- Purchase the complete Expat Arrivals United Kingdom Guide (PDF)
The United Kingdom is a leading global economy and has one of the largest GDPs worldwide. It is also one of the most globalised economies and among the world's largest foreign direct investors.
The UK's decision to leave the EU saw the pound fall to its lowest level in more than 30 years, while Brexit has also led to labour, food and fuel shortages. That said, it is still too early to determine the long term impact and extent of the crisis and much will depend on trade-deals and other negotiations in coming years. Many in the private sector are optimistic about the UK's economic outlook.
Job market in the UK
As is the case in most developed countries, the economy of the UK is overwhelmingly fuelled by the strength of its service sector, which accounts for almost 80 percent of its total GDP. The most prominent service sectors in the UK are banking, insurance and business. Manufacturing is also a major contributor to the UK's economy. In addition, many important players in the aerospace industry are based in the UK and it is also home to a number of prominent pharmaceutical companies.
Finding a job in the UK
Ideally, it is best to look for a job in person while in the UK, but expats will generally need a visa to enter the UK and there is no visa specifically for job seeking. While it's possible to enter on a visitor's visa, expats aren't permitted to look for work on this visa. In order to apply for a work visa, expats will need to have a job offer in hand. Naturally, this creates something of a catch-22 situation that is tricky to navigate.
The best course of action in the case of expats unable to look for work from within the UK is to contact British recruitment agencies relevant to one's profession. Networking on websites such as LinkedIn and browsing job portals can also be helpful.
Work culture in the UK
The British are generally reserved and pride themselves on good manners and behaviour. Business dealings are generally diplomatic, with everyone making an effort to be considerate and polite. Communication is restrained, directness is avoided, while evasive, cryptic and sometimes humorous statements are substituted for what’s actually meant. You’ll need to become adept at understanding these subtleties.
The business sphere is formal. Dress is conservative, punctuality is paramount and outward displays of emotion are seen as distasteful.
Many businesses have moved towards an egalitarian approach where positions parallel each other. As a result, responsibilities and hierarchies can sometimes be unclear, which can be frustrating for expats used to explicit directives and a culture of subordination.
►For those planning on starting up their own business, Doing Business in the UK is essential reading.
►Work Permits for the UK provides an overview of the legal requirements for working in Britain.
"If you are looking for work here my advice would be to talk to people. So many people I know here have found jobs through friends and acquaintances. Having transferable skills will count for a lot as well and be prepared to work as a temp for a while. Many offices prefer to trial people on a short-term basis before hiring them on as permanent staff." For more insights from Allison, a Canadian living in Manchester, read her interview with Expat Arrivals.
Are you an expat living in The United Kingdom?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to The United Kingdom. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global can tailor an international health insurance plan to perfectly fit the needs of you and your family. With 86 million customers in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.