For a tourist or stranger, London can often feel like an extremely intimidating place – millions of people moving at a fast pace, constantly jostling and competing for space, whether that is on the pavements or the underground.
It can often feel the same situation for a jobseeker, competing against hundreds of others for one position, trying to stand out in a large and relatively faceless crowd.
These conditions have intensified of late, as the recession has led to redundancies and constricted the number of vacancies.
Jes Ladva, regional director of the Recruitment and Employment Confederation and a director of recruitment firm Synarbor, said the London jobs market differs from those in other cities around the UK.
“It is more competitive,” he explained. “Probably the main difference we find is that there are many more job opportunities for people in London, but that is negated by the fact that there are more people competing for those vacancies as well.”
Focusing on the positive aspect of Mr Ladva’s comments, the good news is that there are jobs out there.
Indeed, London is an extremely diverse market with huge amounts of business generating opportunities in related areas.
For example, in the City area, the major banks, stock exchange and legal sector have created a corresponding thriving hospitality sector, as well as support services such as IT, retail and health.
Another advantage is that salaries are usually higher in London.
The latest survey from Morgan Spencer found that a director’s Executive PA can earn up to £38,000 a year in the capital, with the average salary for this type of position standing at £33,500.
Bilingual secretarial staff can expect a minimum salary of £27,000 in London, which could rise to £32,000.
In addition, a secretary with sixth months’ experience will typically earn £18,000, with the possibility of earning up to £24,000 in their second job.
In terms of bookkeeping, a ledger clerk can earn up to £24,000 in the capital, while an individual who has undergone accounting courses in London and is partly qualified can expect a salary of up to £35,000.
An accounts assistant, meanwhile, can earn up to £26,000 and typically expect to take home an average pay packet of £24,000.
Phased Jobseeking Strategy.
However, the question is, how do you go about getting a job?
“I think the tried and tested things like tenacity are the key skills.
You need to persevere, people need to be much more proactive,” suggested Mr Ladva.
He added that patience is particularly important for jobseekers, who need to understand that searching for work is a long process.
They should be prepared to move up the career ladder and perhaps enter a firm at a lower level in order to work their way up.
“They may not be able to get their first choice, first time round so it’s just about looking at second and third choices,” Mr Ladva explained.
He said that jobseekers should be selective about lower level vacancies, however, to make sure there are opportunities for career development so that they will be able to move up from that position towards their desired role.
“It’s more of a phased approach, there’s an adjustment period. You may not get what you want straight away, but if there’s enough of a correlation, it can lead onto something else,” Mr Ladva added.
As well as using the correct strategy, they also need to ensure they have the right training and qualifications required to get the job, he said.
“You’ve got to have a stronger skill set in order to get the jobs that are on offer,” he explained, emphasising that jobseekers should ensure that the kind of training and qualifications they have are relevant and desirable.
So for example, anyone who undergoes a legal secretary course or general secretarial training needs to make sure they have learned about the likes of Microsoft Office and typing skills, while if you have been on a bookkeeping course in London then you should come away with experience of balancing accounts.
“It can go pretty far, but it needs to go hand in hand with employer needs,” he concluded.