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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.

 

Give your studies a global dimension

 Do you have what it takes to compete in a global market of today? Not sure what else you can do to develop your global competencies? Check our tips and advice on how to give your studies a global dimension and gain that edge over other graduates.

Now more than ever, it is vital that you make the most of your studies to develop the so called global mindset really sought after by employers in today’s challenging and highly globalised job market.

Whether you are an EU/Overseas student already studying internationally in the UK or a HOME student considering a career abroad after graduation, there are many ways you can increase your global competences and create an outstanding personal brand to impress future recruiters.

Give your academic work an international angle
Regardless what subject you are studying, there are simple ways on how you can make your studies more international.

Talk to your lecturers and tutors about the teaching and research they do. Many of them are engaged in international partnerships or writing on topics of global relevance. When choosing your modules, consider those with international and intercultural perspectives and try to cover these angles in your assignments and dissertation.

Where possible team up with students from other countries and cultures during class discussions or group projects. If your course is ‘with a Year in Industry’ consider an international placement or one with a company with global links.

If you are a postgraduate student, join any relevant international research networks or organise a conference that would bring students from other countries to share and discuss the research you are all involved in. Last but not least, follow global developments in your subject by reading international journals, magazines or expert blogs.

Go on a semester or a year abroad

Speak to your tutor and the International Office at your university about an opportunity of studying and/or working abroad for a semester or even a whole academic year.

Opportunities are endless and depending on your university’s international partnerships, they can range from Erasmus+ in Europe (both study and internships), working as a Teaching Assistant abroad with British Council, studying in the USA or Mexico or even doing an exchange at one of the satellite campuses of your university.

You don’t necessarily need another language to take part (as many courses abroad are also taught in English) and there is lots of support available to help your brush up on your language skills before and during your year abroad.

Studying or working abroad will equip you with amazing new skills, such as intercultural communication, planning and organising and resilience. It will also give you a fantastic opportunity to make new friends all over the world, as well as gain new perspectives on your studies and potential future career. Finally you’ll come back more mature and confident and with a clearer idea of what you like and don’t like doing after graduation!

Employers value the ability to adapt to new environments and practices, as well as people who can communicate effectively with others across different cultures and languages and your experiences abroad can provide evidence of the qualities they need.

On your return, make sure to come and speak to your careers service. The advisers there will be happy to help you articulate and present your international experience in future applications and interviews. They also organise regular workshops and events that bring along international companies to campus, so make sure to attend them, ask questions about international and intercultural opportunities and grow your networks.

Get involved with volunteering

If your course does not allow you to go on a year abroad, consider taking part in volunteering. Volunteering with local and international organisations gives you the chance to contribute to the community, improve your CV, develop new skills and have fun.

Volunteering can be a great way to gain global experience by taking part in diverse projects, from helping people to learn English to supporting local immigrants and refugees or participating in intercultural mentoring schemes.

Check out your careers service’s website to find out more about the voluntary organisations they are working with and how you can get involved. Or if you have a particular idea in mind, why not starting your own student-led project overseas?

Join a society and meet students from other countries

Through your university’s Students’ Union you can meet people from many nationalities, learn about other cultures, take on new challenges and get work experience by holding a position of responsibility in a society.

Participating in university life and the local community will enrich your time at the university and make you attractive to employers as it suggests that you can make a valuable contribution to the workplace too.

Student groups and societies welcome all students and are a great opportunity to widen your social circle, learn a new language and get familiar with different customs.

Learn another language

Ability to communicate effectively in more than one language will greatly enhance your career prospects in a global job market. It will help you develop your cultural self-awareness and give you insights into other countries and cultures. Employers value graduates who can interact confidently with diverse people personally and professionally.

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the Association of Graduate Recruiters confirms:

“More and more employers are looking for graduates with a global mindset. This means an ability to work across different cultures and borders, an awareness of the global forces affecting organisations and the diversity of thinking to tackle challenges in a global environment. If you can also communicate effectively in more than one language, you will be well placed to make the most of international opportunities.”

