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WORKgateways UK e-newsletter

Monthly e-News for the UK Working Traveler

24th February 2003 Volume 1 Issue 4

WORKgateways e-newsletter is written for UK working travellers whether you are in the UK, impatiently awaiting your departure date or thinking about going in the future….scroll down to view this month’s topics, articles and info.


Introductory Comments: Thoughts on the world of contracting in the UK

What’s New: past issues of WG e-News are now on-line @

In the UK!

In Australia…

In Every Issue:


Introductory Comments – Contract work in the UK

What makes me think of dissecting the idea of contracting work? Because everybody wants contracting work. Nearly everyone, it’s true. If you are going to the UK to work there is probably a 7 in 10 chance you have your heart set on contracting work. Is there that much contracting work in Australia and New Zealand? No. It must be a different market. It is. And the truth is that the match can work beautifully. Aussies/Kiwis and South Africans head over in numbers that would make permanent positions for all of them impossible. Can you imagine the resultant bloated and sluggish workforce (the numbers not the people!)?

Contract work can be good for an economy, helping employers manage their skills requirements and adding new ideas to the company. Yet, contract work does inject uncertainty (what if there’s a project but no people, what if my contract ends and there isn’t another?) but that is part of a free market that can change with the times, not after them. In essence, the proliferation and success of contract work in the UK is what makes the UK work experience what we know it to be. Most of us are not travelling overseas for security and stability. We want the possibility of higher pay rates, the excitement of different employers, projects and locations; that spice, that uncertainty….

But wait; there is an important sniff of reality, an essential balance that has to be considered. We forgot to ask the question: is there enough contract work for 7 out of 10 new arrivals? Well…no there isn’t.

Next month: The Joys of Permanent Work. (And there are some definite benefits you should consider.)


In the UK!

Engineering Industry Spotlight: Site-based positions – for consultant, contractor and local government authority

Many engineers need to choose: which will it be? Air-conditioned design office comfort or the dusty drama of on-site work? For many the choice is clear, or dusty, from day one. Still others switch after a few years, and some engineers find a happy medium in roles that encompass both.

Site work - while currently slightly slower due to unseasonably wet and cold weather, come Spring 2003, it will be booming again in the UK. Traditionally the jobs spring back with the Easter Bunny’s appearance but particularly good, or bad, Spring weather can affect exact project timing.

Positions exist within construction contractors of all sizes, local authorities and some engineering consultancies. With consultancies, the role of consultants’ site representative is held by only a few in each office. Local authorities, the jacks of all trades, often combine a bit of site work and a bit of office work into each role. As always, surveying skills are highly sought after as young British engineers are often expected to do undertake this task early in their career.

Particularly in demand last season, and will be again this year, are the following positions for building and heavy civil projects of all kinds from fit out, refurbishment, and new-build to general civils:

  • Site Engineers
  • Sub Agents
  • Finishing Foremen
  • Graduate Engineers
  • Site Managers
  • Contracts Managers
  • Project Managers

*Often Project Engineers and Managers with consultancy backgrounds in building construction are in high demand. Site Managers from trades backgrounds (preferably carpentry) are also highly sought after.

Keep an eye on the coming Spring weather like every other Brit and be sure you are ready to go for the onslaught of site contracting positions to get the pick of the bunch!

Comment: Contract vs. Permanent in the UK: Part I – Contract

Note: In the last issue of WORKgateways’ UK e-newsletter we looked at the various options associated with opening a bank account in the UK. Since then the 1st Contact banking package option we mentioned has been reduced in price to AUS $55. Details online -

Part I – UK Contract Work Pros and Cons

Pros: flexibility, possibility of higher earnings, varied work, time for travel, potentially lower tax, chance of over-time pay.

Cons: variable availability of work, no guarantee of timing of next contract, potential for less fulfilling office environment and chance of lessened responsibility compared to permanent staff.

It’s not a myth that contract work pays more. It usually does in the short term. Over a full year of employment, a contract rate is usually higher than its salaried job equivalent. However one needs to take into account how much of the year will be filled with contract work and how much time is spent on holidays and waiting for the next contract. It’s not always easy to tell for how long your contract will last or for how long you’ll need to wait for the next one. In a permanent job, companies are far more interested in your professional development, which can be highly beneficial for you. A salary package including a car can occur in a permanent offer while very rarely will be offered to contractors.

Many of WORKgateways candidates travelling to the UK would initially prefer to take on some contract work upon arrival to get a feel for the job market and life in general in the UK. They then plan to consider joining one employer on a permanent basis afterwards.

Wouldn’t it be great if you could just choose? But…

Factors affecting availability of contract work:

· Employment market at any given time – many recruitment industries in the UK are seasonal including town planning and construction. There are definite peaks and troughs in the availability of contract work. When contract work is scarce on the ground it is usually compensated for by the presence of permanent positions – so keep an open mind!

· Your competition – you are one of many new arrivals seeking work. At certain times of year numbers of arriving candidates are larger than others, making competition sometimes quite fierce. February is very busy (spend Christmas at home, travel through Asia and land in London for February) as is June/July (soak up the southern sun before heading north for the brief but festive British summer season).

Currently, as this is being written, many industry sectors are experiencing shortages in both contract and permanent employees. If you are currently looking for work – you won’t be for long. However, be aware of the current market situation in your area and keep an open mind to a good permanent offer. In some sectors particularly construction and rail, permanent jobs seem to be more common at the moment.


Top London Tip: Leisurely Sunday at Primrose Hill

Rather than the boozy afternoon or evening crowd (though there’s nothing wrong with that!), this pub caters to a different set.

