to get into:
- Sports therapy
- Artisans, such as coffee roasters, butchers, and barbers
- Skilled tradespeople
- Hospitality and catering
- Engineers (electrical, mechanical, civil, etc)
- Healthcare professionals
- Veterinary nurses
- Creatives, such as writers, marketers, and designers
The average salary in London is 42,000 GBP (51,000 USD). You can see exactly where in London the best salaries are in this interactive Tube map created by jobs website Adzuna. It shows average salaries for jobs within a quarter mile of different Tube stations.
The Barbican district has the highest-paid workers, with average earnings of more than 52,700 GBP (63,870 USD). In Adzuna’s interactive Tube map, the area around the Waterloo & City line had the second highest average salary at almost 51,000 GBP (61,800 USD).
Notwithstanding, jobs commutable from the Victoria line showed the lowest average salaries, with the Uxbridge Tube station area suffering the ignominy of the lowest average salary at 21,786 GBP (26,400 USD).
London’s Best Average Salaries by Location
- Barbican Estate: 52,700 GBP (63,870 USD)
- Canon Street: 51,000 GBP (61,800 USD)
- Bank area: 51,000 GBP (61,800 USD)
See our table below for the jobs with the highest average salaries in London. Are you qualified for any of them?
Highest Average Salaries in London
Job Title Average Salary (GBP) Average Salary (USD) Commercial property partner 114,300 137,870 Real estate associate 97,611 117,730 Banking solicitor 95,005 114,590 Real estate lawyer 93,760 113,000 Construction lawyer 92,674 111,780 Corporate lawyer 90,433 109,000 Enterprise architect 90,311 108,900 Corporate solicitor 88,768 107,000 Quantitative analyst 86,735 104,600 Data architect 83,988 101,300
What is a Good Salary in London?
When Time Out asked 3,000 Londoners how much they thought they needed to earn to live comfortably in the capital, the average answer estimated about 53,000 GBP (64,700 USD), which is about 10,000 GBP (12,110 USD) more than the average salary in London.
How to Get a Job
Something you should know about how to get a job in London is the job-seeking process can be just as frantic, competitive, and even as exciting as London life. There are hundreds of thousands of job vacancies in London (an estimated 220,000), yet 1,329,000 out of 34,140,000 residents who are able to work are unemployed.
Because there are more unemployed people than jobs available, you will need special skills and experience to stand out from the crowd.
Tips on How to Find a Job in London
There are several ways for expats to get a job in London. Take a look through our list below to find the best method for you.
Knowledge of the English Language
Not speaking English could be a deal-breaker for your dream move to London. However, this is not always the case. The UK’s 2011 census showed that nearly 10% of the population of England and Wales did not consider English to be their first language. Further, it recorded that 3.1% of Asian Bangladeshi people, 2.6% of white Gypsy/Traveller people, 2.2% of Asian Chinese people, and 1.4% of Arab people—among others—living in London could not speak English.
Knowing this, it is possible to survive in England’s capital without speaking English, but your career opportunities will most likely be limited.
To get a work visa in London, you can earn points towards your application by demonstrating your English language skills. Level B1 in reading, writing, speaking, and listening is a good level to aim for. However, the higher your English proficiency the better.
Nevertheless, you might find the job you want even if you do not speak fluent English. Based on a 2017 report by the British Council, these are expected to be the most-needed languages in the UK job market, after English, for years to come:
Have the Correct Work Permit
Until the UK leaves the European Union, EU and EEA citizens do not need a special work visa to work in London, however, it is possible they will after Brexit. On the other hand, if you are from a country outside of the EU and EEA, you will need the appropriate visa for your situation. This is usually a General or Tier 2 visa, for which you will need a job offer and sponsorship from a UK employer before you can get your work visa and start working in London or elsewhere in the UK.
Create a Good CV
One of the basic tools you need before you start your job search is a well-written and smartly-designed CV. This might be your first and only chance to impress a prospective new employer, so you need to consider how to separate yourself from the other candidates entering the process. Have a look online at CV templates and see our Working in the UK guide for more advice on jobs, CVs, and cover letters.
Use a Recruitment Agency
Look for a recruitment agency that will help you connect with companies in London who need people like you. This can be a hit-or-miss process, with some recruitment agencies choosing unsuitable jobs for you. However, it is a method that works for some people.
Make Connections in London
Consider joining InterNations, the online expat community, to find out more about job opportunities and life in London from people who already live there.
Good Websites for London Jobs:
Get advice on working abroad in London
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Although Manchester, England’s “second city,” has received investment and is developing its technology sector, there is still no better place in the UK for entrepreneurship and self-employment than London. As a matter of fact, the UK gets more tech investment than anywhere elsewhere in the world except India, China, and the US.
London is the finance hub of the world and its Tech City has armed the capital with the extra firepower to become a global technology leader.
With the technology and finance sectors so strong, there are few better places to start a new business or relocate your existing company.
A City of Startups
In 2019, more than 900 businesses raised funding and started production in London, with fintech startups receiving some of the largest funding. Some of the London-based startups expected to see success in the coming years are:
- Monzo: a modern banking platform
- TransferWise: an international money transfer service
- Hostmaker: a home rental management platform
- Revolut: a digital banking service, allowing ATM withdrawals in 120 currencies
- What3words: a tool that makes navigating easier
Interestingly, several of these leading startups offer products and services that can help you when you travel or live abroad.
London’s Top Coworking Spaces
Boss Magazine recently ranked London as the second-best city in the world for coworking spaces, just behind New York. London’s wide range of spaces, from almost 50 different providers, make it an excellent place to find a temporary workspace. However, it is also one of the more expensive cities to book a coworking space, with private offices more than 1,100 GBP (1,330 USD) a month, and hot desks around 480 GBP (580 USD) a month on average.
WeWork has 45 different office locations in London, and they could be the ideal spots for you to settle into some hard work. WeWork even hosts entire workforces from major companies, such as HSBC. The Waterloo coworking offices that HSBC staff work in have capacity for 6,000 desks.
- Prices range from 350 GBP (425 USD) to hot desk to 2,070 GBP (2,500 USD) for a private office per month
For something comfortable but not as upmarket as WeWork, you could set up at Collabor8.Space in Whitechapel.
- 199 GBP per month (240 USD)
This coworking space in Finsbury Square has an indoor cycling ramp and even a basketball court. It boats 500mbps fiber internet too.
- 250 GBP (300 USD) per month
This WeWork competitor boasts 97 coworking locations in London, including coworking spaces in Oxford Street, Pall Mall, Covent Garden, and Oxford Circus.
- From 11 to 21 GBP (13 to 25 USD) per day
Impact Hub has two coworking spaces in London, at King’s Cross and Islington. Their goal is to provide an engine for social change. Their spaces are friendly and welcoming, and their King’s Cross space is an attractive mix of modern fittings and natural-looking wooden furniture.
- From 15 to 460 GBP (18 to 550 USD) per month
More High-End Coworking Spaces in London:
- Soho Works (Shoreditch)
- The Ministry (Southwark)
- Mortimer House (Fitzrovia)
- De Beauvoir Block (Hackney)
- Fora (various locations)
See all upcoming events for expats in London
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- Jan-Peter van Tijk
I wish I'd found InterNations sooner: It would have made my first few month as an expat in London much less overwhelming.
- Therese Yeboah
For me, the InterNations events are the best part. I attend almost every get-together and always get to know lots of friendly fellow expats.