UK CVs for International Students

You may be thinking of doing a part-time job whilst you study or a full time job in your vacation period.  Or you could be interested in doing an internship over the summer or planning to apply for graduate employment.  If so then it is likely that you will need a Curriculum Vitae.  A Curriculum Vitae or CV can be seen as a tool that you use to market yourself to providers of opportunities you may be interested in.  You may be more familiar with the term résumé and it is likely a commonly used method of application in your home country.  CVs and résumés across the world share many similarities and hopefully by the end of this article you will be clearer on some of the features of a UK CV and where to look for further resources and support.

Tailoring your UK CV:  An important first step for an effective CV is to identify exactly what are the employer requirements (or opportunity provider); the skills, experience, qualifications and personal attributes that you will need.  The potential of your CV to help you to progress to the next round of recruitment, usually an interview, will depend very much on how well you demonstrate that you meet these requirements.  Adapting your CV to make sure that it markets you as an individual who meets these requirements is commonly called “tailoring” a CV in the UK.

Spelling and grammar:  you should aim for 100% accuracy in your CV.  An employer will judge your written communication ability when reading your CV.  An employer may make conclusions on your attention to detail and also your motivation for the role by the amount of mistakes they note.

Contact details:  an employer will need to be able to contact you, usually via email.  But they also may want a telephone contact number.  If you expect to be contacted whilst you are still in the UK you do not usually need to add an international dialling codeEmployers can use your address to judge how easy it will be for you to get to work (your mobility), if you include an address that is outside of the UK then it would be a good idea to indicate in your covering letter your willingness to re-locate or that in term time you are based in the UK.  

Creative CVs: Unless you are applying for a role within the creative industries or one where your creative ability is important you should normally avoid using graphs, colours and pictures etc.

CV templates: Templates can restrict your ability to tailor a CV and common ones found online can be poor.  If you would like to view example graduate level CVs then in the first instance consider contacting your University Careers service.

Do not include:

A photo: it is common in some countries to include a photo on a résumé (CV) however this is not usually the case for a UK CV.  Be judged on your ability not what you look like.

Date of birth/age, gender (male/female), marital status or nationality: the UK’s Equality Act 2010 law means that usually a UK based employer cannot discriminate against you based upon these protected characteristics.  If you require a VISA to work then you could disclose this in your covering letter.

Sources of further information and support:

Prospects and Target Jobs are websites specifically for undergraduates and graduates and include information on CVs, including examples. You can access prospects.ac.uk here and targetjobs.co.uk here.

Academic CVs (that you would use to apply for a role at a university) have a different format and content then the usual CV.  You can find out more about these differences, including examples by visiting jobs.ac.uk here.

Your university careers service website will have lots of useful resources including example CVs. A great way of improving your CV and answers to any specific questions you have is to get some one-to-one advice from an expert.  The best place to start is with your university careers service.  They can also provide you with advice on UK CVs not covered in this article, for example how to produce a UK CV that is tailored for a specific industry or job sector.

By Ben Simkins, Careers Consultant, Keele University

Launching Your Global Career- Webinar Series 2019

The Midlands International Group have worked together to put together an updated series of webinars for you to participate in.  This offer a great opportunity to learn how to adapt your skills and approach, in order to help secure positions, both within the UK, globally and back in your home country.

Visit this link to see the full range of workshops and to access the link to register your place.

MIG-webinar-brochure-2019

If you have any questions about taking part or concerns or problems about registering, please Email midlandsinternationalgroup@gmail.com

Top tips for establishing your own business within the UK and for securing Tier 1 sponsorship?

What are your top tips for helping international students to establish their own business within the UK and to secure Tier 1 sponsorship? 

Establishing your own business is an exciting challenge that many students entertain.  This generation of graduates are considered more entrepreneurial.  We asked a number of staff in different universities who support international students, what their top tips are for students in establishing their business and working towards securing a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur visa. 

Teresa Corcoran from University of Nottingham had the following advice: 

Make sure you familiarise yourself with the support available from the business start-up team within your University. At the University of Nottingham this is called the Ingenuity Lab and they have a range of initiatives you can get involved in, from competitions, to workshops, events, mentoring and  access to “how to” guides. If you are seeking a Tier 1 entrepreneurship visa there are many stages you need to go through to establish your business idea. Seek help early on to allow yourself time to prepare for this.