Learning a new language can be sometimes  added as a new module or a pathway to your degree, or taken up university’s languages centre. Check your university’s website for more details or discuss options available to you with your personal tutor.

Inspired by any of the ideas above?

Take action – visit your careers service’s website, research your options and book a careers guidance appointment to discuss your next steps.

The post was written for the Midlands International Group by Gosia Mobbs (University of Leicester), 28 June 2017.

 

Networking and your Personal Brand.

There is a lot of information out there about ensuring you network effectively. I wanted to present some of the issues international students may face and propose practical ways to overcome these difficulties. However, firstly I want to talk about the importance of “Personal Branding” in all your networking endeavours.

Why Network?

Networking can be so useful in supporting your future career. It can be used to:

  • Gain careers advice and sift through potential options.
  • Obtain a realistic picture of a profession.
  • Understand an organisation’s culture and whether you are a good match for this.
  • Open up opportunities for personal development.
  • Provide introductions to useful contacts.
  • Build mutually beneficial relationships, perhaps creating a coach or mentor.

Networking is not about asking for a job! Instead it is a chance to make connections, have useful conversations, gain insights and to build your on-going relationships.

Before you start networking

It’s really important to understand your own “Personal Brand”, prior to undertaking any networking activity. Tom Peters first coined this phrase in his 1997 article “A brand called you”. This article emphasised the importance of being able to promote ourselves professionally, clearly and confidently. He said:

“Regardless of our age, position or the business we happen to be in, all of us need to understand the importance of branding. We are CEOs of our own companies. Our most important job is to be Head of Marketing for the brand called you!”

This emphasises the need to firstly understand and then confidently promote ourselves to the world around us.

In order to do this you need to understand what is unique about you. A useful video resource to help with this is “Creating your Personal Brand” by Lida Citroen (2015). Lida explains that a Brand is an “expectation of an experience” and personal branding is about how we make people “feel” about being around or working with us. With this in mind the intention is to create a positive feeling from others based on our interactions with them. This could be through producing an excellent piece of work ahead of time for example or doing something for another person with no expectation of reciprocation.

To start this process of personal branding, firstly we should stop and take stock. We need to take an inventory of our skills, experience and interests. This could involve asking ourselves questions like: Where do I want to be? What inspires me? What is unique about my experiences so far? What are my talents and skills? What skills do I need to work on?

As an international student one major advantage you have is your increased cultural awareness and possibly your ability to speak different languages. There will be other unique qualities you have too!

You can also understand how you are currently seen by others through requesting 360 degree feedback. Be open to this honest feedback from people who you currently interact with on a regular basis and then start to think about how you want to be seen by others.

Once you have answers for the above, you can start to build a strategy to take you to where you want to be. This will involve building influence with others through your actions.

Lida explains that “Credibility” (which you need to build your personal brand) comes from understanding and having a clear set of values and acting on these to increase your personal influence.

Credibility = Values + Action

You can then define your target audience. These can be broken down in to three categories but each of these can be equally useful in the longer term:

Decision Makers – Those who make hiring decisions or have a decision making role within businesses.

Information sources – Those who have insights and information about a role, organisation or specialism. They can add value to your existing knowledge base.

Supporters – Those who support and encourage you. They may be known as a “critical friend”. They could be an official or unofficial mentor/coach.

Remember

Networking is about creating win-win situations, therefore it is important that where you can you offer support and help to those you need help from. Be genuine and build your personal brand around your real strengths this will ensure you are authentic which in turn should ensure your networking is meaningful and long lasting.

