Career Tips

Making Room for ʻuʼ in our ʻLabour Marketʼ

By Paul Diamond

Happily thereʼs plenty you’ll be familiar with if youʼre a US Citizen wanting to work in the UK. Stuff that matters in the US labor market – commitment, determination, the willingness to get out there and compete with the best of them – matters over here in the UK too.

You will notice some differences if you do make it over here. Our traffic flows the other way, it will always seem cloudy [unless youʼre from Seattle] and free refills in restaurants are rare. Apart from that many of the same rules apply but it might surprise you to learn that as an American you have an edge in the UK labour market. I call it the away-team advantage.

Away-teams always have further to travel, so when they show up it says a lot about their desire. In the real-world, employers like to know why you want to work for them. The fact youʼre a long way from home is one you shouldnʼt hide. Tell a would-be employer why youʼre there. Be open about your reasons whether they are personal, professional or a mix of both. I guarantee they will be listening.

There are other away-team advantages but now I want to focus on your resume. We don’t call it a resume over here in the UK, we call it a CV. [In case youʼre interested, CV stands for Curriculum Vitae, which roughly translates from Latin into English as, ‘course of life’].

Despite their different names a CV and a resume are essentially the same. Both tell their readers the same things about their owners. Both answer plenty of important questions for employers. Both are absolutely essential when you want to find work.

Some people argue about the differences between CVs and resumes. In my experience a good resume makes it clear who you are. It explains what you’ve done and informs its readers about what you want to do now. A good CV does all these things too. You’ll be pleased to hear the word ‘resume’ is becoming more widely understood in UK recruitment but using the word ‘CV’ instead proves you’re paying attention.

Resume vs CV, Labor vs Labour, Fall vs Autumn – I forgot to mention you’ll be learning a new language if you come over to the UK. More than one famous writer has described the US and the UK as, ʻtwo countries separated by the same languageʼ ¹ or two nations, ʻup against the barrier of a common language ². If you spend any time at all over here you’ll realise just how right these people were were and how this difference doesn’t just apply to words and alternative spellings.

There can be a real difference in the way language is used and what words mean between our two cultures. In the back of your mind – although I’m pretty sure it’ll barge on up to the front every now and then – go easy on yourself and remember youʼre learning a new language.

If you’re not sure ask questions, get opinions, make lists and come back to things if they don’t make sense first time around.

[In the meantime, here’s a job seeking example to think about: A recruiter or job description says, ʻWe’d like someone educated to degree levelʼ. Sounds like only someone with a degree should apply for the job but the word ʻlikeʼ in this sentence doesn’t always mean ʻwantʼ or perhaps even ʻneedʼ. What that sentence usually means is, ʻWeʼd like to hire someone with a degree but if you prove to be the best candidate, weʼll hire you without oneʼ. In other words, the right candidate may not have a degree. He or she might have specific work experience or they might just want the job more than anyone else. I guess what I’m saying is donʼt be afraid to ask questions and apply, apply, apply!]

I’m going to highlight one final language difference before inviting your comments on this subject. Itʼs an area I think US citizens have an unfair advantage in – especially if you’re already over here in the UK or perhaps thinking of coming over.

As Americans, to us Brits you all seem fluent in the language of ‘can do’ and it’s something youʼre admired for. Sure you’ll ask questions like everyone else but then you’re quickly looking to get things done. You’re keen to know how something can be fixed, made easier, done better or moved on from. You’ll go beyond just what’s necessary – particularly if it means you can satisfy a customer or make someone’s day. Perhaps you’ll make the odd mistake or two along the way but these are rarely intentional, plus you can always learn from them. In the UK we’re learning this language too and we need all the help we can get from native speakers just like you.

[¹George Bernard Shaw] [²Dylan Thomas]


Paul Diamond has always been linked to the choices we (as individuals) make about work and that’s where he wants it to stay in the future. Before 2007 he worked internationally, focused on interview, assessment, technology and recruitment, spending hours with a wide range of people as they told their career stories and made decisions about the future. In 2007 Mr. Diamond set up KEEP Consulting Ltd, a new talent & career management business to support employers and employees alike. Since 2008, he has been writing and hosting the work/life fusion blog, which gave him his first taste of publicly exploring the subject of careers and work. With plenty of help and support, over the last year he wrote The Career Explorer’s Journal and on Friday 7 May 2010 the book and website were launched. Home for Paul is in the UK, with his wife Nicki and  daughter Eleanor. You can find Paul in the same place Dave Isbell found him, on Twitter:!/career_explorer


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