Kathryn Doerr  from Nottingham Trent University considers the key actions and traits: 

    1. Research, research, research!  You must know the market, as well as the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to your business plan. 
    2. Be passionate! Tier 1 sponsorship isn’t a back-up option.  It requires a lot of dedication , hard work, a comprehensive business plan and a unique idea!  You need to be prepared to work long hours and persevere through set-backs on your way to success.  Having an idea you are really passionate about is a must. 
    3. Network! Building your professional network and approaching stakeholders effectively is key to a successful business.  Your university careers service will have lots of ways to develop these skills, so make sure you engage with them. 

Mark Blaber (Employability & Enterprise Manager) at Northampton University considers the advice he gives to his staff on supporting students: 

  1. Ensure the applicant has given himself/herself enough time

When you’re meeting with an applicant to talk through a potential Tier 1 business idea, ensure the individual has time to go through your internal application process. It takes a while to create a full, credible business plan. Make it clear the student needs to give himself/herself 3 months at least to work on a business plan that will be strong enough for a Tier 1 application. 

  1. Ensure the idea has something different about it

Remember, with Tier 1 business ideas, you need to be more selective. For example, a lifestyle business such as a website designer, or selling pet accessories online won’t do. Ensure the applicant has an idea that is different to what is already out there. It doesn’t have to the first of its kind. However, it does need to advance upon products and services already available. 

  1. Encourage the applicant to create a Business Model Canvas (BMC) before a business plan.A Business Model Canvas (BMC) is a rapid type of business plan. If you feel the student has a potentially strong business idea, but you’re not 100% convinced, ask the individual to create a BMC first. Why? Because it will help to quickly establish what the major problem being solved by the business is, who the customers(s) are and whether the business will generate revenue and profit. The BMC tool will give the student focus as to what the most important questions to ask are about whether the business is going to be viable. 
  2. Provide feedback on the business plan before submission

If you feel the student has a good business idea, and you have requested a full business plan, after you receive it, take time to critically review it and give feedback. Doing so will help the student identify the main gaps and make changes accordingly. 

  1. Have a support programme in place after a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa has been awarded

Getting a business plan approved is just the first part. If a graduate has made a successful application for a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa through your institution, ensure you have a support package on offer for when the individual starts his/her business. Next comes the practicalities of starting a business, such as business registration, purchasing insurance, getting legal contracts in place, networking and sales and marketing. The graduate will need help with all these things. 

Sally Cleere from De Montfort University considers the activities that students can take up to improve their chances. 

Many international students are very entrepreneurial and are keen to establish a business in the UK, however if you’re on a Tier 4 visa this restricts you from engaging in business activities during your studies.  However there are lots of things you can do to develop your entrepreneurial and enterprise skills during your time at university: 

  1. Join a society such as Enactus (http://enactus.org/) which allows you to apply and develop your entrepreneurial skills on projects which use innovation and business principles to improve the world.
  2. Many Student Unions also have student-led societies focused on business or enterprise.  This is a great place to meet and network with like-minded students.
  3. Attend networking events organised by your university’s Enterprise Team to connect with local businesses, graduates and students – perhaps you have a creative idea, but you need someone with business skills to help you turn your idea into reality?  Collaborating with others can help you develop your ideas so that you can build a strong business plan if you decide to apply for a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa.
  4. Get some work experience – whether it’s a part time job, a summer internship or a sandwich placement, work experience will help you to understand how businesses work in the UK.  Understanding business etiquette and workplace professionalism will be really valuable if you plan to set up your own business in the future.

Chris Steventon (Careers Consultant at Coventry University) 

At Coventry University our Enterprise Hub supports international students in developing their business ideas.  They collaborate with our Careers Service, International Office and Centre for Global Engagement to maximise student’s chances of developing the UK based work experience. It is important to develop understanding of UK work cultures and collaborate with UK and other overseas students through ‘Online International Learning’ projects, course projects, cultural societies and leisure activities.  The top tips to support this vision are: 

  1. Engage and explore work experience, volunteering and project opportunities as soon as possible when joining the university. Time is short to gain the in-depth understanding of local and national workplaces, needed in creating realistic business ideas. 
  2. Use the Enterprise Hub activities, Student Union Societies and workshops run by the Careers Service, International Office and Centre for Global Engagement to understand  the development of career and business plans, Tier 1 visa regulations, and to network with other entrepreneurial people. 
  3. Join professional industry bodies, attend conferences and learn how the industries connected to your business idea work.  Labour Market Intelligence is critical, enabling networking at every opportunity, in order reshape, adapt and gain feedback on your ideas and understand the likelihood of them succeeding. 

