5 reasons to hire an international student

I, like many fresh graduates, received many, many rejections for job applications. I often ask for feedback (unless the company clearly states they cannot give any); but time after time I receive the same one-liner:

You were a good candidate, but we can’t sponsor a work visa.

Indeed, since the end of Post Study Work Visa in 2012, sponsoring an international graduate had only become more difficult – many companies are put off by the restrictions and fees of obtaining a visa license. There are only 29,367 organisations licensed to sponsor migrants in the UK as of today; to put that into perspective, there are 5.5 million businesses in 2016!

Too many companies are missing out on the brightest talents for fear of paperwork. Whilst individuals have their own talents, here are top five reasons why international graduates are well worth the extra step.

Language Skills

Many spend years struggling to learn a second language. International graduates excelled in theirs – English – and often have 2 – 3 more languages under their belts. They come with the cognitive benefits of being multilingual; and are better at multitasking and communicating, just to name a couple.

The global market nowadays means supply chains spread across continents, and it is always handy to have someone that thoroughly understands your international partners’ languages. You will save resources on third-party translators, have more efficient and effective communication, and gain quick trust from business partners.

New Perspectives

People born and raised in the same environment tend to think similarly. Bringing in a person from a completely different culture gives a new perspective to the existing business. To have fresh, innovate ideas on your team will certainly increase the chances of “eureka” moments!

Statistics show a more diverse team outperform the others. Begin fostering a culture that favors diversity in your company through entry level staff; in the long run, talents of different levels will see your efforts and come to you naturally.

 

Expanded Network

Britain is getting increasingly diverse. People from every corner of the world gather in this country to do business. Having international graduates on your team can bring new clients and connections that previously only dealt within their own communities.

These opportunities are not restricted to local expats. International graduates have ties in their home countries, and understand their business culture. In the current market, connections around the world can only be beneficial, if not paramount to an organization’s success.

Flexibility

International graduates have learned to adapt and thrive in a different culture; many of us have built friendships and strong community bonds. The learning style in the UK is often different to what we were used to, but as graduates we have proven our abilities to thrive despite this.

We are used to unexpected challenges – and are quick to adapt to new, exciting opportunities. As professionals, this skill can only grow.

Resilience

It’s not an easy task to move to a completely different country. It’s not easy to do a university degree in your second language. It’s not easy to decide to stay in said country, despite the barriers and challenges.

International graduates are a very special group of people that overcame all these. We are ambitious, courageous, and more than anything, resilient.

All we need is a chance to shine.

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Bonus: New Entrant Discount

Sponsoring a fresh grad is more easy than you think. Employers enjoy many discounts for sponsoring a student that switches from Tier 4 (student) to Tier 2 (work) visa, including:

  • Exemption from conducting a Resident Labour Market Test
  • Unrestricted CoS – not under monthly quota
  • Exemption from the Immigration Skills Charge (£1000 per year per employee)
  • Employee does not need provide an overseas criminal record certificate

For more information: please check out AGCAS’s guide for employers.


Zoe Chan

Multilingual Birmingham Law Graduate seeking full-time role

 

Explaining qualifications and work experience to UK and overseas employers

Why that particular qualification and why overseas

Employers are faced with ever-changing qualification changes, making it a job to keep on top of what study and training will make for the best employees within their company.  For an non-UK student, choosing to study in the UK is a big decision, bringing with it potential of securing more challenging and rewarding employment, either within your country of study, within your home country, or in other exciting global locations. Oversees study brings both the challenge and reward of adapting to regional language variations, the cultural challenges, and collaborating and thriving within new study and project challenges.  Some students may question:

‘Why isn’t every employer fighting to recruit me; a brave, experienced and gifted individual?’

