Getting your first job in London

Are you a student or a graduate looking for your first job? Are you excited by the prospect but, at the same time, worried about how to dive into the job market? Fear not. We know the feeling all too well which is why we have put together some useful information to help you succeed with your first job applications and interviews.

1. Understanding your passion

London is a bustling city with a multilingual and globalised market – not to mention endless career opportunities. Once you know what you want to do with your life and where you want it to lead, it will be much clearer which companies or organisations to consider working for (and the relevant qualifications/skills required).

2. Get experience (even if you’re not being paid)

Internships and volunteering programmes are great ways of gaining valuable (and sometimes essential) work experience. It is also a good practice for your ‘professional self’ since you’re bound to be exposed to real-life problems, work in a professional environment, and meet some inspiring people. It is always good to boost your soft skills, or any other field-related skill, along with learning a theoretical overview of the area you are working in. London has many organisations and charities (including LHA London) which are always looking for volunteers or interns. Click here to read more about our volunteering opportunities.

3. Networking

The more people you get to know, the more job opportunities you will create. Yet, for this to happen, you must step out of your comfort zone and meet new people. As part of getting to know someone, it’s important to talk about your background, interests, aims, and goals in life. Also, listening to other people talking about their professional path may be very inspiring and motivational. When it comes to online networking and creating new contacts, LinkedIn is a great platform. Here, you can share posts related to your academic and professional achievements and read many insightful papers.

4. Professional Contacts and Networking

One thing about London that you should not underestimate is the vast array of opportunities it provides to create professional contacts and networks. Professional contacts are an integral part of creating a successful career. If you possess the necessary skills and introduce yourself to the right people, who knows what the future may hold. London universities host numerous conferences, fairs, talks, and other events that help students reach the right companies and employers. Universities in London usually also have close links with the industry, which means potential employers might just happen to visit the university.

4. Curriculum Vitae and Motivational (Cover) letters

Once you know where you want to work, it’s time to start the application process and this means creating a Curriculum Vitae (CV). Before a potential employer gets to know you as a person, they get acquainted with you via your CV. He are some tips on how to write a CV so that it catches the direct attention of the recruiters:

  • Only include the experience that is related to the job you are applying for. Since it is your first job make a focus on academia, outline your formal education and add any extra credentials that you have.
  • Along with a CV, write a cover (or a motivational letter). Sometimes, a CV is only the surface of your background. In a letter, you can describe why you are applying to this job, the reasons why it is so important for you to get the job and how the company will benefit from your skills and knowledge, should they hire you.
  • Also, if relevant, you can describe the hands-on experience and relate it to one of the requirements that the hiring manager posted in the job description.  

5. Where to start?

Job search engines like Jooble gather and display job ads from thousands of job boards, corporate, recruiter pages, and newspapers. Just type in the position you are looking for together with your desired location, click “find” and browse through available listings. You can narrow your criteria based on the number of hours you’re looking to work, salary and distance you are prepared to travel. You may also want to set up an email alert and have job ads matching your criteria sent directly to your inbox.

6. Prepare for the Interview

This is the last stage of your job-finding journey. Do you want to get the job that you are so close to and so far from at the same time? If so, try to master your interview skill. Prepare a speech that will give an overview of your background. Do your research; many of the UK companies have videos of the employees on their web pages. Watch these videos to get an idea of what core values and principles the company champions as they may pop up in your interview.

Do you know what will be your best friend during the preparation period? The mirror. Yes! Talk to the mirror until you make your speech as perfect as you want. Research possible questions that the company representatives may ask you about your specialisation or for the general intellectual analysis. 

Your appearance and how you present yourself during the recruitment process also counts. It is always better to be overdressed than underdressed for an interview. Wearing a white or light top, possibly with a tailored jacket, and dark trousers or skirt is a safe option for a formal interview in London.

Good luck!