Challenges for International students

International students often face challenges when approaching networking for the first time. Some common challenges have been addressed below:

  • I’m not from the UK and therefore I have no established networks in UK industry

Every university in the UK has a Careers Service which all have strong links with industry partners across the UK and beyond. This means that you don’t need to already have an established network in the UK. There are a range of activities you can get involved with to ensure you can build a wide range of contacts in multiple industries. Here are some examples:

Most Universities offer mentoring schemes with former students, now Alumni, who offer their time to support you in developing your network and career. Some will be working in the roles you will want to undertake so can be really invaluable contacts. Contact your careers service to find out more about this. Most University careers services will host employer events during term time each week to provide industry and recruitment insights. This is a great way to network, ask questions and connect with people who are wanting to hire students and graduates.

  • I’m not used to the formalities involved in UK business and industry so I’m afraid I’ll make a mistake in dealing with new people.

Most university Careers Services across the UK provide events to support you in how to network effectively and at careers fairs, staff are on hand to talk you through appropriate behaviour and etiquette if you are unsure.

  • I’m not an extravert so speaking to strangers just doesn’t feel natural and I just don’t know what to say.

Everyone is in the same position as you and although some people may be naturally extravert people or come from a much more extravert culture, there are ways you can increase your confidence. Seek out support from your Careers Service. They will help you to create an “Elevator Pitch” to clearly, concisely and confidently present yourself to others. They may be able to talk you through UK customs and culture in order to help you feel more confident in speaking to potential employers or business connections.

  • I don’t see the point in networking, I just want a job.

Generally, networking undertaken by students, is done to increase their chances of gaining employment. However, stating this outright when you meet a new connection can make people less inclined to help you. Networking is about creating “win-win” situations. This means creating mutually beneficial relationships where you can help each other. Rather than seeing networking as a way to get a job, instead try to ensure you understand the business or the role you are wanting to work in. Being helpful to people can help to create a good impression, supporting others whilst also gaining invaluable experiences which you can later draw from perhaps in interviews or in your CV. You may even be able to use this connection as a reference in the future and it could lead on to more useful contacts which could eventually lead you into the perfect role.

What do employers want?

I recently asked a range of high profile employers to explain what they felt demonstrated “good networking” skills. Here are their responses:

“Making a good first impression is really important. One way you can achieve this is through networking. Proactively engaging with employers on campus, at their office, or through your online profile not only means you’ll learn more about their opportunities, but you may also get the chance to meet your future colleagues. At fairs make sure you give a firm handshake, ask questions and demonstrate positive body language such as eye contact’’. From Charlotte Robertson, Student Recruitment, PwC

“Something we really look for is a student that has prepared in advance of the event, either by reading up on the companies attending via the promotional literature, or even just googling them in advance to research whether it’s definitely a company they would like to learn more about or apply to. Also somebody that comes over and introduces themselves and shakes hand always goes down well.” From Harriett Cormack, CEB Global

Article written for the Midlands International Group by Teresa Corcoran – Postgraduate Careers Consultant (Business School) at the University of Nottingham, 26 June 2017. This blog follows on from an earlier blog about networking by my colleague Ben Simkins who is a Careers Adviser at Keele University (Link to Ben’s blog: Here ).

References

Citroen, Lida “Creating your Personal Brand” (2015) Link: Here

Peters, Tom “A brand called you!”(1997) Link: https://www.fastcompany.com/28905/brand-called-you

What is networking?

Networking for International Students

Image: CC0 – Public Domain.  No attribution required

You might have heard about networking and how important it can be in helping individuals achieve their professional and personal goals.  But what exactly is it? Networking is the idea that through the personal connections we make with individuals we encounter we can develop mutually beneficial relationships.

Remember networking is not just about what we can get from other people, just as important is how we can help them.

What are the potential benefits of networking?

Networking is all about making contacts.  Making contacts can improve your employability.  The “graduate jobs formula” below illustrates the impact that making contacts could have on improving your employability.

Employability = Qualifications + Work Experience + Skills x Contacts (Redmond, 2010)

Your contacts could help you with:

Insider info; want to impress an employer with your commercial awareness? Having an employee of a company you are targeting for job applications as a contact could provide real insights unavailable elsewhere.