 Meaningful experience during study periods and being confident in previous experience

Employers very much value diverse experience and often non-UK students can underestimate the broad range of experiences that they can take up and later evidence, thus showing employers both competences and attitude to work. At Coventry University I have often explored the types of opportunities students are willing to consider. Whilst directly course related or job related experience is highly valuable, sometimes students need to develop appreciation for the wider range of voluntary, project based or short-term placements on offer.  This can help in telling a real story, showing willingness to integrate and add value within their local or wider community, or work on social issues that may be relevant to a future companies a graduate wishes to work for, or perhaps run as an entrepreneur. Many of these projects can provide inspiration for future university projects, setting up of their own social Enterprises, or lead them to situations where they can network with those working within their preferred future industry.  Starting with less vocationally focussed experiences can often be a pathway to showing employers the commitment needed, which helps them push for later relevant employment, or help employers to commit to providing visa sponsorship for longer term UK based employment.

 The understanding of skills developed, in relation to the jobs market

Broader student experiences, coupled with detailed exploration of future careers, through professional networking and employer events, can make for a richer experience within the UK.  In addition to exposure to new methods of teaching, project based assignments provide valuable ways to link study to future industries and careers.  Meaningful projects provide invaluable ways for students to prove their skills meet the needs of employers. Many employers provide real life project ideas, which universities can use with students or develop into employer sponsored final projects. Course related internships and dissertations also provide ways of demonstrating professional use of new skills.  This can really show crucial new learning, ideas and professional development, set against the needs of UK based and global employers.

Making the story work

I have found that some students can struggle to explain these projects to employers.  This brings the need for the support of both of academics and university employability professionals to help demonstrate key points within a UK CV or overseas application.  Articulating the value of this student experience can be one of the biggest challenges, adding to the pressure of ensuring employers fully appreciate your qualification, relevant modules or the reasoning for selection of a personal project.  Researching key articles and journals to develop ideas and then taking up support offered can make a vital difference in clearly presenting and interpreting ideas within application forms, or when structuring an answer to a key interview question. (see other blog articles for ideas)  Careers professionals and staff connected to University International Offices can make a real difference, especially if the student comes ready with existing ideas and has the flexibility to try new approaches and develop thinking.  This can be the difference in bridging the gap between student expectations and employer uncertainty in considering overseas students.

 

Understanding the options for graduate roles and visa guidelines?

An additional challenge is understanding the employment market to which you are applying, something often home students also struggle with.  Exploring what is a shortage occupation can add increased motivation and realism for opportunities both home and international students consider.  This can enable a student or graduate to offer employers relevant projects, think of ways of presenting their dual country understanding and ability to understand diverse perspective, adding real value to the employer. Understanding the country region or production or technological expertise within global locations may add to their likelihood of succeeding in securing job opportunities.  Professional industry bodies provide excellent ways to network, research and gain additional accreditation for skills, showing a good fit for the UK and also international jobs market.  Many of these industry based organisations, with their international reach, so may provide ways to connect back to home nations, or regions in which a student is seeking work.  Learning how to network appropriately and explore the wider range of opportunities outside of the curriculum is essential for those who are going to succeed.

With all this in mind, it is complex picture an international student is faced with.  As global markets change and different countries reconsider their immigration policies, things may become more complicated. What is clear though, is that those students with the desire to develop their understanding and challenge the initial plans and ideas they had when arriving in the UK, greatly increase the success they have.  This can lead to a thirst for understanding different recruitment methods, genuine employer needs, thus helping networking with those usually outside of their social sphere or industry.  Those with the ability to make use of all opportunities and consistently adapt their approach in the face of difficulty will thrive from the experiences and opportunities presented by UK universities.

Chris Steventon (Careers Consultant)

Coventry University

Careers information for new students

Careers information and tips for new students

Moving to a new country can involve a lot of changes to get used to. Below are several actions that can help you best prepare for your future career.

 

Get your CV ready before you start and get it checked by your careers service

This may seem counter-intuitive so early on in your studies, but getting your CV right early on not only will save you time later, it will also allow you to apply for a variety of opportunities throughout your studies, including insight days, work experience/shadowing and internships. In addition, working on your CV can help you identify your personal strengths and skills and importantly, learn how to articulate them clearly to employers – a key skill in the recruitment process that many people struggle with.