Built in 1810, The New Inn is not so new. Its cosy décor includes wood panelling, green leather, and shiny brass bar fixtures and on Sundays they have live blues or light jazzy style tunes. Devour Sunday roast with all the trimmings or if you’ve only just risen, eat up a big English brekkie. Mellow, relaxed and jovial; go for the food, return for the atmosphere.

Note that there are excellent value-for-money B&B rooms located on the second floor.

How to get there: Less than 10 minutes walk from St John’s tube station, Jubilee Line. Regent’s Park, Primrose Hill, London Zoo, Lords Cricket Ground are all within easy walking distance.

Where exactly: The New Inn, 22 Allitsen Road, NW8 6LA, Phone: 0207 722 0726


In Australia

Your UK Resume: Writing your CV for the UK job market - what you’ll need to know

FAQ: What is the difference between a CV and a Resume?
Answer: None.

A CV, or curriculum vitae, is the same as a Resume. They are both summaries of your personal details, education & qualifications, skills, work experience and general interests. CV is term you’ll hear used most often in the UK.

Preparing your CV for the UK

General Tips:
1. This is the year 2003. Recruitment consultants nearly always email candidates’ CV’s to their clients. PLEASE email your CV’s to WORKgateways rather than fax. This is to your advantage. If a hard copy is required you will be asked for one. Plus you’ll save some trees.
2. While always being clear and concise in your writing, remember that Recruitment Consultants need to see more, rather than less information on your CV so that they can better understand the extent of your experience. They can then find possible matches with their job vacancies. It is a fine balance. Better to err on the side of too much rather than too little with a Recruitment Agency.

Best Format

1. At the top: Full name followed by address, contact numbers (crucial) and email address. Always include your contact details whilst travelling. Not being able to get in touch with you regarding a suitable job is frustrating for your UK Recruitment Consultant.
2. You can write a short summary at the top if you like, but it is not necessary. Your summary should be specific to the type of work you are seeking. On what type of position and employer are you most keen? Are you fairly flexible on location? When are you available to start work? Highlight your key industry and experience areas, any industry software should also be mentioned. Try to keep it short; about six lines at most!
3. Employment experience in reverse chronological order. Be sure to include a description of specific duties and responsibilities.
4. Using dot points as much as possible will help you to present a clear and concise picture of your work experience.

Resume Do’s

1. Include the names and contact details of three referees. Two must be previous managers or supervisors.
2. Recruitment Consultants and employers are often wary of long or unexplained gaps in employment history. Put specific dates of employment for each job you have listed on your CV. Explain any break in employment whether it be for travelling, study etc. Month and year is sufficient for a date except for very short-term contract work.

Resume Don’ts

1. Bother to write a long and flowery personal statement. It often gets skimmed at best. It’s the dates, job titles and facts in general that matter most. Besides, your references will rave on about your virtues for you!


In Every Issue:

Trip Idea #4: Lisboa

To a Spanish speaker, it’s a disturbing occurrence – it sounds so much like Spanish, yet no meaning can be found. It’s Portuguese! It’s Portugal, and it’s the capital Lisboa sitting sea-side gazing west across the Atlantic towards the Americas. After a not so successful world conquering campaign (except for emerald Brazil – that biggest jewel in the Portuguese’ 16th century crown) Portugal has long since retired from voyages of discovery. It’s actually hard to blame them for staying at home; a beautiful sliver, which deprives much of Spain from feeling the refreshing currents of the mid-Atlantic, Portugal is gorgeous and friendly.

For a quick break from London, the capital Lisbon, or Lisboa in Portuguese, makes a natural choice. Nearly every glance reveals a patiently waiting photo opportunity; castle rampart in 4 o’clock shadow, swaying palm in ocean breeze, crumbling manor in canary yellow, lazy cat on patterned tile. Indulge yourself on the delicious fresh seafood from which you’ve been suffering a northern European induced withdrawal. Be sure to spend ample time exploring the historic old town: Rossio and Praca de Figueira.

To get to the beaches take the train from Cais do Sodre station north along the coast to Estoril and Cascais. Girls don’t wear your one-piece swimmers or you’ll feel like a right granny next to those skimpily clad girls from Ipanema.

Beware: There is a surprisingly cold mid-Atlantic ocean current, at odds with the hot sun and sand, that seems to bathe the coast just north of Lisbon in the iciest water. Note that locals did not seem to notice this at all.

Stay: Try to stay in a guesthouse or B&B, even if a little overly rustic. The western style hotels often provide little character and can be dingy anyway. Try the Family Macedo B&B for rustic charm and good prices; it is a 5 minute metro ride away from the old town centre. lists this B&B’s website as well as other options.

Fly: BA, Air Portugal or Virgin Express from about 70 Euros one way. Always check for specials.

When to go: July is hot. Spring (May to June), is lovely as is the early Autumn. Avoid cold winter rains – haven’t you had enough of that?

Stuff you might like: Links List – to help plan your trip to Portugal

Your Say: email your say to

Do you have questions, comments; is there anything you’d like to see addressed in WORKgateways e-newsletter? Please email with any comments.

If you like what you’ve read – send this to a friend!

In the Next Issue: 24th March 2003

  • March Industry Sector and Jobs Updates
  • Contract vs. Permanent: Part II – Permanent
  • Weighing up your UK job offer – how to decide

Trip Idea #5 – Southwold and Bury St Edmonds. Tell me your great trip idea at (I would love to hear from you as my stock of great travel ideas is depleting! Tell me where it is, how to get there, when to go, why it’s great and where to stay.)

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