Finding a job and working in England

Working in the UK
Updated 2023-11-27 13:26

Whether you are looking to boost your career in the UK or start your business, there are many professional opportunities for new graduates and mature candidates. The UK job sector is diverse, and working conditions are modern, making the country a popular destination for international talent. The employment rate stands at 75% in 2023, representing 32.88 million people in the workforce. 

Long-term and short-term work visas in the UK

Depending on your nationality, the type of work you will be doing in the UK, and the contract you have signed with your employer, you must apply for the relevant long-term or short-term work visa. There are very few exemptions of cases that don't need a work visa to live and work in the UK. There are five kinds of long-term work visas, the most popular being the points-based Skilled Worker visa. On the other hand, if the company you work for, let's say, in your home country, has a branch in the UK, your employer can employ you in the UK with a senior or specialist long-term visa. Also, the UK has eight short-term work visas for temporary or seasonal workers. The Youth Mobility Scheme short-term visa is an excellent opportunity for people under 18 wanting to gain international work experience.


For detailed information about work visas in the UK, check out's article on professional visas in the UK.

Useful link:

Check if you need a UK visa

Employers in the UK

Employers who want to hire expat professionals and foreign talent must obtain a sponsor licence. Even if an organisation wants to bring someone from outside the UK to do unpaid work (e.g., offering services to a charity), the organisation will still need a sponsor licence. Sponsoring an employee doesn't mean they will automatically be issued a work visa to live and work in the UK. Employees will still have to collect a certain amount of points to be eligible for a work visa.

To get a sponsor licence for your business, you have first to check if your business is eligible (i.e., your business doesn't have a police record, and your previous sponsor licence has not been revoked in the past 12 months). There are two types of sponsor licences: the worker licence for long-term employees and the temporary worker licence for temporary workers. As an employer, you can apply for one or the other. Last but not least, you will need to hire someone (or a dedicated team) to manage employees' sponsorships and the entire process with the help of the government's sponsorship management system (SMS) tool. Once these steps are completed, you can apply online and pay the fee.

If your application is approved, you will receive an A-rated (full sponsor) licence, allowing you to assign certificates of sponsorship. Earning an A-rated licence is one thing; keeping it is another. An A-rated licence may be downgraded to a B-rating at any time if you do not continue to meet your sponsor duties (e.g., check your international workforce's skills and qualifications and have proof of them, issue certificates of sponsorship for jobs that are suitable for sponsorship, and inform the UKVI about employees who aren't complying with their visa conditions). However, you can still issue certificates to old employees who want to extend their visas. Employees whose employer loses their sponsor licence or they don't renew it can be affected depending on whether they are in the UK or outside the UK when the change occurs.

Good to know:

UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) has the right to visit your business to check whether it meets the conditions for the sponsor licence. A sponsor licence is valid for four years, but an employer may lose the licence at any time during this period if they don't meet their sponsor's responsibilities.


If your licence is downgraded to a B-rating, you won't be able to issue new certificates of sponsorship until you've made improvements and upgraded back to an A-rating.

Useful links:

Apply for a sponsor licence

List of licenced organisations

A job applicant's right to work in the UK

Jobs in the UK

The biggest industries in the UK that offer the most work positions are banking and finance, insurance, engineering, healthcare, education, recruitment, and HR. Other important sectors include metals, chemicals, aerospace, shipbuilding, motor vehicles, food processing, design, the arts, and electronic and communications equipment.

In the UK, several job titles are notably popular, including accountant, business analyst, data scientist, HR manager, sales professional, nurse, social worker, software developer, teacher, and project manager. If you're seeking employment within a multinational corporation in the UK, consider exploring opportunities at well-established companies such as Unilever, AstraZeneca, Royal Dutch Shell, BHP, Rio Tinto (in mining), GlaxoSmithKline (in pharmaceuticals), and HSBC, among others. Despite the mass privatisation in the UK, the biggest employers remain the publicly-run NHS (the biggest employer in Europe with 1.4 million skilled employees), the British Army, and the British Government Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

Good to know:

The UK term “Zero-hour contracts” refers to employment contracts that do not oblige the employer to commit to a minimum number of working hours.

Good to know:

According to The UK 300, the most popular graduate employers include Google, Amazon, Microsoft, AstraZeneca, Apple, and Deloitte.

The UK government's skills shortage occupations list shows that the shortage occupations for the Skilled Worker visa route are health managers, domiciliary care managers, nuclear scientists, biochemists, geologists, archaeologists, civil, mechanical, and electrical engineers, veterinarians, architects, etc. For jobs in the arts sector, your search should focus on London, whereas for jobs in marketing, Birmingham and Manchester are probably your best bet for boosting your career.

