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The backpacker’s guide to finding a job in London

Finding a job in London can prove difficult! I had so many dilemmas, so I get you might find it tough. I’ll try break it down to make it all a bit easier.

First things first: try sort your national insurance number and bank accounts. Not essential but will make the rest easier. Read more on that here.

Decide what kind of work you’re qualified for or interested in:

If you’re not sure, check out Kiwis in London on Facebook. They have a HUGE list of agencies, all split into categories. If you’re not quite sure what the agency offers, flick them an email, they are generally pretty happy to help.

Sort your CV:

You want to make this relevant to what you’re doing. If you worked in an office back home but are looking for hospitality work, there’s probably not a huge need to highlight how great you are at photocopying. And keep it short; most agencies are looking for two pages max. They are again usually pretty happy to help tailor it, and give you feedback.

Apply through agencies:

Everything in London is done through agencies. You probably want to apply for three to five in your relevant field. You’ll soon work out which ones are most likely to come through with jobs, but it doesn’t hurt to have back ups. They generally want you to go in to meet you, and sort out all the paperwork. Be prepared for treks across central London sorting all this.

Stand your ground:

This is the one thing I found really tough. Advice I got when I first got to London was ‘don’t settle for less than £12 an hour’. This obviously depends on the situation, and couples who pay less rent between them can get away with getting paid less. But as a rule, it’s pretty accurate. If you want to be able to travel and do anything nice (and by nice I mean by a kebab on the weekends, not dine at the Ritz) you really need to aim for this.

The living wage when I first got here was about £6.20. I worked one day in a cloakroom, and had to stand there staring at the wall for eight hours. I did the maths in my head of how much I was getting paid per minute, and did a tiny dance inside every time I made another 11 pence. Trust me, it’s not worth it. Especially when you get taxed on that.

Don’t be afraid to quit:

Londoners change jobs more regularly than they change their undies. If it’s not working for you, don’t be afraid to say so. I felt loyalty to the first place I worked, even though they treated me terribly. And it meant I was stuck, miserable and paid sweet nothings for far too long. It’s hard but you need to grow a pair to survive.

Some agencies I can vouch for:

KiwiOz nannies are fabulous. Even if you didn’t plan in nannying (I sure didn’t!) they are amazing and talk you through the process. They listen to what you are after, and cater their jobs to what you’re seeking. I also temped for Australasian Recruitment, who are great because they are Aussies and Kiwis, so they can be understanding of us lost  and confused Antipodes. They have jobs in plenty of fields and are so easy to deal with.

Finding a job in London is daunting, and I know first hand how hard it can be! But hopefully some of these steps will help you along the way.

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