This blog was put together by Chris Steventon on behalf of the Midlands International Group. 

What are the top three recommended activities, outside of study, for newly arrived international students to engage in?

Arriving in a new country can be daunting, with the challenge of settling into a new culture, developing new study skills and approaches, as well as finding new activities and challenges to keep you happy and make you feel you belong.  Across the Midlands International Group, we asked for the top responses to what the best activities are for newly arrive international students to engage in

 Kathryn Doerr (Nottingham Trent University)

  • Joining a university society can be a really good way of meeting people, making friends outside of your course and developing skills (including English language skills).  It also looks good on your CV.

  • It’s also important you look into the support offered by your institution for international students; for example at NTU we have international support advisers and a ‘Global Lounge’ which hosts cultural events and promotes internationalisation.
  • Finally, it’s good to gain some kind of work experience while you study – either through volunteering or a part-time job.  It can really help when it comes to looking for placements/graduate roles.  Speak to your university’s Careers Service if you aren’t sure how to go about this.

Sally Cleere (De Montfort University)

From my experience, international students who get the most out of studying in the UK are those that really get involved in university life outside of their studies and expand their social groups.  Most universities offer a wide range of activities to get involved in so you will have plenty to choose from to find something that you enjoy.

  • Volunteering – Most universities and Student Unions will have volunteer programmes and signing up to be a volunteer can be a great way to find out about your local community, improve your language skills and gain valuable experience to add to your CV all whilst making a difference.

  • Students’ Union Societies – joining a student society is a great way to have fun and meet a wide range of people to expand your social circle. Whatever you’re interested in, there’s probably a society dedicated to it!  It’s also an opportunity to develop your leadership skills by joining the organising committee.  At the start of term, head to the Freshers’ Fair to sign up.
  • Visit your Careers Service – Many international students want to get some UK work experience but understanding the UK application process can feel a bit daunting. Your careers service will be able to support you all the way through university – from getting started with how to write a UK CV and where to find part-time jobs, right through to your graduate job search.  They also run careers fairs where you can network with employers and workshops to develop your career management skills.

Christian Jameson-Warren (Loughborough University)

  • Get involved in an activity (e.g. voluntary work, fundraising) for a cause you are passionate about. Not only can it be rewarding, but doing something you care about will make it easier to speak to new people and improve your language and confidence skills easier. Plus it does look good on a CV.
  • Join a society. If there’s one directly to your job goal (e.g. politics, finance) it would add value as shows your passion and may provide opportunities to network and learn, but if not getting involved in something you’re interested in is still great. Feedback from recruiters is that students who do not get involved in activities outside of their studies don’t stand out, even if they have studied in a different countries. Joining a society is an easier way to both get into UK culture and get involved in activities you can put on your CV.
  • Any sort of work experience adds value, and getting involved in the activities above can help make it easier to achieve this.

Luciana Akemi Awasa (University College Birmingham)

  • Looking for work or voluntary experience will not only help you to develop relevant skills but it will also give you a great opportunity to talk to local people and develop your language skills. This will boost your confidence in speaking English and it will allow you to immerse yourself in a different culture.
  • Explore your options by talking to a Careers Advisor who can help you to reflect upon what you want and can do after your studies. The career services will also help you with your CV, cover letters and job applications in the UK. They might offer mock interviews which will make you feel more confident and prepared especially in the context of a different country and language.
  • By joining a Guild of Students’ society you can meet new people and share the experience of living and studying in a new country. It will also enable you to learn and understand new cultures. Do not miss the chance of taking part in events and activities that can help you to develop transferable skills (e.g., team-working, leadership, etc).

At Coventry University we would advise international students to quickly gain experience or get involved in projects where they can demonstrate how they are adapting to life, study and work cultures in the UK.   We have a UK Work Experience team set up to explore gaining paid experience and support local businesses in delivering collaborative projects.  Students can gain evidence and a reference for using their skills.

