There’s some incredible IT job opportunities in the UK right now. So it’s a great time to head over to get some good experience under your belt. But when moving to any new country it can take a while to understand the job market, find out how it works and where you fit in.
You’ll want to make sure you find a job that is going to give you what you want – from job satisfaction, career progression, to achieving your earnings potential. But being a newbie can leave you vulnerable. Foreign dollars don’t go that far in the UK and it can be tempting to accept an offer just to start work quickly. There is nothing more frustrating to accept a job only to realise you could have done a lot better.
In this blog we will offer some tips and insights to help you understand the UK IT job market and get the job that’s right for you. We will be covering: -
- How to use UK job sites
- Understanding UK IT recruiters
- Tips for getting the best out of UK IT recruitment agencies
Understanding UK job sites
Modern technology makes it relatively easy to look for work online. But in the UK there’s a multitude of UK job sites and online recruitment agencies (over 11,000!). It’s not surprising that a lot of jobseekers arrive feeling a bit overwhelmed and wondering where to start.
Most UK IT jobs now automatically get posted to multiple job boards. So it’s best to find one that specialises in your industry and focus your efforts there. You should be aware that UK Job Sites advertise only a fraction of the total available jobs in the marketplace (IT Contract roles can be as low as 40%), so don’t give up hope if you can’t find much initially. Many jobs are found via word of mouth or come directly to recruiters who won’t advertise a role if they already have someone in mind. That’s why it’s important to build relationships with the good ones. More on this later.
UK job boards are ideal for doing your preliminary research. Firstly, to understand what types of IT roles are out there in your field. Companies in the UK are generally a lot bigger, so you may find roles are a lot more specialised than back home. This can give you opportunity to develop greater depth of experience. But if you have a broad background, it may mean you need to choose which area you want to specialise in.
Secondly, it’s a good idea to look at the requirements for the role and which specific skills are needed. You can then make sure these are reflected in your CV which should be tailored for the role.
Thirdly, job boards can be a useful way of finding out how much you earn. Bear in mind that if a salary or day rate is listed, it is often only an approximate indication. UK IT job sites such as www.itjobswatch.co.uk can be helpful for finding out the median rates for both permanent and contract roles for your area of speciality.
If you choose to apply for roles using UK job boards, remember that you are competing with everyone in the country (and beyond!), many of whom are likely to have more UK experience than you. There can often be hundreds of applications for each role, making it essential that you stand out. If you don’t have any UK experience under your belt this may also put you at a disadvantage as employers often prefer candidates with a proven UK track record.
To help you get short-listed it’s a good idea to identify recruiters for specific roles you are interested in and approach them directly. Don’t be afraid to call them! This way, you have a lot better chance of having your CV read, and being put forward as a preferred candidate.
Understanding UK IT recruiters
As previously mentioned there are many UK IT recruiters, with no one agency holding any more than 1% market share. Many agencies tend to be very niche, focusing on specific industries (or even job roles); others may just service one corporate client as a preferred supplier.
There is no UK industry qualification for recruiters. Anyone can set themselves up and start recruiting, so you will find differing standards of quality and professionalism, (so when you find a good one it’s worth staying in contact!). Many do not have an IT background and things can get lost in translation, so be careful using too much overly technical language if they don’t seem to be getting you.
UK recruiters are incentivised to sell candidates to the people they are really working for – their corporate clients. A good recruiter will look for a win/win, especially if they think you are very hireable because they may want to find you work again in the future. But in reality, UK recruitment agencies deal with huge numbers of candidates and their aim to is quickly find someone their employer will hire, without costing too much time or money. So it’s worth bearing in mind that they may not always have your best interests at heart. Do your research, trust your instincts, and above all, don’t feel pressurised. It’s good to take your time, especially in the early days of job hunting.
Top recruitment tips
Before speaking to a recruiter make sure you are prepared. Research your ideal role online and know what you are worth based on the going rate for similar jobs. The first question a recruiter normally asks is how much you want, so be prepared to quote other advertised roles if they try talking you down. Also don’t be afraid to be specific about the IT job you want, otherwise recruiters may put you forward for roles that don’t really suit you.
Every employer normally has 5-6 preferred recruiters they work with. Each of these will put together a list of candidates for the role. This means even if you get put forward for a role, you will be up against some tough competition (normally 12-13 CVs will be sent to the client for appraisal). Always make sure you know the name of the company you are applying to, as having your CV submitted by multiple recruiters for the same role makes everyone look bad to the employer.
Speed is really important. Often it is a matter of days (or even hours) between applying, interviewing and starting a new job so you need to be mentally prepared for an interview at short notice.
If you’re looking for a UK IT contract, it’s worth knowing that up to 60% of jobs aren’t advertised. If a recruiter knows someone who is a good fit for the role they will always put them forward rather than incurring costs to advertise. The roles that are advertised are often looking for those with a specific skill set, or roles where they are looking to get someone cheaper than the going rate.
It’s important to develop a strong network of good recruiters so that you’re put forward for these unadvertised roles. And by this, we don’t just mean sending your CV and hoping for the best. We mean actually finding out the name of the recruiter for a specific job and having a conversation with them so they understand what you do. Although they work for the employer, they are human beings too, and developing a good rapport will help you stand out and get presented in the best possible light.
UK IT Careers has relationships with many of the top UK IT recruiters and will help you develop your network to access these unadvertised jobs.
If you have any questions or need help finding a UK IT job, please get in touch.