How do I get hired in the UK?
September 16, 2009 10:51 AM   Subscribe

My favorite site is hiring developers and I'm qualified. I'm American and they're in the UK. Possibly assuming they're willing to sponsor me for a work visa, what do I need to know?

Information on differences in the application/hiring process, any business-related etiquette quirks an American might miss out on, and how to present myself as an employee worthy of sponsorship are all helpful.

A little background: I am young, married, no kids and have a very small amount (just enough for maintenance) in the bank. I've been professionally working in Web dev for about two years - the position I'm looking at is entry/associate level. The company has fewer than 100 employees but is an internationally-known site. I'd be going from a very rural to a very metropolitan style of living.

I'm pretty sure that getting what would be my dream job is a (very) long shot, but I'll be more disappointed if I didn't give it a go. I want to give it my best shot. Any advice and input is more than welcome and I'd like most to hear from Americans working abroad in the UK.
posted by theraflu to Work & Money (3 answers total)
There is another thread on getting a sponsored visa, but you might find this specific comment by mutant regarding a tightening of sponsored visas informative.
posted by qwip at 11:28 AM on September 16, 2009

Best answer: Generally speaking, a UK firm won't (and usually can't) hire a non-EU citizen who needs a work permit unless that person is the only qualified applicant. Rules can be bent internally, but this is unlikely to happen unless someone in the company knows you first because the paperwork to make this happen is expensive to the employer, and nontrivial time-wise.

If you qualify for a Highly Skilled Migrant visa (also called, since last year, Tier 1), you can be hired without that consideration being made, and are also free to change jobs in the duration of the visa, which is not possible with a standard work permit. If you have postgraduate degrees, a decent current income, and are from an English-speaking country, this gets you points, as would being under 30. Previous experience living in the UK also adds points.

If you have a plausible claim to a passport from an EU country, that can also be a way in. Ciizens from EU countries are free to work and move between countries without visas.

So! All that aside, the British CV is different from a US resume. It often includes school exam results - yes, really, and the US equivalent I would put is AP points, or SAT II scores, if you have them in relevant subjects - and very little personal information apart from previous jobs and academic qualifications. It is not longer than 2 sides of a page. It is either submitted in addition to a form application or in the place of one, the job specification should indicate which. You make your case for why you are eligible for the job in the personal statement (if it's a form application) or covering letter (if it's not a form application).

References are important and two is the usual number. A university professor and a former boss are good choices. Most times my referees have been contacted by email, so include that information.

It is a good idea if the give a contact email address to send a short note first asking whether they are considering non-EU applicants. If not, you save time; if so, the person who will be seeing the applications now recognises your name.

Oh, and good luck.
posted by Cuppatea at 11:48 AM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Keep in mind you may be able to work remotely. For development work, you can sit in a box at a computer with annoying other cube dwellers, or work from home and just uploading files when they are done. Not all companies will go for this, managers have this thing about being present for meetings. I'm currently working for a start-up that's across the country. I just give them an e-mail or short call every once in a while to keep in touch.
posted by hungrysquirrels at 2:56 PM on September 16, 2009

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