The Student Union is an important body at most universities.  Within Coventry Students Union we have a Sabbatical Officer for international students, exploring the support needed and helping students set up projects.  The Student Societies also help students explore other cultures through society activities and this is supported by the university Culturae Mundi project, where students run culture themed events.

Enterprise is another way in which these students can further develop valuable skills, which can then be later taken into UK or overseas businesses.  A number of our students go on to secure a visa to stay and develop their business within the UK.  Our Enterprise Hub supports students to develop their own ideas. They can also be active within the social enterprises set up through the university.

Chris Steventon (Careers Consultant- Coventry University) – Blog author.

The experts’ advice – home to get a job in your home country

Members of the Midlands International Group were asked what was the best advice they would give to international students looking for a job in their home country. These are their responses:

My advice would be research recruitment agencies and university alumni associations in your home country before you leave, make contact with them and stay in contact with them during your studies in the UK. We have a saying….the early bird catches the worm…

Michele Zala, Nottingham Trent University

Be prepared for reverse culture shock and that it will take anything from 3-12 months to find a suitable graduate position once home.  Maintain your network whilst you are studying and start putting out expressions of interest 3 months before you go home. Be realistic in your expectations of salary and status and think about how you will sell your extra- curricular UK experience to employers.

Ellen O’Brien, University of Birmingham

Reflect on the value you can bring to the role having studied in UK. Your time studying has not only helped you better understand the subject you studied, but has giving you a unique insight into life outside of your home country, so why not use that to your advantage? Maybe there are roles where your enhanced language skills and cultural awareness could be put to use. These could be organisations which have dealings with UK markets, or are international organisations who highly values those who have a wider perspective that only studying and living in another country could gain them. While many people do now study overseas, think about how your experience has helped you develop the skills that employers are looking for, and practice how you could communicate that message clearly when you make an application or during your interview.

James Heritage, Aston University

Utilise the resources in your Careers Service namely websites they’ve subscribed to on your behalf. Resources like: “Passport Careers” or “GoinGlobal”. In Addition “GradLink” have some useful resources for some places like: Bangladesh, Canada, Africa, India, Middle East, Asia etc

Teresa Corcoran, University of Nottingham

It is vital to develop and maintain links and relationships with companies and professional industry bodies back home.  Keep in touch and comment on the articles and blogs being created. Attending online events and basing a university project upon the key issues for the industry/ business within that country, can prove your genuine interest in their needs.

Chris Steventon, Coventry University

We can’t emphasise enough the value of gaining relevant work experience whilst studying. Not only in terms of building your networking opportunities to support your case for staying in the UK but also to show the added value of your UK qualification when you return to your home country. What kudos to be able to say you have real-world insight into UK business because of your work experience! Take advantage of paid placements and internships offered.

Merlinda Charley, University College Birmingham

  • Give some thought to what you already know about the recruitment process in your home country and how you can apply this
  • Use your network! Think about the industry you want to work in and any connections you may have that can help you

Mark Blaber, Northampton University

Use your home based network, friends, family, old employers this will allow you to remain updated on employment situations back home. Make sure to keep yourself relevant to those employers you are interested in,  follow companies on LinkedIn that you are interested in back at home – connect with recruiters for these companies ( but also make sure that you LinkedIn page is good enough to share with them) this will also allow you to keep in mind deadlines for applications etc.

Judy Turner, University of Lincoln

The experts’ advice – finding a job in the UK

The expert’s advice – finding a job in the UK

Members of the Midlands International Group were asked what was the best advice they would give to international students looking for a job in the UK. These  are their responses:

Be prepared to take up a range of positions and opportunities that quickly show your commitment to working and contributing within the UK.  Thinking over more diverse ways of demonstrating your interest in particular industry issues and employer needs can help employers see the research you have done.  This can work especially well if you can write and express succinctly how your previous experience, study specialisms and skills link to their needs.

Chris Steventon, Coventry University

Start early, be targeted in your approach, make the most of university recruitment fairs and UK recruitment agencies. Network, use any Mentors available at the University and contact Alumni from your course (try LinkedIN), especially if the Alumni is an international student who is now working in the UK.

Michele Zala, Nottingham Trent University

Understand the Tier 2 visa rules – UKCISA is a good website to help you to understand the requirements. Ensure you understand the Tier 4-Tier 2 Visa switching process and have the list or Tier 2 sponsors . Student Circus is a website designed to only advertise Tier 2 Sponsored roles (for Tier 4 students)

Make sure you speak to the Careers Service so that you can fully prepare for UK recruitment and selection activities, they’ll have resources to help with: Psychometric testing, job search, interview skills, assessment centres etc.