Heads up on upcoming opportunities; often employees of a company will know about opportunities for work and work experience before they are advertised.

A good word in the right ear; making an application? Want to increase the chance of being shortlisted for interview?  Using contacts within the company to provide recommendations for you could make a difference.

Recommendations and endorsements (LinkedIn); LinkedIn allows you to collect recommendations that are much like references and also gives the opportunity for other people to endorse the skills you have listed in your profile.  Using your contacts in this way can help you to develop a more impressive online profile.

Practical help; there are numerous ways in which your contacts can support you with practical help.  For example, to arrange work experience or advice about a tricky application question.  Consider your network, what practical help could these individuals offer you?

References; want a great reference? You could ask a contact in your network.

Personal Introductions; sometimes it’s not the people you know, but the people that they know that can help you.  Your contacts can be helpful in supporting you to develop your network.  Maybe they can’t help you but they know someone who can?

Six Degrees of Separation– Frigyes Karinthy (1929)

The theory that because we are all linked by chains of acquaintances that we are all just six introductions away from anyone else on the planet!

“Proof! Just six degrees of separation between us

After checking 30 billion electronic messages, Microsoft researchers say the theory stands up” – The Observer, 2008.

Consider…what do you want to achieve by networking?

Networking, the basics

A good general rule for networking is to treat every encounter with someone as an opportunity to create a new contact.  Consider who you have in your network at the moment (everyone has one), your family, friends and acquaintances.  This is the starting point from which you can build.

Do not be passive, identify and seek out opportunities to grow your network; for example, your University Careers Fair and employer presentations (to network with graduate employers), social events (to network with your peers).  Check if your University offer networking training or opportunities to meet with Alumni or employers.

Think about the positive impression you want to make; effective impression management can be the key to creating new contacts.  The following are viewed as good practice in terms of meeting new people;

Principle 1: Become genuinely interested in other people

Principle 2: Smile!

Principle 3: Remember their name

Principle 4: Be a good listener.  Encourage others to talk about themselves

Principle 5: Talk in terms of the other person’s interests

Principle 6: Make the other person feel important.  Do it sincerely.

(Carnegie, 2006)

Networking via social networks

LinkedIn is an online professional networking tool and available in over 200 countries worldwide, with over 450 million members.  This makes it the world’s largest professional network on the internet.  It is a great way to not only make new contacts but also to maintain and manage your existing network.

Check if your University offers LinkedIn workshops or training.

To sign up to LinkedIn visit: https://gb.linkedin.com/

For an introduction to LinkedIn and how it can used visit: http://tinyurl.com/m9whhq7

For a more detailed guide to LinkedIn visit: https://university.linkedin.com/linkedin-for-students

Top tip:  you will usually need an email address to connect with someone through LinkedIn.  Ask people you meet in person (that you would like to add to your network) if they would connect with you via LinkedIn and if so, ask for their email address!

References:

Carnegie, D. (2006). How to Win Friends and Influence People. London: Vermillion.

Redmond, P. (2010). The Graduate Jobs Formula. Surrey: Trotman Publishing.

Ben Simkins, Careers Adviser, Keele University

Why gain global competencies?

Why gain global competencies? Intercultural skills will benefit you whatever your career plans

Are you open to trying out different things – new experiences, different cultures or learning things in new ways? Do you look out for, and exploit new opportunities when other people don’t? If you answered ‘Yes’ to either of these questions you may already have the global competencies and mindset which are fast becoming a part of graduate employer ‘wishlists’. Having these is more than just about meeting business needs in a global economy. They will also equip for you many of the situations you face in your student and graduate life.

There’s no shortage of definitions of global mindset and competencies, and of intercultural skills, a closely-related idea. There’s also plenty of different ways graduate employers break them down when they recruit. For students and graduates what’s important is to have a broad understanding of what they mean, to be able to connect them to your own way of doing things, and be looking out for opportunities to develop them.

