Disclaimer: I do not believe in one of the terminologies I used in my title. “Third-world” is not only inaccurate, but it is also insulting to us citizens who are from there — and proud. So now, why did I use it? A headline scoring system gave me statistics that that title is more catchy than “How Did I Apply for a Job with A Resident Card”. So, Long-explanation-short, it’s a form of clickbait. But, also, because the content of this article is exactly about the aforementioned title I chose to use.
To give you an overview, I recently moved to the UK to be with my husband. I’m from the Philippines, and we have been doing the long-distance thing since 2018. At that time, seeing each other every 3 months worked perfectly. My job then required me to work 47+ hours weekly, 24/7 on-call, with five days annual paid leave. Nice, huh? But, the requirements of my career left little room for uninterrupted leisure time. So, the LDR arrangement wasn’t too bad. Also, I’m super lucky that my then-boyfriend was willing to travel almost 7,000 miles every three months to spend three weeks with me!
Photo credit to Alexandr Podvalny from Pexels
We knew that the long-term and sustainable plan for us is for me to move to England. I have a better chance of adjusting and getting a job than him moving to the Philippines. Fast-forward to 2021, after a lot of difficulty with the immigration process, I’m officially a legal resident of the United Kingdom.
These are the realizations in navigating job postings as a non-citizen in the UK:
There’s a pool of employment opportunities.
When I received my official residence card stating that I am permitted to work, I must have sent out nine applications within a two-day period. I didn’t expect that there would be a lot of vacancies, considering the current employment rate. I tried (and still am) my luck in customer and administrative jobs, remote work content writing, and even shoot my chance in marketing communications (although I am trying to avoid that role). But, hey, I’m not picky. Being in a completely different country, my top priority is getting a job somewhere to immerse myself in the British workplace. There’s no language barrier for me, but there is a comprehension obstacle between American English and British English.
I continually doubt my qualifications.
Is it a byproduct of colonial mentality? Shrinking to the idea that I will be keeping up with British citizens? No, it's not that. Because I had the same doubts when I started to apply for freelance writing gigs for the first time. I was convinced I was underqualified. Underqualified to produce an 800-word article about why resumés should be proofread or how graphs are easy to make without Excel. Such basic topics that I can write in under 30 minutes, yet I still thought I wasn't good enough.
Photo credit: David Jakab from Pexels
It is overwhelming
I did say there are vacancies everywhere. I made sure to get e-mail notifications for the roles I'm keen on. And it is very overwhelming. I would get at least 33 vacancies every day, and on top of the freelance gig I'm currently doing, I sift through every single one, then send my application to every other listing. It's a lot. But hey, I'm not complaining.
Some hiring requirements and processes are tedious.
Okay, I am well aware that there's been a shift in job opportunities vs applicants who actually want the job. In real estate logic, it's an applicants' market. So, why do recruitment teams make it extra complicated for applicants to apply? Forty per cent of the jobs I tried applying to came back to me with extra steps that are not necessary: creating an account with a third-party recruitment website, uploading a photo, typing in every single employment history, putting in my grades from high school (which was well over 15 years ago) and college, etc. Unless I wanted the role bad enough, I don't bother.
Out of the nine (and counting), I have applied so far, two have been responsive. The closing date for the applications is not for another week, so who knows if I will even get the job by then. But, getting my foot in the proverbial door of job applicants is a decent enough step. We all gotta start somewhere.
Let me tell you, though; it really is not easy starting over at 33 years old. I've always been career-driven. But changes like this( (and a pandemic) makes you truly realize that there is more to life than prestige.