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Talented? Hardworking? Blonde (or not)?: advice for Kiwis moving to London

Kiwi Rebecca Penwarden made the move to London just three months ago and is now part of the Global Opportunities team at PageGroup. Rebecca assists candidates moving to the UK on a daily basis – who tend to be Commonwealth candidates on the Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa, headed to London. As someone who is familiar with the trials and tribulations of moving your life from one side of the world to the other, here Bec provides some tips on how to get into working life in London.

Advice for Kiwis moving to London


Research the market for your industry

Starting again in a new country means a new job market – and you’ll need to get to grips with how it works. Every industry is different, but the key thing to realise is that with an increase in population size, and opportunities, there is also an increase in competition. 
London can be tough – the scale of operations is huge, and that means there are many more specialists. What might be rolled into one job description in Australia or New Zealand will probably be five separate roles in London. Coming in with a broad skill set can sometimes make it difficult to compete with specialists on the job market.  In some of the more competitive industries, you’ll be up against UK graduates and candidates who are able to carry out unpaid internships and volunteer work, gaining the practical experience that can give them an advantage. I don’t say all of this to dishearten you, but you need to be prepared. 
Research your industry before you get to the UK – look at job descriptions, advertisements and structure your CV accordingly. Talk to anyone you know who’s already here. If you’re determined to make your international move a career move, try to get exposure in the industry before you get here. A good idea is to find work with a global company with offices in the UK and try to get onto international projects.  In certain industries, such as accounting, where qualifications are recognised and a lot of reporting standards are similar, the transition can be a more straightforward one. The more preparation and research you do, the better chance you have of meeting your expectations.

Have reasonable salary expectations

While we’re on the subject of expectations – you’ll need to have a think about salary. One of the first questions you’ll be asked by potential employers or agencies is what you’re looking for. You don’t want to sell yourself short or price yourself out. It’s not as easy as a direct currency conversion. You’ll spend pounds differently than dollars, and rates in Australia and New Zealand tend to be on the higher side. 
Every industry has their own pay scales, but more often than not, you’ll be stepping in at a level perhaps below or around the same as where you’re at now – it’s not that common to get a promotion for your first job in your new city (although it’s not impossible, so it’s worth throwing your hat in the ring!). Considering a broader salary range will mean a higher chance of getting your foot on the ladder in a new market. It’ll give you a chance to show an employer what you’re capable of, which you can then leverage for an increase in pay, or for a higher rate in your next role. We’ve got a handy salary comparison tool here which can help give you an idea of average rates in the UK. 

Be open to ideas

It might be tougher to get a role in your chosen field, especially to begin with if it’s a competitive sector. The key things to remember are to be persistent, but also to be flexible. Make the most of networking events and meeting new people. If possible, consider internships or volunteer work. Just as in Australia or New Zealand, sometimes a chance conversation can get the ball rolling down a path you might not have expected. Bear in mind that if you’re trying to change industries, this can be tough if you’ve just changed country as well, so be open to looking for work in your previous specialism and think about building internal relationships and perhaps transitioning from there. Keep an eye out for roles where a company is looking for more transferable skills. PageGroup is always looking for new consultants if you’re target-driven and want to carve out a career in recruitment. Candidates with a range of skill sets have made the transition, you can find out more on our careers site.

Agencies dominate the job market, so get registered – and follow up

Since London is home to a lot of head offices, flagships and headquarters, there’s a huge volume of recruitment going on all of the time. So much so, that it does tend to be outsourced to recruitment agencies, on a scale larger than what you might be used to. It’s a good idea to get acquainted with how agencies work. It helps to understand that when agencies are asked to recruit roles, they’re given a pretty specific checklist of what to look for, and are only able to submit a handful of candidates in a shortlist to their client. It can get competitive – and it’s not a reflection of what the agency thinks you can or can’t do, more that they’re often working to a strict brief.  
Recruitment agencies have a portfolio of clients, giving you broader range of options, and your recruitment consultant will be able to keep you informed on the market and salary expectations.  And don’t be afraid to follow up with your consultant regularly. Keep an eye on the agency website and keep your consultant updated on your job search. They’ll let you know if there are any new options to run past you, but it’s worth checking in now and again. A good relationship with a recruiter can make all the difference. 
If you’d like to chat to Rebecca or someone in her team about your move to London and potential opportunities in the UK, please do get in touch at [email protected] .