Teresa Corcoran, University of Nottingham

Make sure that you understand the graduate labour market in the UK – this means that you will have a better understanding of the job roles that you can apply for and the companies that may be able to sponsor you. Attend any session within your Careers & Employability Dept. that will give you an understanding of this. Attend careers fairs and speak with employers directly about opportunities.

Judy Turner, University of Lincoln

We can’t emphasise enough the value of gaining relevant work experience whilst studying. Not only in terms of building your networking opportunities to support your case for staying in the UK but also to show the added value of your UK qualification when you return to your home country. What kudos to be able to say you have real-world insight into UK business because of your work experience! Take advantage of paid placements and internships offered.

Merlinda Charley, University College Birmingham

Make the most of your time in the UK by developing employability skills.  Get work experience of any kind- apply for summer internships and part time work or join Societies.  Aim for fluency in English and educate yourself regarding the UK labour market and which employers recruit international students.  Identify key employers and seek an internship. Use the help offered by your Careers Service especially with preparation for assessment centres.

Ellen O’Brien, University of Birmingham

  • Have a good understanding of the UK VISA requirements
  • Understand the graduate recruitment process as well as the opportunities available to you and where to find them
  • Don’t forget to use your university careers service for information and advice
  • Attend as many networking opportunities such as careers fairs as possible.

Mark Blaber, Northampton University

While a degree is still a valuable asset to have, UK employers are overwhelmed by high class graduates applying for jobs each year. As an international student it is important to consider the additional value you can demonstrate through your application or CV, and be able to offer things that other people may not have. If you are someone who needs a sponsored visa, then you need to demonstrate that you are worth that investment, and that you can offer something that no one else can! So maybe think about doing some of these things:

Many students now see the benefit that undertaking part-time work or volunteering brings when applying for work after University, and a significant placement year available as part of some degrees offers a depth of experiences and on the job work skill development that cannot be gained anywhere else. Experienced workers are often preferred by employers, a degree along is not enough.

Clubs and societies are not just for fun, the network that you create during your studies may help you find work, or encourage you in a direction that you may not currently know about. Many University Societies offer students the chance to meet guest speakers and attend events that would allow you to meet people and make friendships that could influence your career – don’t miss out by not participating!

Soak yourself in the UK culture! It’s sometimes all too easy to stay in our comfort zones and stay within our own community groups. It’s a challenge to make ourselves broaden our friendships and engage with the wider community. Do think about seeking out opportunities to volunteer with local charities or companies, join community projects and whatever else you can find out about to constantly develop your language skills and the region you study in. Your international cultural awareness is a very strong selling point for many jobs!

James Heritage, Aston University

 

How to use your internationalisation to stand out to UK employers

The common denominator when applying for graduate-level jobs is that everyone has a degree, so being able to articulate what makes you stand out from other candidates will give you a large advantage.

The advice and prompts below will help you reflect on and articulate the advantages of being an international student to employers.

1) Check sponsorship if you are a Non-EEA student

This also includes making sure that the companies you want to apply to can sponsor visas. If you are applying to a smaller company that has never sponsored an international student before on a Tier 2 visa, you may consider speaking to them about doing a few months work experience after you graduate using the Tier 5 scheme. However, to later apply for a Tier 2 visa you would have to leave the country and do this from home.

2) Identify the skills you have developed

You can use the questions below as prompts if you are unsure what unique skills or experience you can offer as an international student.

  • Why did you decide to study in the UK?
  • How was your education system and prior experience different to UK students?
  • What were you hoping to gain or develop out of this experience that couldn’t be achieved by studying in your home country?
  • How are you a different person now compared to how you were before you started your studies in the UK? How might you communicate this to someone new?
  • What surprised you most about moving to the UK?
  • How might you share your knowledge of both your home country and the UK through your own lived experience with an interviewer?
  • What are some of the experiences that you’ve had, both at home and in the UK, that have shaped your cultural and global perspectives?
  • Looking at the skills you’ve developed, how and when have you used these?
  • How might you use your international background to re-imagine a problem or see something in a new way?
  • How has being an international student further developed skills you already have?

