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How a U.S. New Graduate Can Get a Job in the United Kingdom

By Nathalie Lot

Trying to find a new job after college can be daunting in this economy. Trying to find one in another country is even trickier. But sometimes we need a shake-up or a kick-start, and once we go down that road, there is no telling where we will end up.

If you are contemplating hopping over the pond to have a go at living in a country with a long standing Queen, there are a few things you should know.

In order for a U.S. citizen to get a U.K. work permit, you will need to have someone (usually an employer) sponsor your visa. It's not easy and can be time consuming to get all the relevant documentation together, but once you’re here, it’ll be worth it.

As in the U.S., if you have the skills that are being cried out for, the sponsorship and visa process may go a little more smoothly and quickly in the U.K. Taking a look at theU.K. Border Agency Occupation Shortage List, we discuss some sectors that employers are looking to recruit from overseas.

U.K. health and social care employers are in desperate need to fill positions. From health care assistants and nurses to brain surgeons, the health care system is straining under the pressure of being understaffed.

If you are applying to be a nurse, ensure your nursing college program offers 1,500 hours of practice throughout your degree and 2,500 hours teaching time. You may cause a fuss with the U.K. Nursing and Midwifery Council when you register to practice if you don’t fit the requirement. Nurses trained in the U.K. are expected to gain this level of experience before being allowed to graduate. Similar guidelines are there for doctors.

The U.K. also is losing a lot of scientists and professional engineers and can’t train people quick enough to replace them. If you have clinical neurophysiology, geology, oil and gas, mechanical or aerospace engineering skills, you are desperately wanted in the U.K.

Depending on the type of role for which you are applying, you may be expected to have the equivalent of an NVQ Level 3 to a degree in your chosen field. You may also be required to have experience in your industry. It’s best to check what kind of companies are hiring from the States in order to see how easy it would be to gain sponsorship for a visa.

Interestingly enough, there is also a shortage of chefs in the U.K. Unfortunately you can’t just pop over and get a job as a commis chef. According the UKBA shortage list, to qualify for a visa, you need to have at least five years of experience in the industry and be able to go into a sous chef or head chef role. So, dodgy fast food dives do not count.

As with most catering roles, companies usually ask for experience in a similar environment. Even though you have been Head Chef in your local Italian restaurant for five years, it may not be enough for the Hilton to hire you.

The U.K. also is in need of environmental professionals, especially in the green industry, programming and software developers, and mathematics and science teachers. If you have these skills, your next step is to do your research into your specific function and to see whether it's on the occupation shortage list. If it is, research what employer’s requirements are to work in the U.K. Maybe the job requires certain Health and Safety certificates or specific experience that you might not have due to different training systems in the U.S.

If you are already working for a company that has U.K. offices, see if there are any opportunities to transfer abroad. It is slightly easier for companies to transfer current employees than it is for a U.K. company to hire someone from the U.S.

If you fit all these criteria, have found a job and received your visa, it’s time to relax. But not for long, since you now have to organise moving to the U.K. and working your way around the utility and cable services, figure out what your Council Tax is and whether you have to pay it.

On the plus side, you get free health care! Not to mention, you’ll be in a brand new country where new adventures await you.

Nathalie Lot is a freelance journalist in London

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