Useful links:

NHS jobs

Careers in the British Army

Work for DWP

Getting a job in the UK

There are numerous ways to seek a position in the UK. Some of the most popular methods include internet research, spontaneous job applications, recruitment agencies, temporary employment agencies, job adverts in the press, and networking. Developing a professional network is crucial since many vacancies are not advertised, and job seekers learn about them by word of mouth.'s UK forum is an excellent tool for getting out of your comfort zone and putting yourself out there. You can use the forum to inform people about the type of work you are looking for or to inquire about vacancies and future opportunities.

Speculative applications are always worth a try, especially when wanting to work for a smaller business where employers are more hands-on and can develop a rapport with each employee.


Before looking for jobs in the UK, familiarise yourself with the British labour market through's dedicated article.

For most job applications, you must send your CV and cover letter via email or fill out an online application form via the organisation's job application platform. Check out's article about preparing for a job interview in the UK, and find out more tips about adapting and writing your CV and cover letter according to UK standards. Remember to keep both documents clear and concise while communicating your ambitions and motivation!

Looking for jobs in the UK

Here are some ideas about where to search for job vacancies in the UK.

The media in the UK

Start by having a look at classified ads in the local newspapers. Many job vacancies in the UK are advertised in the media. Here are some options to explore:

The Internet in the UK

You can also have a look at global and local job websites. Some are specialised in posting job vacancies regularly, whereas others only update their listings occasionally. You can also register or submit your CV on these websites to make it easier for employers to contact you. Here are some top options to consider:

Good to know:

Jobcentre Plus is a government agency that is also part of the UK Department for Work and Pensions. You can contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus about benefit claims and your National Insurance number.

Job fairs in the UK

Numerous career fairs are organised frequently in the UK, especially in large cities, so consider visiting as many as possible. Career fairs make it easier to meet recruiters from various economic sectors. All you need to bring to the job fair is your CV and a positive attitude, and be prepared to initiate conversations with the industry or company representatives you are interested in working with. It's very likely to get hired after attending a job fair as many employers keep their eyes open for candidates that fit their organisation's culture before they even inquire about qualifications and experience.

Useful link:

Free upcoming job fairs across the UK

Recruitment agencies in the UK

Your chances of finding a job in the UK are high when you visit the local job centres, which will provide you with an updated job listing from several top industries. They also provide the support needed, from selecting a job offer to getting hired, as they fully understand administrative procedures for finding work as an expat.

Many employers also turn to recruitment agencies to secure a faster hiring process and candidates with expert knowledge. The recruitment agency supports the organisation's HR team by skimming through the many applications and recognising the top candidates who will be contacted for an interview. However, besides being costly, recruitment agencies aren't great at spotting candidates who are a good cultural fit for organisations because their selection process is based on qualifications, skills, and professional experience. A recruitment agency wouldn't look very much into comparing a candidate's goals, values, and vision against the company's.

Working in the post-COVID-19 era

All employees have the legal right to request flexible working and have worked for the same employer for at least 26 weeks to be eligible.

International surveys show that working from home has increased productivity and has improved the quality of life and work–life balance for many employees. Of course, not all jobs can be transferred online. Office-based jobs in the finance and IT sectors are much easier to do from home than manufacturing, factory, hospitality, and retail jobs.

Working from home isn't equally accessible for everyone. For example, mature professionals (aged 40) who have climbed the career ladder already and earn more money are much more likely to be allowed or even encouraged to work from home than young staff members who are now beginning their careers or doing an internship.

Work culture in the UK

In the UK, the working week is between Monday and Friday, usually from 9 AM to 5:30 PM, with one 30-minute lunch break, usually taken at noon or a bit later. It is up to the employer to decide whether they want to pay the employees during the rest break, but the law doesn't oblige them. However, employees cannot work more than 48 hours a week unless they make an agreement with their employer or are paid overtime. Also, employees are entitled to four weeks of paid annual leave, paid sick leave, and maternity and paternity leave. In addition, there are eight bank and public holidays in England and Wales and nine in Scotland.


If you take more than seven days in a row as sick leave, you must show your employer proof of illness from a medical professional.

Starting a new job in the UK

Usually, when you start a new job in the UK, you go through a one-month, three-month, or six-month probation period, depending on the seniority of the role. Both parties (the employer and the employees) can use this time constructively to understand if they are a good fit for each other. During the probation period, both parties can terminate the contract, giving short notice.

When starting a new job, check with your employer to contribute to social security from your monthly salary towards your UK state pension. In addition, ensure that your employer has issued insurance for you that will cover you in the event of accidents and injuries at work or illness due to work. To boost your state pension, you can register for a company pension scheme (if offered by the company). Last but not least, the National Minimum Wage is updated on 1 April every year. Currently, the National Minimum Wage for employees aged 23 and over is £10.42. Once you start earning money from employment or self-employment, you must pay 20% Income Tax if your earnings exceed £12,570.

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.