DB Arriva, the multinational public transport company, assesses graduates’ global mindset in three ways: if you can explain who and what motivates and inspires you; how you try out different things, without fear of uncertainty about what it means; and if you excel in relationship building and using support networks. You’ll notice that there’s nothing here about languages and international understanding, but for DB Arriva the term ‘global’ can mean international, regional or even relate to another business unit.

Other organisations view global mindset differently. For HSBC’s international banking operations it’s partly about being open to different ideas and cultures, communicating openly, and valuing different perspectives. While entry to brewers Heineken’s International Graduate Programme requires a genuine interest in other countries and cultures, language skills and at least 6 months spent working, or volunteering outside your home country.

What this shows us is that having a global mindset and competencies doesn’t have to mean you want to work for a multinational corporation or be globally mobile. Instead it includes skills and ways of thinking that overlap with many of the other things graduate employers will be looking for when they recruit. Whatever career you want to go into (or even if you have clear career ideas), you will need to work successfully in groups where the members are from mixed backgrounds, communicating clearly, and be open to new ideas and ways of doing things. This might be in your part-time or vacation jobs, in student societies, voluntary roles or course groupwork. From time to time most of us will find ourselves having to deal with situations where we don’t have all the information we need, having to take on new roles in unfamiliar situations where we have to work outside our ‘comfort zone’. This might look difficult to start with, but the end results can include a sense of achievement, some stories you can use in your job applications, and sometimes finding yourself asking the question ‘Did I really do that?’.

  • For more information on why a global mindset is important see:

http://www.gradplus.com/graduate-news/graduate-recruiters-say-a-global-mindset-can-give-you-the-edge.aspx

http://www.independent.co.uk/student/study-abroad/uk-industry-needs-global-graduates-but-what-does-that-mean-8613898.html

7 ways to improve your global mindset and become very employable indeed

  • To explore how you can develop your global mindset and other skills graduate employers are looking for please visit your university careers service

Iwan Griffiths (Aston University)

Developing a Global Mindset.

As the employment market becomes increasingly globalised and complex, more and more employers are looking for graduates with an awareness of these issues and an ability to work across countries and cultures. This is referred to in a variety of ways – some call it a global mindset, some talk of global competencies and some are organisations are now looking for global-minded graduates.

It’s important to realise that a global graduate isn’t simply someone who can speak a foreign language or has travelled abroad. Whilst being multilingual can be a huge advantage the term global mindset covers a much wider spectrum of skills and qualities including the ability to understand international perspectives, to work with people from different cultures and backgrounds and can grasp how international business interconnects and operates.

One definition of global mindset from the FT Lexicon is ‘one that combines an openness to and awareness of diversity across cultures and markets with a propensity and ability to see common patterns across countries and markets’.

Different employers often include different skills and attributes within the term global mindset or when talking about global competencies. BG Group talk about “the ability to think globally”, whereas Ernst and Young look for graduates with “the ability to work seamlessly across international boundaries”. Some companies ask for graduates who have spent some time abroad and schemes like Heineken’s International Graduate programme want candidates “To have a genuine interest in other countries and cultures”.

It’s possible to break some of the common skills and qualities into three main areas:

Social Skills – working collaboratively across cultures, adapting your communication skills to suit different audiences, being able to negotiate and influence international clients and respecting and understanding other people’s perspectives.

Psychological skills – demonstrating your drive and resilience, showing high levels of self-awareness and reflection, and having the ability to develop new behaviours and skills.

Professional skills and knowledge – having a good understanding of foreign economies and industries and the interconnectedness of the global economy, having good language skills, being able to learn in different cultures and environments and having the ability to form global networks.

