Temp Work in London
December 15, 2003 3:14 PM   Subscribe

How does one go about finding a short-term job in London? [more inside]

The law school my girlfriend is attending has a semester-in-London program, which she will be eligible for in spring 2005. This dovetails nicely with my need to take a year off of graduate school (in English, if you're curious). So I'm going to be tagging along with her to London for January through June, 2005. To pay the bills, I need to find a job, obviously. There's something called BUNAC, which, for a fee of a couple hundred dollars, will take care of the paperwork and visa and whatnot, but I'm still left with the task of finding the actual job. A friend of mine who was looking into something similar says that it's extremely difficult for foreigners to find jobs in Britain, as employers are required by law to give priority to natives. So what do I do? Any suggestions?

Any British MeFites who can actually hook me up with a job will be recompensed with alcohol and/or hookers...
posted by UKnowForKids to Work & Money (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I spent a summer (1994) in London on the BUNAC program, and ended up temping for most of the time, which was much more lucrative than the burger-flipping work most of my compatriots were doing. I had the impression that seasonal and temporary work didn't fall under the same restrictions as long-term employment, but that's just a guess.

If you want to make a reasonable amount of money and line something up before you arrive, you might want to look into the temp agency angle. During 2004, register with (and, if possible, do some work through) some temp agencies in the US that have offices in London. If you establish a relationship with them now, then as the trip approaches, they may at best be able to put you into an assignment over there, and at worst give you a good recommendation to the people in their London office.
posted by staggernation at 3:57 PM on December 15, 2003

If it's your cup of tea, London is never short of jobs in retail. I managed a small shop in London, once upon a time, and employed several BUNAC students at various times. The system seemed to work pretty well.
posted by normy at 4:56 PM on December 15, 2003

I did BUNAC in 99. A lot of folks on the program got jobs through listings at the program offices. Most of it seemed like temp and secretarial, but I recall there being some pub work and retail on there if that's your style. My housemates, for example, were: temp office worker, chocolate shop clerk, bartender, and IT drone. The first three all got their jobs through BUNAC, while the last (me) lined up interviews via the 'Net before leaving the US. I don't recall there being any special restrictions about hiring foreigners over natives. If you're going for anything more than menial labor, though, make sure to let them know about the six-month restriction and whether you'd be interested in staying longer. My company basically hired me for the six months as a trial and then went through the process to get me a formal permit to stay later. (BUNAC doesn't really like you to do this - the program is all about providing cheap backpacker labor and doesn't want to be seen as stealing good jobs from Brits - but they can't really stop you, either.)

Other than that, there's always Loot. Might be a good idea to look through there anyway and see what kind of salary range you can expect...
posted by web-goddess at 5:00 PM on December 15, 2003

I planned to do BUNAC after my college graduation -- didn't end up doing it because my current employer made me an offer and I really wanted to work for them (plus they're a big international company, so there was the prospect of future work overseas.) I was planning to do temp work (or pulling pints if I had to). I'd also recommend Loot or Monster.co.uk or other job boards -- for instance MediaGuardian is the best for media jobs.
posted by Vidiot at 10:01 PM on December 15, 2003

I'd recommend looking up some London agencies - as many as possible. I despise employment agencies, but they can be very effective for finding work fast, and often keep temp. or short-term contracts on the books. Sorry I don't have any in particular to hand, though.
posted by nthdegx at 11:13 PM on December 15, 2003

Hmm... I recruit people in your position in London quite frequently, and wasn't aware that there were any requirements beyond a valid work permit. I don't know whether the BUNAC scheme that you talked about provides you with the right permit or not, but AFAIK there are no other restrictions on recruiting non-EU citizens.

You can drop me a line when you're making your arrangements if you like (email is in the profile) - although of course I can't promise anything, I can definitely see if we have anything going, or at worst point you towards some decent agencies.
posted by bifter at 4:16 AM on December 16, 2003

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions, everybody. I'm glad it's not as bad as my friend made it sound. And bifter, I'll definitely be getting in touch with you - muchas gracias.
posted by UKnowForKids at 12:38 PM on December 16, 2003

I have lived short- and long-term in London a couple of times and found it to be the easiest place in the world to get a job. Sign up with a couple of temp agencies and you're golden. If you have any experience w/banking or trading, go for temp jobs in the City - investment/trading banks pay the best in my experience. Media jobs pay less well, but if that's what you're into, the BBC employs tons of temps in all kinds of positions. My ex did the BUNAC program and had no problems. Living in London (short-term) is a ball - you'll have a great time!
posted by widdershins at 1:30 PM on December 16, 2003

Learn to speak with an Australian accent.
posted by seanyboy at 3:55 PM on December 16, 2003

Learn to speak with an Australian accent.

...but only if you want to work in a pub in Shepherd's Bush...

I'd think about this long and hard if I were you ;-)
posted by bifter at 2:21 AM on December 17, 2003

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