Written by Samantha Oates-Miller, Careers Insights and Graduate Support Assistant at the Careers Service
Are you an international student or graduate looking for a graduate job in the UK? Here at the Careers Service, we understand that your UK job search can be tricky. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to help you find graduate work in the UK, featuring top tips from some of our international alumni who have secured graduate employment here.
(Continue to) Use the Career Service
The Careers Service is here to help, throughout your degree and up to two years after you complete your course as well. On the International section of our website, we have lots of support, advice and resources to help you find work in the UK after your finish your studies. Our website has lots of resources for international students and graduates to help you find work whether you want to stay in the UK or work internationally.
We also run events specifically for international students and graduates, alongside our events for all. Attending events is a good way to grow your network by meeting alumni and employers. Mia, a 2020 MSc Human Resource Management graduate, describes how she not only “used the Careers Service in order to improve [her] CV” but “also participated in the webinars for international students where [she] was able to meet other international students who also wanted to stay in the UK.” The Careers Service has some international network groups that you can join to start growing your network, including the International Careers Facebook group.
All students and graduates can use the pathways, book a CV or application review, and interview simulation appointment on CareerConnect. You can use CareerSet to review your CV, and practice video interviews using Shortlist.Me. Owen, Technology Management for Business, 2021, reiterates how important practice is when preparing for the recruitment process, and says his top tip is to “practise, practise and practise. Use the Careers Service’s plethora of mock interviews and online tests.”
Talk to alumni
For Titus, a 2020 Supply Chain and Project Management graduate, talking to alumni “really helped [him] understand the skills and attributes which companies in the industry look for not only in the UK, but also around the world.”
Owen agrees, “The sooner you can talk to alumni who have been through the job-finding process in the UK, the better. Get second opinions on your CV for example, or reach out to alumni working in the industry to ask what the process is like. Leverage your network. If you don’t have one yet, start building it.”
Talking to alumni who have found work in the UK can be a good way to get advice. Use LinkedIn to connect with graduates who work in sectors you are interested in and ask them about their application experience. Was there anything they did that they felt put them ahead? Or was there anything they wish they did during University, or directly after, that they feel would have set them up for success?
Organise your job search
Owen advises treating your job search like a university module. “Finding and applying for jobs take a lot of time. Treat it as a university module – give it the time it needs. Don’t do it when it’s almost bed time. Set aside time in the week to do your online tests, interviews, and assessment centres, and apply for firms early on.” By organising your week to include time to apply for jobs, you avoid rushing applications, and you will still have time for university, work or leisure activities.
Mia, suggests that you “form a clear strategy before job searching…Blindly submitting your CV will waste time and affect your confidence in the job searching process.”
Organisation is a key transferable skill that is very valuable to many key graduate recruiters. Find out how to develop and demonstrate your organisational abilities on our Transferable Skills pages.
Maintain your (English) language skills
For some international students and graduates, the pandemic has meant fewer opportunities to speak in English, meaning you might feel less confident in interviews or assessment centres. Uyen, a 2020 Management graduate, says, “As an international student during lockdown, I found the inability to communicate verbally very challenging. Thus, I had to find other means to practice spoken English, including having frequent calls with friends and attending online networking events. Doing so helped me to maintain my confidence in my English-speaking ability.”
You can practice your verbal communication skills in English by attending online employer events, career fairs and alumni panels, as advertised on CareerConnect. Want some more ideas to improve your language skills? Read this blog for a range of resources to help you practice and improve.
Gain UK Commercial Awareness
You will find commercial awareness cited in many graduate job descriptions, both in the UK and across the globe.
Avni, LLB Law with Politics, 2015, recalls how she boosted her commercial awareness by research. “Research was crucial. One way I could stand out was by clearly conveying my knowledge of the role, organisation and industry. My top tip for graduates would be to research using a variety of resources, including the organisation’s website and social media, rankings, testimonials, and industry specific news.”
Do research into the specific sectors that interest you. Explore the websites of accredited bodies for journals, newsletters or events and sign up to events and fairs with relevant employers on CareerConnect. Try to get some work experience; a placement, virtual work experience or part time job can help you learn commercial awareness. Finally, subscribe to Finimize a free tool to help you learn about different financial markets and what they mean.
Understand visa options
The international pages on the Careers Service website have lots of information about the types of visas you might need to work in the UK after study. Use the UKCISA and the UK Visas and Immigration websites to understand the different routes in more detail.
Two of the most common routes available to graduates are the graduate visa route, which allows graduates to remain in the UK for two years (3 for PhD graduates) without the need for sponsorship, and the skilled worker route, where you a sponsored by an employer to do a job that meets a minimum skill and salary level.
Avni describes how she “crosschecked the organisation against two criteria. The first criterion would inform me of whether my salary at the organisation would be above the threshold for a skilled worker visa, and the second would inform me about whether the organisation I was interested in applying in was on the list of visa sponsors on gov.uk. By doing this, I ensured that my time was being best utilised, by applying to only those organisations where I had a genuine chance as an international applicant.”
If you need specialist advice on visas, you can search for an immigration solicitor by location and legal issue that you need help with on the Law Society’s website. You can also book a free, 30-minute appointment with Latitude Law, a specialist immigration law firm based in Manchester.
Finally, don’t forget that you can book a Careers Guidance appointment to discuss any questions or concerns you might have with a Careers Consultant, receive advice on finding graduate work in the UK, and get support for your next steps.