A British Council report on intercultural skills conducted research and highlighted some of the following key skills:

By reflecting on these skills and qualities you can then start to see which areas you feel you already have strengths in and which areas you may want to focus on building on and developing during your studies.

There are a number of activities you can engage in during your time at university, to demonstrate your global mindset.  These can include campus based opportunities, such as language learning, attending international guest lectures or cultural events, as part of student union activities.  You may also have opportunities to explore global competencies through module choice options, such as those with an international dimension or international exchange.  Another major way to demonstrate your global mindset is to participate in overseas opportunities through activities such as study placements, summer schools, internships and volunteering projects.

Mundeep Panayi (De Montfort University)

Returning home: employability tips for international students

International students at universities in the UK have a range of career options when they finish.  Many will be interested in the possibility of working in the UK or internationally and the idea of further study, in the UK or in another country will be attractive.  Most international students will return  home, however,  and here are a few tips which will make the transition into work in  your home country easier and ultimately, more successful.

Start planning early

  • You need to think about returning home almost as soon as you arrive in the UK. A lot depends on the length of your course but if you are studying for a 12-month master’s,  for example,   you will be surprised how quickly time passes.  When you arrive in UK you may be overwhelmed by the pressures of a new way of  life but don’t forget to plan your future.

Keep in touch with developments in your home country and be pro-active

  • Follow the graduate recruitment scene on-line. National newspapers and journals will show which employment sectors and growing and which organisations expect to recruit graduates.  Which UK, US and European organisations are active in your home country?  You should target specific sectors  and employers  to make sure your knowledge is up-to-date.   Indian students, for example,  should be following economic trends on such websites as the Times of India

Expand your network and contacts

  • Using social media effectively, particularly Linkedin twitter and facebook is a great way of building contacts with particular employers and helps put you in touch with managers, not just the organisation’s HR department.  Moreover, employers now expect graduates to be  confident users of social media and to be aware of its uses as a business tool .
  • Are there any UK careers fairs for international students you could attend ? As an international student you will probably be welcome to attend  most but check beforehand.  Talking to an employer at a fair after previously making contact through LinkedIn can be very effective.
  • Ask about any networks of ex-students of your UK university who are now working in your home country. These alumni networks are growing in importance and you already have a lot in common!

Be aware of the employment cycle in your home  country

  • Know how and when employers recruit. Employers’ schedules vary: the main season for recruitment in the UK is October-January  but in China activity is concentrated in two period, mid-September-November and March-May.  Employers in Malaysia tend to recruit all year round.
  • Useful websites include Gradlink and Target Jobs
  • Ensure that your CV conforms to what the employer would expect and understand the relevant “application culture.” Employers in the UK value personal achievements and voluntary work but such details tend to be disregarded in India.    Examples of how CVs differ from country to country can be found at Going Global

Understand what you have to offer and what you have gained from your time in Britain

  • What did you gain from your course of study? How could it benefit your employer?
  • Your proficiency in English is important but you will also need to show employers that you are culturally aware and can understand how Europeans do business.
  • You should be clear about your ability to adapt to new environments and learning situations and you will need to explain how you have overcome the challenge of studying and working in the UK. These qualities are vital and you need to sell them in a pro-active way because they will not speak for themselves.
  • Your fellow students will probably have come from around the world so as well as experiencing life in the UK, you have had a truly international experience.

Be realistic

  • You should be aware that employers in your home country may not pay you a higher salary simply because you have a British qualification. The career benefits of your time abroad my not be apparent until you look for promotion.  Be patient and do not give the impression that you know everything.

Be prepared for “reverse culture shock”

  • Do you remember how demanding it was when you arrived in the UK? All your energy seemed to be spent on adjusting to a new country.  How tiring it was to speak English all day!
  • Going back home can feel the same. You will be different and so will your friends and family and they may have little understanding of how your experience has changed you outlook.  The most dangerous time for space modules is when they re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.  You may get depressed  and feel slightly alienated from what is now a new environment.  It may not happen but be aware that it is a possibility.