Answering these questions will help you start to identify skills, attributes and experiences beyond the obvious. For example, you may realise that not only are your English skills improved, but you are more confident and assertive using them in group settings to resolve problems and achieve objectives; or you may have adapted to work proficiency in a different culture or previously studied topics/subjects that other people have not.

3) Identify any concerns/worries you have that might hold you back

You may still feel there are things as an international student that will hold you back in the recruitment process, for example comparing your English skills against home students or that your qualifications and experience from your home country won’t be valued by employers.  It’s important to address these thoughts as they could be holding you back from applying for jobs with confidence, which will be covered in the next few steps.

4) Try understand an employer’s perspective

The first thing here is to consider what the employer you are currently applying to will be looking for in a candidate. This is a simple but effective way of improving your applications. The most common ways to do this is are to look at the job description and person specification on a job advert and researching the company to find out what they are currently doing and (if possible) their future plans and aspirations.

Some questions you could consider include:

  • What would the employer be looking for in my CV?
  • What kinds of qualifications/experience would most impress?
  • If I was recruiting for this post and had a large pile of CVs, what would make one stand out?
  • What is it about my last job(s) that the employer would find most interesting?
  • What is it about the answers to questions in section 2 (“Identify the skills you have developed”) that the employer would find most interesting? Why?

To really stand out (and if you have time), you could also do some extra work to find out what would interest the employer beyond what’s on the job description, for example, understanding what additional skills would add value. Ways you can find this information out include:

  • Informational interviewing with people within the company/industry using  linkedin.com/alumni to ask questions about challenges and future trends
  • Read Labour Market Information to find out what challenges and skill shortages there are in your industry. You can do this through several ways, including read sector profiles on Prospects and TargetJobs. You can also read industry publications and websites.

Once you have done this, you can start to think about how your skills and experience as an international student will help the employer now and in the near future. For example, the ICAEW identified the need for accountants who are skilled working with clients and colleagues from different departments in potentially different countries and time zones. In addition, according to a survey by the Intelligence Unit at The Economist, 90% of executives in 68 countries say cross-cultural management is their biggest challenge.

The second part of seeing things from an employer’s perspective is addressing the concerns you identified in section 3 (“Identify any concerns/worries you have that might hold you back”). Thinking about each concern from the employer’s perspective, how much is this an issue? Why might this be or not be? Our in other words, what might an employer’s worry be or would they not have an worries about it?

5) Impact

The next  step is to think about  putting it all together in a way that will impress the employer. When describing the value you would bring as an international student, try to be as specific as possible to the employer’s needs.

For example, it’s easy to say ‘as an international student, I have experience of working in different cultures’ but this sentence on it’s own might be easily missed. A better way is to explicitly link to what the employer is looking for:

Your job advert highlights teamwork as a key requirement. As can be seen from my attached CV I have demonstrated this skill in my previous job, and through recent group projects as an international student have gained further experience successfully leading teams of people from different cultures. From researching your company, I believe this skill is especially relevant to your increasing emphasis of developing the business outside the UK. 

Now think about your concerns – having looked at these from an employers’ perspective, do you still feel they are issues? If so, how could you address these in a way that would impress them? As an example, if you worried your applications will be rejected because you have no work experience in the UK and are applying for a job that requires a lot of customer service, you might think:

  1. I have excellent customer service experience in my home country, but this was in a different language and although I’m confident in my skills an employer still might be unsure that I can translate these into working with UK customers.
  2. I can write on my cover letter that I have excellent customer service experience and then emphasise that I am skilled at using my English skills in a professional environment by highlighting all the relevant activities I’ve completed, such as leading group discussions and projects, getting involved in extra-curricular activities, customer facing volunteering or part-time work, and so on. By doing these things I can also highlight that am I a motivated, self-reliant individual who takes ownership of my own development rather than someone who might need a lot of help getting used to working in a new culture.

In other words, do not focus on any negatives but instead think about turning your concern into a positive. This can be done by focusing on all the things you have done to work on the concern, as seen in the example above. Employers are not expecting you to be perfect and often will be impressed if you show the right attitude and attributes to do well.

