Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Finding a job in London

What opportunites are available for Irish people, and how can candidates impress employers?

Mike Coleman, Will Norton and Derek Byrne of Sonas Recruitment with Alison O’Gorman of the London Irish Centre.

Mon, Jul 29, 2013, 00:01


Will Norton

Will Norton is founder and managing director of Sonas Recruitment, a recruitment company based in Dublin and London which provides opportunities for professionals in the UK and other international locations. Here, he analyses the jobs market in London and offers advice on how jobseekers can improve their chances of securing the perfect position.

Despite salaries remaining broadly static, the London jobs market is at its healthiest since 2008. There has been a recent surge in new positions created by UK employers, with the latest Reed Job Index, compiled using data from over 10,000 employers, showing the annual growth in new jobs is now more than 17 per cent.

New job opportunities in the UK are up 65 per cent from December 2009 levels with transport and logistics, strategy and consulting, and engineering and construction sectors leading the recovery.

These industries are closely followed by the IT and telecoms and leisure and tourism sectors, with all of the above having over twice the number of job openings compared to 2009.

Salaries are down approximately 4 per cent on 2009 levels with the social care and legal sectors the hardest hit, where wages are down an average of 27 per cent and 18 per cent respectively. Unsurprisingly, the banking sector has seen the biggest decrease in job opportunities; however, salaries have performed well in terms since the crash, increasing by 12 per cent. The standout industry in terms of recent salary increases has been retail, with a 15 per cent increase over the last four years.

Three important tools for international job hunting

Seeking opportunities internationally can be a daunting prospect but the difficulties associated with it can be overstated. Once the basic tools at your disposal are utilised to good effect, your chances of being successful are greatly enhanced.

1. CV

Surveys have shown that the some employers take less than 30 seconds to scan your CV so it’s critical that it makes the right impression, both in content and appearance. Here is a brief CV checklist that we recommend our candidates use before any applications:

Tailor your CV for each application – Every CV should have an overview, introduction or summary tailored to the specific role you are applying for. It shows that you are seriously interested in that specific position and company;

State a strong, clear vision for your future – This is where a large proportion of Irish candidates come unstuck. Companies abroad want to see your short-term future is committed to them;

Emphasise your achievements rather than your responsibilities in your previous positions. It clearly demonstrates your ability to any prospective employer;

Include a photo – Candidates should include a professional yet personable photo. It personalises your CV and subconsciously bookmarks your application in the reviewer’s mind. Black and white photos can look great on a CV;

Including a London address and UK phone number shows serious intent on the applicant’s part and greatly increases the chances of a recruiter placing you in front of employers;

Hyperlink – Hyperlinks give a CV tremendous depth and are an absolute must. Whether it’s a link to your LinkedIn profile, blog or online portfolio, hyperlinks greatly enhance a CV.

2. LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become, by far, the most powerful weapon in the job-seekers arsenal and is especially useful for international job hunting where personal networks aren’t as strong. We recommend the following for improving your profile:

Similar to your CV, your profile should include a personal summary that is clear and concise;

Keyword loading – Optimising your profile for searches is critical. Loading your profile with keywords associated with your desired role will return your profile in searches by recruiters. If you do not want your desire for a new role to be blatant, it is a good idea to embellish your profile with subtle keywords such as ‘seeking’, ‘opportunities’ and ‘new challenges’. Otherwise, being explicit with the fact that you’re are actively looking will attract the attention of hirers;

Professional photo – A professional photo adds personality to your profile;

Increase your visibility- Joining relevant groups and being active in group discussions can increase your footprint within industries and can drive traffic to your profile;

If you wish to be particularly proactive about exploring new opportunities, don’t be afraid to ‘reverse headhunt’. This essentially means identifying suitable companies or individuals to directly contact through the LinkedIn messaging functioning.

3. Networking

The biggest difficulty in job hunting internationally is lack of networks in a new city. To overcome this, joining networking groups can help you build contacts almost instantly. In London alone, there are several fantastic organisations such as the London Irish Graduate Network, the London Irish Business Society, the London Irish Construction Network and the Irish International Business Network to name just a few. Utilising the search function on LinkedIn can be a great way to identify suitable networking groups and meet-ups. It’s a good idea, once you’ve decided to make the move, to attend these networking events before fully relocating. And finally, don’t underestimate how willing fellow expatriates are to provide help and advice – they were in your shoes once too.

What we do

Since the economic crash in 2008, Irish companies and professionals have become increasingly mobile and active in exploring international opportunities. Sonas Recruitment is an Irish-owned company headquartered in London, with offices in Dublin, working with some of the most enterprising Irish businesses and talented professionals seeking opportunities in the UK.

A large proportion of our clients are Irish companies expanding internationally, so we are seeing first-hand the success they are enjoying here in London, which shows no sign of slowing – the recent Enterprise Ireland Market Access report showed 178 high potential start-ups from Ireland are making the UK their priority market in 2013.

Although a recent surge in Irish-based companies contacting us seeking to bring home internationally experienced professionals suggests Ireland’s recovery is gathering pace, some of our brightest and best and are continuing to flourish on the international stage. Irish professionals are finding that talent, combined with the right attitude, transcends borders and cultures. Given its proximity to Ireland, there is no greater platform for career development and no greater hub of opportunity than London. A large percentage of those that contact us are looking internationally, not out of necessity, but out of choice. Entering the London market for them is not an imposition, but a strategic decision.

For more about the jobs market in popular destinations for Irish workers, see previous Generation Emigration features on Australia, Canada and New Zealand.