Stay in touch

  • Your UK university stays with you forever and there will be plenty of opportunity to maintain contacts through your Alumni Association and the International Office.
  • In terms of employability most UK universities will still offer you carers advice and information for an extended period after you graduate (typically for 3 years). It’s easy to stay in touch through email and Skype.

Good luck! Peter Smart (Nottingham Trent Univeristy)

Global CVs

Global jobs – CV and application tips

 

So what is a global CV, or what makes a good global application, you may be asking? Having a single CV that could be used for everything would be a dream, but to secure that dream global move requires thinking both globally and strategically. Measurement of technical abilities may be similar worldwide, but application information will be received differently, depending on the type of company, its global culture, and their recruitment needs. Resilience and versatility is required for the people they recruit.

There are numerous sources for developing or perfecting your CV and many will claim to have the ultimate answer, or will charge you money to design your CV for you. When trying to secure jobs in a global market, it could seem like extra help is just what you may require. In essence the global graduate needs to be smart enough to make use of what information is out there, whilst also doing their homework on the country they are applying to. This will enable them to tailor their approach to suit the differing needs of each organisation, which can even vary for the same company, based in a different country.

As you will see from many sources listed below, there are different sections which are more usual or expected in certain countries. Ensuring you get this right will show respect for the jobs market that you are entering. You may be able to gain feedback through LinkedIn networks, or others already working for the companies that you are looking to apply to. Doing your homework can help in creating a customised CV, which can really pay dividends!
The profile statement This is becoming an expected feature
for many CVs or resumes, with different countries using different titles to describe this. Whether calling it a Career Objective, Personal Profile, or my preferred favourite ‘Career Profile’ it should clearly set out what it is that you are doing, what particular qualities that you are offering and finally what position you are trying to secure and the value you could add. I have seen many graduates concentrate on what they are seeking to gain, rather than what they clearly believe they can offer. Offering something is likely to create a more favourable response, the world over.

GradLink UK provides useful articles on the application process and sections you may wish to include in your CV. The example below relates to finding work in China, but you can also use these sources for example CVs from organisations in other countries.

http://www.gradlinkuk.com/what-is-go-cv.php 

General tips for finding and applying for a graduate job in China
With the development of China’s education system, over six million graduates enter the Chinese labour market each year. Competition is high and possessing practical experience and language skills will give you a head-start in finding a job.

Cover letters 
In general, a cover letter is not customary in China. However, some organisations may require one. Cover letters should:
• be around 200 words
• explain your motivation
• explain your specific qualification – give its content and any selling points
• emphasise your outstanding achievements
• mention the added value you may bring to the organisation you are applying to
Templates and examples:
YJBYS.com
zhongguojianliwang.com

CV/resume 
A CV/resume is an overview of a job seeker’s experience, qualifications, significant achievements and personal information. It is generally advised that your CV does not exceed two pages.
A CV should include:
• Personal information (name, date and place of birth, contact details).
• Academic background (university, course name, degree obtained and dates of attendance, content of key qualifications).
• Previous work experience (job title, description of job function and daily activities, dates of employment).
• Critical skills that you have (eg mastery of software and languages).
• Specify the kinds of positions you are looking for and state your career objective.

Templates and examples:
zhongguojianliwang.com
51job.com
gerenjianli.com
guolairen.com
zhaopin.com

GradLink UK, Going Global, Passport Careers, Grad Connection and a host of other sites provide key essentials for writing CVs for different countries, giving you the potential to fit with the traditions and standards of each particular country. Check with your university careers service to see what licenses they have to explore these global resources, as you may only be able to access very basic information. Employers will expect global graduates to possess the ability to research, tailor and adapt their applications to fit with the values and approaches they are seeking. The words you choose can make a real difference.