6) Bridge the gap

You may still find that there is a gap in your skills or experience which is holding you back from getting to the job you want. After all, employers want to employ the best candidate. In these instances, it’s essential to make a plan to ‘bridge the gap’. This can include doing professional courses (such as Lynda.com) or getting work experience. If you decide to gain temporary work experience, set relevant goals of what you want to achieve during your time there and review these regularly, for example:

  • Use your language skills in a professional setting as you’ve never done this before
  • Share good practise from the sector in your home country to help your department develop new ideas, so you can understand the value your previous international employment can bring companies in the UK
  • Learn a new computer system that is used in the UK that you have never used before
  • Meet the managers from every other department so you can better understand how organisations in the sector work together, and thereby demonstrate to future employers you understand the different ways of working and where you can add value to them

There are lots of different goals you can set, and even if some are very small (for example, “speak to 5 customers”) they can help you move nearer to your career goals.

7) Get help from your Careers Service

Finally, remember that you are not on your own. You can contact your university’s career service for help with making your applications stand out to UK employers.

Christian Jameson-Warren, Loughborough University

What to do if a UK company you’re interested in doesn’t sponsor visas

While looking for a permanent job in the UK after your studies you may see a job vacancy that really interests you, but unfortunately the company currently don’t sponsor visas. The following steps can help with this:

Start with you –

  • Clarify on a scale of 1-10, how much do you want to work at this company and why. This will help with:
  1. deciding if you really want to invest the time pursuing this option
  2. identifying what interests you in a job, so you’re more aware of other suitable options
  3. speaking to the employer, which will be covered further down
  • Check if the role is eligible for sponsorship. The government’s Immigration Rules manual can help if you are unsure. If you are an undergraduate or postgraduate taught student, please refer to RGF level 6 or above, and if you are a PhD student refer to the appropriate table.
  • Do all you can to ensure you are the outstanding candidate for the job, so that the company would be interested in hiring you. Our posts How to use your internationalisation to stand out to UK employers and The Experts’ advice on finding a job in the UK can help with this. As part of this, we recommend that prior to applying you speak to the employer to ask them a few questions about the job, including finding out more about the main challenges they face as well as current and future projects. Once you have this information, you can think about how your skills, attributes and experience can help them overcome their specific challenges and complete projects. You can arrange an appointment with your careers service for help with this.

The company –

  • A company is more likely to be willing to sponsor you if you are the outstanding candidate and can bring value to their organisation that other candidates can’t.
  • Prior to applying, speak to the HR or recruiting manager to discuss if they would consider sponsoring a via. In the conversation you should include –
    1. Why you are interested in working for them
    2. Based on your research in the previous section, highlight 3-4 key reasons you’d be an exceptional candidate, i.e. why it’s in their interests to consider hiring you and becoming a visa sponsor
    3. As appropriate, share the link to the government’s information about becoming a sponsor https://www.gov.uk/uk-visa-sponsorship-employers
  • If appropriate, you can offer to complete some temporary work for 3-4 months after your studies finish and before your visa expires. This may give you more opportunity to convince the employer to take you on longer-term once they can see how you contribute to the business.

Christian Jameson-Warren, Loughborough University

Networking in the UK when you lack confidence in your English-language skills

Networking is oft-cited as the most effective way to find a job.  Your university careers service will probably have resources on how to do this. However, as an international student, networking with people in the UK can seem daunting regardless of how much you practise your English language skills. The following activities can help:

1) Identify your specific worries

Filling out the table below will help you identify each of your specific worries so you can start to address each:

Situation you are worried about How does this make you feel? What emotions do you experience? What thoughts go through your mind? How does this affect your behaviour?
E.g.Speaking to new people in English E.g. Scared E.g. I will say something wrong. I will make a bad impression. E.g.I won’t speak to anyone new in English
E.g. Not completing my LinkedIn profile to a good enough standard because of my lack of writing skills. E.g. Embarrassed, hurt E.g. People will laugh at or criticise my profile E.g. I won’t use LinkedIn

It is natural to want to avoid situations that might cause negative emotions. However, doing so means negative thoughts are as bad as we anticipate.

2) Test the validity of your beliefs and thoughts.

