Finding Work in London is Stressful

by - January 15, 2014

Prior to relocating to London I had only held a few part-time jobs and one “real world” full-time job. So needless to say I didn’t have a lot of experience in applying and interviewing for positions!

The first step I needed to take after acquiring my residency was to apply for a National Insurance Number. I would have thought this process was easy and not that is was hard per se but it was more cumbersome than I expected. I needed to call the JobCentrePlus hotline which I assumed would send me a form to fill out and that would be it. However, when I called, they asked me a few questions and then said my nearest JobCentre location (Camden) was booked but they booked me in for an appointment at one in East London. I didn’t get to pick the date or time, it was just assigned to me. However, as I’m not currently working or studying I made it work as it was a priority. The woman on the phone told me to bring my passport, residence permit, proof of residence, and proof of working/looking for work.

When I arrived at the JobCentre with my documents I was asked if I had an appointment letter (which I had not received) or my confirmation number (which was given to me over the phone). They had me wait in an open area with at least 30 other people standing around. After about 5-10 minutes a woman came a called me along with four other people and walked us back to another area with seating lining the walls (which was mostly full) and we had to find a place to sit or stand there. After quite awhile of waiting a man called me back (my husband was not allowed) and sat down at a desk with me to go over an application form. First he copied my passport and then I answered all the questions and then went to sit back down and wait for my passport. Several minutes later he came over saying that he missed some visit stamps in my passport and had made copies of that and amended my application. I sat back down. Then several more minutes later a woman came over and said the first gentleman had filled out the prior visits section wrong (he had asked me of any trips during my stay where I spent more than 30 days out of the country...but he should have asked any trips I’ve spent 30+ days IN the UK). So after some questions and amendments to the application and another short wait to get my passport back I was finally done and able to leave.

To be honest I was a bit annoyed at all the back and forth and lack of clear questioning (which would have sorted the issues to start with). However, at the same time I appreciated the fact that they checked it and went back over it to ensure it is processed quickly and not delayed because of missing or incorrect information. Thankfully it seems to have all worked out as I did receive my number before Christmas!

Also in this time I had submitted my CV to several jobs on The Guardian’s job section. Mostly I’ve either gotten no response or a thanks but no thanks e-mail. However, this round I got an e-mail from Pathfinders Recruitment agency saying they were interested in registering my details. I wasn’t really sure what to expect (as in I kind of assumed it would be a scam or at least charge something) but I thought I’d take a chance and go meet with them to learn what they are about.

I met with two women initially, one of whom handles temp assignments and one who does permanent placements. I had said that I ultimately wanted a permanent role but was willing to work as a temp to gain some UK experience. After having a chat with the very nice women I had to do spelling and typing tests. Then they had an Admin/IT role I might be interested in at a design firm and I agreed to have my CV put forward for that. Over the next few days after my appointment there were a couple more roles they thought I might be suitable for. By about a week later and not really hearing much of anything I kind of assumed that nothing had come of those few roles. Then I got a call asking me to clarify my visa/work permission status because the design company was interested in my CV. Once I confirmed that she came back saying they would like to interview me. A few hours after the interview they notified me that the company would like to see me again. Unfortunately, the company decided to go with someone with more IT experience.

I’ve been continually applying for positions, including part-time retail work at places like Boots, Whole Foods, Build-a-Bear...all of which I haven’t had any luck with. Boots even said I didn't pass their questionnaire (which was basically about customer service situations) despite the fact that I worked in retail for two and a half years and if I'm honest the US has better customer service. Just yesterday at Boots my friend was having trouble finding something and asked an associate twice and instead of walking her to the product she just told her the section it was in both times. I'm sorry but that just wouldn't fly in my former retail position!

I have to say, when I got my first job mere weeks after graduating college I was very fortunate. I was in the right part-time student worker job at the right time and had impressed my supervisors. This four months of looking for work has been soul crushing to be honest.

So many places never even respond to your application, and the ones that do just say they won’t be taking my application further. I haven’t gotten any other interview requests. I'm just not used to so much rejection!

Insulting rejection...

Now in the new year, I’ve decided to expand my search back into the higher education field. It’s where my experience is, there are several openings, and to be completely honest the pay is better than the entry level media jobs I was applying for. Hopefully I’ll have a better response and be able to finally start working!

One benefit of not finding a job before the new year? My US taxes should be simple at least...and technically as I had no income I don’t think I actually have to file them.

But, I can't wait until the day I can post all about "Working in the UK"!

Have you ever had trouble finding a new job? What did you do to entertain yourself (considering your budget for entertainment is next to nothing)?

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  1. Finding work is very very hard going at the moment, keep your chin up and try to do something for you whilst you're looking for something. Lots of blogging time I guess.
    Just keep swimming!
    M x Life Outside London

    1. Thanks! I'm sure something will come. And yes, lots of blogging time...was a big reason I started the blog!

  2. I'm sorry you're finding it hard finding a job!!! It's not easy over here at the moment. It seems like a pain getting a NI number - it's probably just because of how busy it is in London though. My housemates brother in law just got his, no problem at all in Leeds (from Greece).

    Good luck!

    Corinne x

    1. Yeah I think my NI number was just complicated because of all my travel to and from and living here for a year without seeking work (as a student)...and yes how busy the offices are in London! But I got it and it all worked out, so no complaints really :)

  3. Keep your head up! Every 10 nos is a 1 least for sales that is...I pray for you to get a job soon!

    Nominated you for the Liebster Award

    xoxo, K.Lee

    1. Oh wow thank you! And yes, I'm sure something will come. As my mom says when I don't get a positive reply from a job I really wanted, it just wasn't the right job for me and the right one will come along when it's supposed to!

  4. Bit of a lurker (late of UK-Yankee), but been following your blog. Not sure if you found a job yet, but my company is hiring. Might be up your alley. Email me? Remains to be seen if commenting with my google account will give you a direct link; if not, try stephanie dot wasek at woundsgroup dot com. makes it sound weird, but it's not, promise!