Work in the UK – Winchester & Southampton
Advertising at Southampton Airport (Parkway)
The Search for work:
While we didn’t expect it to be easy to find work in the UK, we didn’t expect it to be ‘not so straight forward’. After a week of recovering from jet lag (14 hour flight from Singapore knocks you for 6 when it’s broken sleep) and exploring our new surroundings; we knuckled down to start applying for work. While the jobs were numerous, it was the weeding out of location, experience and likability that took a while. It seemed that no matter how narrow your search was, you’d still come up with the most random, unrelated options. It also took some deciphering as terminology here can be different from that in NZ.
The trouble was that a lot of positions were advertised through agencies, something that isn’t quite so common in NZ. Not many employers seem to advertise and recruit themselves. The odd ones that did would quite often specify for no agencies to contact them; that they would only accept CV’s directly from people. We’ve found, in our experience, that agencies, or at least the ones we dealt with, were quite inept. With regard to Simon’s applications, they would ask what his skills were and which programs he could work with, the answer was ‘well I’ve listed that on my CV’.
We also, both, received calls from agents on our UK cell phone numbers, only to ask if we were still in NZ – it’s like well, what do you think, you’ve rung a UK number and given the time of day, if we were still in NZ you’d have woken me up, what do you think? It did become quite frustrating; as to how stupid they really were. Harsh but very true. We hope there are better agents out there than who we have come across.
One Down, One to Go:
Simon started working in Winchester for a small company, who advertised the position themselves and was offered the job on the spot, in April. It was about 6 weeks after we had arrived. As we were still staying at his mum’s, it meant he would be commuting, while the fare wasn’t onerous it does add up and for Simon it was a very long day, hence the move to Winchester. It was 6 weeks of commuting and long days by the time we moved up to Winchester.
Inside Southampton Central walkway between platforms.
Just before we moved to Winchester, Sara was offered a job in Southampton; however this position was with the Ministry of Justice and thus required police checks – before she could start. This was understandable and easily obtainable from NZ Ministry of Justice at no fee; but it was going to take time.
The agent Sara had been dealing with hadn’t spotted this on her file when offering her the position and it was someone else within the office that noted this, only informing Sara two days before she was scheduled to start work – hence our description of incompetence in dealing with agencies.
It was an agent in another team of the agency, commercial, that saved the day, setting up an interview with a construction company for admin the Friday afternoon (the day we moved) – this resulted in being offered a position. Therefore Sara finally started working 3 months after arriving in the UK, down in Southampton.
Simon walks to work now and Sara commutes via train to Southampton.
Southampton is a pleasant city, it borders the upper end of the Solent, has a mall for convenient shopping on the way home, as well as Ikea to pop into for household items needed to make our little room functional. Both the initial and subsequent jobs were/are within walking distance of Southampton Central train station, with Costa and Starbucks coffee conveniently located along the way to get the odd morning coffee treat.
The train system for commuting is not too bad. Simon did encounter some delays with striking and short staff back in May. The Line through Swanwick being affected more so than up to Winchester due to it being not a common/regular route. The trains from London Waterloo/Basingstoke are fairly regular and have not resulted in delays, only a couple of times.
To summarise – while it took time and was a little difficult in getting work, it doesn’t help when people whom you would expect to know what they’re doing, don’t – therefore we recommend you have your wits about you. Gain as much information as you can, cover all contingencies, other than just having your required visa to be eligible to work. And don’t assume people know what they’re doing. We’ve come to look at all this as a learning opportunity for the English. Hopefully for people following in our footsteps the kinks have been ironed out.
S & S