Using the list above  –

  • For each situation, and think of examples of similar activities that would be less stressful. For example, if you are worried about speaking to someone new in English in a networking setting, you could consider; speaking to students on your course that you don’t know; networking with people who speak your native-language; practising speaking in professional English with a member of the Careers Network; practise asking questions you might ask in the mirror.
  • Give each situation a score out of 100 as to how anxious it makes you feel.
  • Reorganise the list by score, i.e. highest score at the top.
  • Make a plan to do something that ‘exposes’ you to the situation with the lowest score, to test if your beliefs and thoughts are about are correct.
  • Before you undertake any actions, it may help to consider the following questions:
    • How much do you believe this thought? (0-100%)
    • What do you think will actually happen? How likely do you think this is to happen? (0-100%)
    • What else might happen? How likely do you think this is to happen? (0-100%)
    • What may stop you from completing this activity?
    • How can you overcome these potential difficulties?
  • Try the activity, and reflect on what happened. How does this compare to what you predicted? What are the consequences of what happened? How did you feel at the end compared to the beginning?
    • For example, if you felt you would be embarrassed practising networking questions, did you actually feel embarrassed once you got into it? If you did feel embarrassed, did the other person notice or react negatively?
  • As you feel more confident in an activity, repeat the process for the next item on the list.

By doing these activities, your beliefs and thoughts may change in a positive way. If they don’t, there are two other options to consider:

3) Inference Chaining

This technique basically explores how bad something might be. At the most basic level, this entails repeatedly asking ‘what would then happen?’. For example, feeling embarrassed by ‘messing up’ a networking opportunity –

I didn’t create a good impression and feel I failed.
What would then happen? That person won’t help me in the future.
What would then happen? They will probably forget about it eventually. I will get over it eventually too.
What would then happen? It doesn’t affect me speaking to people at other companies, and now I’ve tried once I know how to improve next time.
What would then happen? I’ll find other people to speak to, and will practise where I need to improve so I am more confident next time. Maybe I will read the Careers Network resources to help me prepare more thoroughly.

Following this will help you keep events in perspective and also identify what you need to do to improve next time.

4) Rewards

Networking can be tiring, so schedule into do something fun after you’ve tried some networking activities – regardless of how good or bad they’ve gone. This will help your wellbeing and motivation.

Christian Jameson-Warren, Loughborough University

What to do with the last 4 months of your visa

What to do with the last 4 months of your visa

After graduation, you may have some time left in the UK before your visa expires. If you are wondering how to best use this time, consider developing your career capital. Career capital is anything that puts you in a better position in your career, such as skills, connections, experience, credentials and so on. Below are some activities you can undertake to help with this – and remember, you can discuss any of the below with the Careers Network.

Research what skills employers want now and in the future – and make a plan to upskill

Even if you have a job lined up, researching labour market information (LMI) to understand predicted trends can help you better understand how to focus your professional development and stand out to prospective employers. For example, if analytics is an increasingly required skill in your sector, you could complete some online professional courses to further develop your skills in this area.

You can learn about skill needs by reading job and sector profiles on CN website, Prospects, Targetjobs, reading industry journals and reviewing job adverts for common requirements.

There are online resources for developing professional skills such as Coursera.org, FutureLearn, EdX.org, Khan Academy and Lynda.com.

Get clarity on where you can add value to an organisation

Clearly understanding your strengths and how you can best add value to a future employer in your chosen field can also help focus your career development. For example, you may naturally enjoy getting to know new people, want to work in an industry that doesn’t attract a lot of people with customer relationship building skills and having researched job roles can see how these skills could be of specific use to companies. Taking steps to become more skilled and/or experienced in this area is something worth considering to make you stand out as a candidate.

As you do this, practise communicating to employers how this skill will benefit them.

Build up your professional contacts

Knowing people in your industry who you can ask for advice (such as a mentor) can speed up your career development, regardless of whether you are looking for a new job or not. People often find it difficult to invest a lot of time in this once they are in employment, so after graduation is a great opportunity to invest time in this. The Careers Network have resources which can help you with this.

Freelance projects

One way to gain further skills and experience that would impress an employer is to complete freelance projects. If you are still unsure about your career direction, this is also a great way to try out different options.

As an example, you can contact local businesses about consulting on a topic based on your skills and experience. You can also search online for opportunities.

Volunteer for a cause you care about

Volunteering has many benefits, such as improving your confidence using workplace English. The experience may also make your applications stronger, and gives potential employers more of an insight about you as a person. Spending time helping on a cause you care about can also be fun and greatly rewarding. Volunteering opportunities can be found by visiting www.do-it.org.

Christian Jameson-Warren, Loughborough University