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Quantity Surveyors and Construction Professionals Coming back to the UK from Overseas

As a specialist recruitment agency that works in the Middle East, Far East and the UK markets, you can imagine that we have resources and worldwide market expertise that many competitor agencies will not.

Our global presence as a specialist in the recruitment of construction professionals means that despite my focus being within the UK sector, the candidates that I work with are not exclusive to residing in the UK.

Instead, I work with a significant number of Quantity Surveyors and Claims professionals wanting to return to the UK after finishing their time working internationally.

As I have mentioned in previous blogs, the UK market is buoyant and there are a number of opportunities for returning expatriates as well as for overseas nationals. However be wary that if there is an equally capable Quantity Surveyor who has worked consistently within the UK market, they may beat you to the punch, and this is why;

Potential Negative Impact of Working Outside the UK for Too Long
I have been successful in finding numerous expatriate Quantity Surveyors work back in the UK over the past 6 months. The experience of working on large projects overseas in locations such as the Middle East and Far East is highly valued experience within the UK.

However despite this being the case I have also had feedback from my clients that candidates who have worked overseas for 'too long' and have become 'too unfamiliar' with UK procedures or innovations in construction could find it harder to find work back here than candidates who have just had brief stints overseas.

This could be particularly true if you have worked for local unfamiliar companies to the UK market or in less well known construction markets overseas.

There are many factors that will be reviewed in relation to your CV's suitability and length of time overseas is only one of them, however it is something that you need to be aware of when considering the right time to return to the UK.

If this risk applies to you, here are a few thoughts on  this issue :

1) Put more detailed summaries of your overseas experience in your CV. The company you worked for or the project you worked on may be unfamiliar to UK hiring managers and where there is uncertainty it is easier for them to reject the CV than seek clarification.

2) Use a specialist Recruitment Consultancy such as ourselves to represent you - Maxim Recruitment specialise in overseas recruitment as well as UK based construction recruitment across the UK, therefore our consultants are more knowledgeable than the average UK recruiter on overseas companies and projects. Therefore we can better understand and therefore better sell your experiences to UK hiring companies that may not be so familiar. For example, I sit opposite a colleague who works solely on the Middle East sector and therefore I pick up lots of useful information on that market such as the more reputable employers and major projects.

The Importance of Face to Face Interviews
Another point I want to raise is a logistical factor. It's no secret that face to face interviews are more popular with decision makers than doing interviews via telephone Face Time or via Skype. It may well be that you found work overseas purely via a telephone interview however this is less common in the UK. A face to face meeting is virtually essential to secure a role.

It may be that an initial telephone interview can be arranged to have an exploratory chat in the first instance, but that will rarely be enough.

A way to counteract this is to be 100% committed to flying back to the UK for a face to face interview in a timely manner.  You should express this from the outset and make provisional plans to travel.

My advice would be to contact a recruiter a month or two before your next planned trip to the UK. If you haven't planned one already, then do so shortly after speaking to the recruiter. The recruiter can then make companies aware of your intentions to be in the UK when introducing your profile.

With companies getting harassed by some UK only recruiters with mediocre UK candidates, we would like to help capable expat candidates compete for UK jobs as much as possible.

Salary Expectations
Candidates returning from overseas positions need to take a realistic approach. Why would a company pay more for a candidate that isn’t as easily accessible, has no recent UK experience, and in some opinions is more of a risk than a locally available candidate? You may have worked on enormous projects in the Middle East or Australia, however, you will no longer be in the Middle East or Australia, and you may be competing against other surveyors who have recent UK project experience.   How useful  and applicable are your  special skills gained overseas? If they are not useful or applicable then you  will not be paid extra because of them – or maybe you need an expert construction recruitment consultancy like Maxim Recruitment to find you the ‘best fit’ role – perhaps on one of the major projects happening in the UK.

I am not at all saying that you need to take drastically lower than the next candidate or lower than the market rate in the UK - however what you need to understand that the UK has a 'market rate' that may be different to where you currently work. This is especially true where candidates are coming from hardship positing and / or tax free locations.

Use a specialist construction Recruitment Consultant to advise the market rate and more importantly, take their advice! A good recruiter will tell you if you are being unrealistic and advise what is realistic. Don't always rely on what a 'friend' tells you they are earning as being the market rate. For one, do you have the exact same experience as your friend? Secondly, we all know how we like to exaggerate our earnings. There's a good chance that they've added a bit on to their actual salary to make it  look more impressive.

UK Positions With Overseas Elements
I have a number of clients at present who work on overseas projects from a UK base. This means of course, that the overseas experience can in fact be looked upon favorably. These companies include cost consultancies, claims consultancies, and main contractors.

If you are relocating back to the UK due to personal circumstance but love the idea of still traveling and working overseas,, a position such as this where you are based in the UK and dealing with overseas projects could be a great transition back to the UK market.

To summarise, we are very keen to speak to overseas candidates returning to the UK as the resources on the ground in the UK are scarce – however, not so scarce that you should expect higher salaries than the UK employees already residing here, and not so scarce that you won’t be expected to commit as much as you reasonably could for a face to face interview. As always, apply via our award winning website for jobs matching your qualifications and experience and I will help as much as I can to find you a great construction job in the UK!

Adam Cadwaladr
Maxim Recruitment
London & Midlands Region
UK Office

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