With my to-do list, computer and steaming cup of coffee, I get settled into my favourite comfy spot. I have a list of tasks in front of me with the entire day to complete them. I take a moment to relish that sweet, special joy that only a day off can bring. A couple weeks ago this would have been my boring, monotonous morning routine with the words “job search” in all caps, highlighted at the top my list. However, having finally landed my first job abroad (yay!), I now get to fully appreciate this uneventful, wonderful day.
Securing a job in Scotland took a grand total of two and a half months. In reality, I was quite surprised by how similar the job searching process was to what I am accustomed to in the States. However, being aware of the minor differences made the entire process flow much more smoothly. Here’s what you can expect:
The best UK job-hunting sites I encountered were Indeed, Reed and Gumtree (the equivalent of Craigslist or Kjiji for the UK). Gumtree tended to have lower-level positions, however it was definitely worthwhile to browse daily. If you’re looking exclusively for positions within education, the only site worth knowing is MyJobScotland.
However, I mostly just utilized these sites as a reference as to who was hiring. Each time I was called in for an interview, it was because I had persistently called the companies or stopped by the coffee shops to drop off a CV (“resume” to us North American folk). I always made sure to stress that my working visa lasted for two years and was ready to give my desired hours, availability and starting date (as they always asked).
The main difference between a CV and resume is beefing up the previous work experience details and adding some references. After submitting my application and CV, I learned the most crucial task was following-up.
Shamelessly, I would telephone companies, visit cafes and even offices reminding them that I was still available and keen to work there. Although it was a bit (okay, extremely) awkward I popped in Contour Café a month after dropping off my CV to alert them I was still available. The next day the owner contacted me and less than a week later I had a trial shift.
Trial shifts, trial shifts, trial shifts! This was the biggest different between applying for a job in the States and Scotland.
Out of five interviews (two cafes, a restaurant, an analytical lab technician and head of tours for a brewery), all of them progressed from the interview stage to a trial shift.
What you do is obviously dependent on the industry, however typically you are shadowing and completing small tasks to see how you fit into the position and atmosphere. For bigger positions (i.e. head of tours), I was expected to design and lead a tour. Essentially, it’s a chance for employers to make sure you can walk-the-walk instead of just talk-the-talk.
Although working at a café is not the total dream for a freshly graduated biochemist, the attractive hours, opportunity to learn a new skill and flexible, laid-back atmosphere make it a pretty great first job in Scotland. I still have time to travel and can continue applying for more career-advancing positions. I have started to make some local friends and truly cherish the fact I am no longer just spending money without making any.
As I continue to job-hunt in Scotland it’s important to remember what’s worked so far—call or apply in person, be annoyingly persistent and be ready to shine in your trial shift. Happy job hunting!