The UK has one of the world’s largest economies, supported by a committed workforce. If you are considering a move to the UK and are looking to find work, these are the steps you’ll need to take to secure yourself a position in the UK job market.

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While we cannot assist directly with job placements, our 1st Contact relocation team has compiled a few pointers to help you with your search.

Requirements for working in the UK

Preparation is the key to success. Every year thousands of people relocate to the UK to start a new life and career. If you're not familiar with all the rules and regulations surrounding the right to work in the UK, the process can become confusing. Equipping yourself with the right information will not only help you with your application but also with the entire process.

Qualifications

The UK is a leading global economy. While not a necessity, most companies in the UK prefer that your qualifications are internationally recognised as the job market is extremely competitive. The UK ENIC, the national information centre for global qualifications and skills, can help you find out how qualifications awarded in your home country compare with British qualifications. In addition to details on which professions are regulated in the UK, ENIC has a section on which qualifications are recognised.

National Insurance (NI) number

All employees in the UK, whether British, European, or international citizens, require an NI number. You can begin working before receiving your National Insurance number if you can demonstrate your right to work in the UK. You must notify your prospective employer that you have applied for one and provide it to them once you have received it.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) launched an online NI application service earlier this year. Unless you are missing the required documents, the application process is now online. When applying you must provide the following documentation:

  • Your passport
  • Your biometric residence permit (BRP)

If you don't have these documents, you can still apply, but you may need to make an appointment to prove your identity.

If you have the right to work in the UK, you can start work without a NI number. Many people who work but do not yet have a NI number will face much higher emergency taxes until it has been issued.

Our team can take care of all the necessary administration and ensure that the documents you submit are correct so that your application is successful.

CV preparation

Once you’ve done the necessary groundwork, begin your job search by preparing your CV. What many applicants don’t realise is that UK CVs follow a distinct structure. A chronological CV, also known as a traditional CV, is the one you want to use. It follows a straightforward structure – presented in reverse chronological order, it displays your most recent experience and achievements first. This allows employers to quickly assess the worth of your most recent and relevant work experiences.

Each CV should be tailored to the job description and the company you are applying to. Remember to:

  • Provide only the relevant information
  • List statistics and metrics that really show the employer how good you are
  • Avoid stating irrelevant hobbies
  • Have all necessary documents on hand
  • Choose the correct CV format (a chronological or skills-based CV – a chronological CV is most popular in the UK)
  • Avoid grammar and spelling mistakes
  • Use headings, bullet points and spacing to break information up to make it easier to read
  • Match the words you use to the keywords in the job description

The National Careers Service (NCS) has compiled a basic CV builder that you can use to help you along the way.

In most cases, UK job applications consist of either an application form, often available online, that includes a personal statement demonstrating that you meet the job's requirements or a CV and cover letter, which should address the same issues as the personal statement.

Add your CV to application portals

A properly uploaded CV conveys a positive image of you as a professional, increasing your chances of being considered for the position. Employers who receive many applications may overlook applicants with incorrectly uploaded CVs and the recruitment process may be delayed if an employer needs to contact you for a new copy of your CV.

When it comes to uploading your CV online, there are a few simple steps you can take, regardless of how individual websites look or behave.

  • Step 1: Choose an appropriate and clear name for the file
  • Step 2: Choose an appropriate file format (.doc, .docx, PDF are preferred)
  • Step 3: Save this file on your PC
  • Step 4: Check the file before you upload it (make sure the document can be opened)
  • Step 5: Click the ‘upload’ button and select the file

If you are having trouble uploading your CV, there may be a problem with the website, and you should contact the employer to see if you can submit your CV in another way.

How to find work in the UK job market

Now that you have successfully completed your CV, the job hunt begins. In the UK, most candidates apply for work through recruitment agencies rather than applying directly to company HR departments. These agencies have good contacts and will put you forward for jobs that require your skills. Some specialise in specific industries so it’s always best to first check the agencies' websites to find out what jobs they have available.

Recruitment agencies understand what employers are looking for. Registering with multiple agencies at the same time will increase your chances of finding work.

Other ways to source employment opportunities include:

Job interview tips

Once you have secured an interview with a potential employer it will be important for you to make a good impression. Ahead of the interview:

  • Conduct adequate research on the company and position
  • Compile a list of FAQs to revise
  • Arrive at least 10 minutes early (call if running late)
  • Overdress rather than underdress (professional attire)

In the interview, remember to:

  • Be confident and friendly
  • Speak clearly and answer questions in a detailed and honest manner
  • Motivate why you are the stronger candidate for the position
  • Ask questions

Get a UK work visa

The UK Skilled Worker visa is an employer-sponsored route, meaning you need to get a job from an approved sponsor before you can apply.

To be eligible for a Skilled Worker visa, you must:

  • Work for or have a job offer from a UK employer that’s been approved by the Home Office (i.e has a sponsorship licence)
  • Have a ‘certificate of sponsorship’ from your employer with information about the role you’ve been offered in the UK
  • Ensure that your job is on the eligible occupations list.
  • Be paid a minimum salary – the amount will depend on the type of work you do
  • Be able to speak, read and write English at a proficient level
  • Be able to show you have enough funds to support yourself initially.

Still unsure about how to obtain your visa? Our UK visa experts can help you with this. We've also put together a guide to life in the UK that covers just about everything you'll need to know before embarking on this adventure.

Take the stress out of your move to the UK

Once you’ve found a job in the UK and secured your visa, our 1st Contact Relocation team can get you and your family UK-ready so you can hit the ground running as soon as you arrive.

Our Relocation Pack includes:

  • NI number assistance
  • Help with setting up a UK bank account
  • A pay-as-you-go SIM card
  • A free international money transfer to send funds back home, and
  • A UK relocation guidebook (including travel and discounts)

Moving to the UK? Get your free Relocation Pack here.


We are a professional services company that specialises in cross-border financial and immigration advice and solutions.

Our teams in the UK, South Africa and Australia can ensure that when you decide to move overseas, invest offshore or expand your business internationally, you'll do so with the backing of experienced local experts.

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