UK (and especially London) folks, where should a returning US labor union staffer work in the UK? I’ll be returning to London (location non-negotiable) early next year after almost ten years in the US. I left the UK soon after I graduated (I’ve never held a career job there), and I’ve worked as a labor union staffer in the US, working my way up to positions with a good deal of strategic and management responsibility, but I'm absolutely open to a change...
posted by crabintheocean to Work & Money (7 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Probably most relevant additional info – I’m female and 31, I have a 2:1 in English from a top (top 3?) UK university, I’m a dual UK-US national, I don’t speak any other languages, I’m confident and interview very well, and I’m smart in a reliably testable way. I’m seriously hoping that the intensity and diversity of my US experience and the ability to make such a massive change on my own initiative will count for me in the right situation, and that my probably very apparent “American-ness” isn’t going to be a big turn-off. I’m very literate and current on politics, labor issues, media, etc in both countries.
My priorities are different than they were a few years back. Honestly, I care way more about money than I once did, and less about an immediate political goal (although I still care about purpose and ethics). I’ll be returning with a wife and a new baby I need to support. My American wife has no UK experience and will take a while to find her feet, we also want to have her stay home with the baby long-term and not work more than a few hours a week. We have to be in London so we can have family support. I am terrified of renting in London (too expensive, no legal rights, buy-to-let landlords suck) and we have the savings for a good deposit on a small flat in an ok area… so long as I can bring in the salary each month to make mortgage payments, which I think is about £40,000.
The UK union movement seems like an obvious place to look, but I’ve been following listings for a while, and especially in London, jobs don’t seem to come up often – especially as I’m a little picky about where I work (politics and effectiveness). Many of the jobs I see listed are part-time, and not many pay over £30,000. Probably about right really, but as a relatively senior union staffer in the US I’m used to making $60-90,000, so it’s a rude awakening and I don’t know how we’d do it.
Alternately, I’d love a civil service job; it’s not for profit, they look for smarts over specific qualifications and seem willing to challenge their staff and give responsibility, salaries seem decent. However, it looks like the only route right now is the Fast-Track, which would have been a great option fresh out of college, but salaries start at £25,000! I think I’m a good FT candidate, but I know it’s massively oversubscribed, so I can’t pin anything on getting in anyway. Everything else in the UK Civil Service is subject to a hiring freeze from what I can tell.
So I would love some input on where else I should be looking for a stable, not too evil, £40k+ job (I know, just like everyone else) that requires management and strategy experience, writing skill and ability to learn over specific technical skills, or alternately is a great fit for my union experience without being corporate HR or some other form of union-busting.
Additionally, I want to get started on this before we actually move, and I would love to be sending out speculative “Hi, here’s who I am, here’s when I’ll be available, please think of me” applications, but it seems like that kind of thing isn’t done in the UK, and job applications rely on forms rather than CVs. Is there any meaningful way I can touch base with potential employers ahead of filling out application forms for specific posts?
Any relevant advice appreciated, but if you don't have experience with work in the UK, or if you're not there now, please say. Thanks so much!