Working in the UK


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While the UK employment rates are solid, with the government National Statistics Office recording unemployment rates of only 3.8% in June 2023, there is ample opportunity for you to find either skilled or unskilled work.

Job market

The UK’s economy is dominated by service industries, including but not limited to:

        • Retail.
        • Hospitality
        • Professional services.
        • Business administration.
        • Finance.

Indications suggest that there is currently a skills shortage in the following sectors:

        • Healthcare.
        • IT.
        • Cyber Security.
        • Engineering.
        • Hospitality.
        • Education.

The UK Government compiles a specific list of job shortages to attract overseas workers. To see the current list go to GOV.UK.

Finding a job

There are many different ways to look for employment; check out GOV.UK – National Careers Services for more details.

Gaining experience

An excellent way to understand any role is by gaining experience. You can do this via:

    • Internships
      • Temporary paid or unpaid fixed period of work experience.
    • Work placement
      • Typically, unpaid fixed periods of work experience arranged via a college or directly.
    • Work shadowing
      • Observing an employee in their day-to-day responsibilities. Usually very short term.
    • Volunteering

Job application process

There are various stages in the job application process depending on the type of job you are applying for. Typically, the process can include the following:

    • Curriculum Vitae (CV), also known as a Resume.
      • A summary of your education, qualifications, and work experience.
      • Recruiters typically use an applicant tracking system (ATS), looking for keywords to rank a CV on how best they meet the job requirements. Matching your CV vocabulary to that used in the job description is useful.
      • Many recruitment agencies and online sites offer free advice on preparing a CV. It is a good idea to take advantage of this free guidance.
        • TGIUK – provide guidance upon application
        • Prospects.
    • Application form
      • Designed by the recruitment agency or company seeking to fill a position.
      • Includes competency-specific questions in addition to CV information.
      • For more information on application forms and how best to complete them go to
    • Covering letter
      • Some companies ask for a cover letter in addition to a CV and/or application form.
      • Allows for a personal introduction explaining your suitability for the position and personal interest in the company.
      • For free advice, go to Prospects.
    • Interviews
      • Interviews can be done in person, online via Zoom, Skype or Teams, or the telephone.
      • Depending on the job, the process may only involve one interview. For other positions, it might involve a series of interviews where applicants are shortlisted until a final decision is made.
      • Interviews can be conducted either one-to-one or by a panel with multiple interviewers.
      • For more information on preparing and acting in an interview, go to GOV.UK – Interview advice or Prospects.
    • Psychometric testing and assessment centres
      • Psychometric testing is a series of individual online personality tests and aptitude tests.
        • To prepare for psychometric testing beforehand, visit GOV.UK or Prospects for advice.
    • Assessment which takes place over several hours with other candidates, includes individual and team tasks and activities to test suitability for the job.
    • Languages
      • You may need to demonstrate your proficiency level in the English language. To understand the conditions, reference GOV.UK – Skilled Workers Visa.
      • Having a second language may increase your job opportunities.

Employment status

This is your legal status at work, and it affects your employment rights. You and your employer must understand your employment status so everyone knows their rights and responsibilities. For more detailed information on these categories, access the GOV.UK – Employment Status or ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, an independent public body partly funded by the government.

Employment status for tax purposes is not the same as employment status for employment rights purposes. Use HMRC’s Check Employment Status for Tax Tool to check employment tax status.

According to the Employment Rights Act 1996, there are three common types of employment status. For more detailed information on rights and responsibilities for all these categories, access the GOV.UK – Employment Status or ACAS.

  1. Worker

This type of category includes the following.

    • Casual or irregular workers.
    • Agency workers.
    • Freelance workers.
    • Zero-hours contract workers.
  1. Employee
    An individual who works under an employment contract with additional rights and responsibilities than workers.
  2. Self-employed
    A person who runs their business for themselves and take responsibility for its success or failure. It can also include.

If you fall under any of the categories below and are unsure of how you fit into the above three categories, contact the Acas helpline, and they may be able to assist.

  • Zero-hours staff.
  • Bank staff.
  • ‘Gig economy’ (i.e., working through online platforms).
  • Work experience placement or internship.
  • Fixed-term or rolling contract.
  • A piece worker.
  • Peripatetic (have no fixed work base).
  • Employee shareholder.
  • Locum worker.

Directors, officeholders, and volunteers

Find information on the rights and responsibilities of these categories on GOV.UK.


You may need a visa to work in the UK depending on your status and nationality. In January 2021, following Brexit, the UK Government introduced a single, global immigration system –the New Points Based Immigration System. To find out if a visa is required and the type of visa, visit GOV.UK.- Work in the UK

Online help

The UK Government has a detailed site on careers with links to many different aspects of working in the UK.

Making career choices

Getting a job

Progressing your career

Further information and helplines

  • Welcome – a guide for refugees – while aimed at adults recently granted refugee or Humanitarian Protection status in England after claiming asylum, it contains useful information for anyone moving to the UK.

Last updated August 2023