 

Familiarise yourself with the support available

Within your university there will be a group of trained professionals within Student Services who can help you settle in and stay at university. Although there may be some variation between universities, this typically includes:

 

  • International Students’ Advisory Service

Support and advice for prospective and current international students on immigration issues, registration and other related legislation, as well as helping with any questions you may have about living in the UK.

 

  • Counselling Services

Professional, confidential counselling for students experiencing emotional or psychological challenges.

 

  • Disability & Learning Support

Specialist advice for students with physical and mental health disabilities, learning difficulties and other medical conditions.

 

  • Welfare Support

Practical support for managing stressful experiences that students typical face.

 

  • Careers

Help you in deciding what career you want, making a plan to get there as well as supporting through every stage of the application process.

 

There are also other organisations that offer support international students. For example, the UK Council for International Student Affairs (UKCISA) offer advice on visas, immigration and living & working in the UK. The British Council provides information to international students interested in studying in the UK that can tailored to your home country.

 

Engage with your careers service and understand what employers want

It’s easy to leave thinking about getting a job until nearer graduation, however engaging early with your careers service will allow you to maximise your time so you are better prepared for employment in a competitive job market.

 

Not only can your careers service help you decide on a career goal, they you can also work with you to create an action plan to achieve this. This includes researching what employers in your chosen sector want from applicants. Online resources such as Prospects, TargetJobs or resources on your university website can help with this, as can attending events with employers on campus. The Careers Service can also help you identify which of these skills, attributes and experience you already have and plan how to develop the others; for example identifying and applying for relevant internships, employment/voluntary work or student society roles.

 

Become familiar with sector information and vacancy websites, as well as application deadlines.

Websites such as Prospects and Targetjobs, are great for searching for internships, placements and graduate opportunities within the UK as well as having opportunities and information about working in different countries. Your university may also have a system for advertising opportunities both in the UK and in other countries. There are links in the ‘Useful Links and Resources’ section of Midlands International Group website to other resources, for career information and vacancies around the world.

 

There are also many websites that have information about the latest trends/information in your chosen sector, while others advertise vacancies for specific job sectors. For example, if you are interested in being a management consultant, reading Consultant News and Management Today will keep you updated on the industry, while Top Consultant advertises management consultant jobs in the UK, USA and Australia. Keeping updated with latest industry trends can help you be better prepared for your chosen career, and you may be asked about this in a job interview.

 

It is also important to know the recruitment timescales within you chosen career. For example, if you are interested in a career in finance, the deadlines for placements and graduate opportunities are quite early in the academic year.

 

 

 

 

Information about working in the UK

If you are looking to work in the UK at any point you will need a National Insurance Number. Speak to your International Students Advisory Service for help with this.

 

If you currently require a visa to study in the UK and wish to apply for jobs here after your studies, you will need a Tier 2 visa. Not all employers sponsor Tier 2 visas, so it’s important to check prior to applying for a company if they can sponsor you or not. A list of companies that can sponsor Tier 2 can be found at here.

 

Connections, connections, connections…

Most jobs are found through talking to people, otherwise known as networking. There are other really good articles on this website about how to do this well, but in summary:

 

  • Don’t forget to keep in contact with people in your home country if you plan on returning there to work after your studies.
  • Contact people who recruit for the job you want to do, including at career events at your university such as Careers Fairs.
  • Connect with alumni on LinkedIn who work in your chosen sector.
  • Your academic department staff may also be able to introduce you to people in your industry.

 

It can be intimidating to speak to new people and you may not feel you have the time. However, scheduling a small amount of time consistently each week can lead to see some great results.

 

Mix with students from other countries

Surprisingly, there has been feedback from employers that students who study in England return home with worse English skills because they have spent most of their time socialising with students from their home country and do not engage with students from other countries or fully-engage with UK culture. Not only is spending more time with students from other countries a great experience, it can greatly improve both your spoken-English skills and other ‘soft’ skills that employers value – such as interpersonal and listening skills, social confidence, relationship building as well as a more multi-cultural, global outlook. Changes in many jobs mean that people skills are becoming more important, and being able to build friendships with people from different cultures is  a great way to demonstrate this skill to employers.