Thinking about whether to work overseas in the UK is exciting. The United Kingdom is a highly popular place for expats, if not for its prosperous jobs market, then for its culture and the accessibility of the rest of Europe. A chance to work overseas in the UK is a dream for many, with countries like Spain, Italy and Germany on its doorstep. Here’s everything you need to know about how to work overseas in the UK.
Are foreigners eligible to work overseas in the UK?
Yes! Fundamentally, anyone can live and work overseas in the UK by meeting certain criteria. The complexity of that criteria will differ based on your personal circumstances.
If you are the citizen of a country in the European Economic Area (EEA), congratulations – you are already entitled to reside and work in the UK. It is best if you obtain a registration certificate, as this will simplify your interaction with social and government services.
However, if you’re not a citizen within EEA, then you’ll need to obtain permission from the UK to live and work there. Depending on your age and skillset, you’ll be able to apply for:
- A “Tier 5” working holiday visa (age 18-30 only)
- A “Tier 2” (skilled migrant) visa (requires a minimum salary from a company sponsors [supports] you)
There are other types of work visas – read more about the UK work visas here. Each year, a job shortage list is also posted – qualifying candidates have less restrictions on their visa requirements. Regardless of the visa type, you will need to apply for it from your home country. You can’t visit the UK as a tourist and apply while you’re there, unlike some other countries.
Be aware that recently, the UK has been politically motivated to reduce the number of incoming migrants as a result of the ongoing influx of people fleeing the Middle East. This has even affected skilled migration, and may reflect an ongoing trend to tighten migration requirements.
Ensure that your profile stands out
Regardless of your personal circumstances, one thing is certain: you’ll be competing against highly skilled local talent. This is always true no matter which country you’re in, but is especially difficult as an overseas job candidate – your location will be seen as an additional obstacle.
It’s important that you remove this as an issue. You need to ensure that your profile stands out, that you are worth hiring despite your location and the complexities surrounding relocation. Here’s how to update your profile to ensure that you’ll win an international job offer. I did this, and it works.
How to find a sponsored job overseas in the UK
If you want a tier 2 skilled migrant visa (as a non-EEA citizen), finding a sponsored job can be difficult and time consuming. Many companies simply don’t offer work visa sponsorship for overseas candidates. Of those that do, they don’t always openly advertise that they are willing to sponsor – it can be a costly and complex exercise for the company. Luckily, the UK is one of the few countries that publish a full list of the companies that are licensed to sponsor your work visa. Thirty thousand potential companies. Excellent! Of course, you need to narrow this down.
Now, you can approach your next steps from two angles:
- Search through the sponsor companies list for known companies in your industry
- Search for jobs that match your skills and expertise
In either case, you need to take that sponsor companies list and turn it into a spreadsheet. This will give you the ability to make notes and filter down to the companies of interest (you know how to use Excel, right?).
Search through the major UK job sites
There is rarely a single go-to job listing site for every country. However, I can tell you that in the UK, these are some of the important job search sites:
- reed.co.uk | monster.co.uk | indeed.co.uk (large aggregates)
- hays.co.uk | randstad.co.uk | Hudson.co.uk (industry recruiters)
- LinkedIn UK | jobsite.co.uk (social & alternative, read more here)
Naturally, search for jobs requiring your specific expertise, in the area you would consider living in. London has many opportunities, but can be expensive. Consider other smaller alternative cities, such as Bristol.
Be sure to upload your resume to each of these sites where available. This will distribute your name and experience out to industry-specific recruiter or hiring specialist.
If you need sponsorship, ensure that the jobs you apply for are from companies that are licensed to sponsor (from the official list discussed earlier). Otherwise, you’ll be out of luck when discussing your work eligibility with the employer.
Finding other UK jobs in your industry
Importantly, if you need sponsorship, you’ll also need to correlate these companies back to the sponsor company list. Place a marker on the company to save it for later.
Work through these lists and locate each company’s career site – they probably have jobs which are not listed on the large jobsites. Regardless of what you find, ensure you are keeping tidy notes of each relevant company’s career websites. This will come in handy into the future for you.
Other tips for finding work overseas in the UK
- Always make new contacts. Connect with industry-specific recruiters on LinkedIn, stay in touch with anyone that contacts you.
- Search local – don’t forget about applying for roles in smaller companies. They can often give you great work experience.
- Remember that you can work anywhere in the UK – broaden (or restrict) your search to new areas, not just London.
- Be prepared to receive calls at all hours of the day (or night) – recruiters don’t always remember to check your timezone.
- Set weekly goals for your number of job applications. Keep applying constantly until you have a guaranteed position.
- Don’t give up! All of this takes time (upwards of 6 months). If you stay persistent and positive, you’ll find what you’re looking for.
I hope you found this guide useful in learning how to work overseas in the UK. In an upcoming article, I’ll tell you all about the tips & tricks for moving to the UK. Stay tuned – and don’t forget to subscribe!
For now, why not check out the ultimate checklist for moving overseas?