Example extract for CVs in Nigeria (GradLink UK)
The majority of the Nigerian recruitment websites seem to prefer a maximum of a 2 page ‘standard’ or ‘chronological’ CV, with headings in the following order:

Personal details – full name as the heading of the CV with address, contact number and email address

Profile/Objective – career objective and summary of Education, training and other qualifications – a list of the suggested headings; and new graduates are asked for must provide their class of degree.

Employment History – a chronological order of the jobs, starting with the most recent with details of company name, job title, dates of employment and major accomplishments.

Additional Information – if there is room this section can include hobbies, computer skills, or memberships.

References – not required but should be entered if specifically requested.

How do I start to write my CV?
Key global recruiters that I have worked with have advised the following: “When you look at the classified section of the paper, or read the jobs notice board, make sure you read the advertisement carefully. Decide what aspects of your personality, qualifications, skills and experience you can offer to this new job/career.

Write these down in a list and use strong “action words” – for example: “I am organised, efficient, and hard-working, I have managed and coordinated events and people. I studied and achieved personal and professional excellence and completed a degree in …” (Junaid Mansoor- Global Employability)

It is essential that you have a clear message, which fits with each global company that you apply to. With global jobs, how this fits with your personal stage of development, potential family circumstance and your experience of being in that country will demonstrate to the employer how likely it is you will settle in, perform and add value to their business. It is usually a risk to employ somebody who has not already shown commitment to working globally.

So can I keep the same CV for each position?

Global recruiters, even more than local recruiters, will be able to see how your study specialisms, experience and achievements fit with their vision for their organisation. If you have not matched your CV to your chosen company’s values, business or client aims, it will be difficult for them to see how your achievements, experience and ambitions demonstrate that you are the right candidate to work in that position, or that global location.

Other tips (Target Jobs on applying for positions) 

https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/working-abroad/341480-working-in-china#applyingforjobs

Extract from one of their sources on China (Target Jobs)

Applying for jobs

If you have contacts in China, try to use them for networking purposes, as some jobs are never advertised but filled via personal referrals. It’s advisable to secure a job before moving to China as it affects the visa you need to be able to enter and stay in the country.
A short CV or résumé is used along with a covering letter for most job applications. If you’re applying to a Chinese or government-owned company and can speak Mandarin it may be helpful to handwrite your application in Chinese characters.
The information included in your application is similar to that in UK CVs. Provide a summary or career objective at the beginning and highlight academic and personal achievements. Include your academic and work background and if your university features highly in recognised rankings such as the Times Higher Education University Rankings, include the position in your application as this is often highly valued in China.

Take all the advice that you can get!

Within most countries agencies will often recruit. Hays are a major global player, so you can seek advice from them about what they are expecting from quality candidates.

http://www.hays.cn/en/advice-services/EN-CHN_HAYS_373213 Global recruiters- career guides.

The way forward

All of this will take time, but once you start to be curious in exploring global opportunities thoroughly, you may find key pieces of advice coming from contacts that you make.

• Consider approaching companies directly and asking them if they would like some particular format or elements to be demonstrated within their application

• Develop a key facts document (a checklist of skills, values, key words and personality traits you will demonstrate in your CV or application)

• Think about alumni from your university and if they may help you to glean key bits of information.

• Think about establishing contact with people you have spent time with in that country. You never know when you may need their support- so keep them feeling positive towards you.

• Quality checks of your CV or application prior to sending- Ideally somebody working for that global organisation would provide this support, however this may be unlikely.
Think also of others who work in that country. This could include agencies who seeking to recruit the right talent, who have local expertise in CV and applications.

• Remember that what is on your CV, will need to be supported by what is online.
Global recruiters are highly likely to make use of these online resources.
It is their best chance of developing a clearer picture
of who you are, how you act and the connections you have.

Contact your Careers Consultant at your university for their opinion on how you match up to particular company and job specifications.

Potential sources of information

Example extract for CVs in Nigeria (GradLink UK)

http://www.goinglobal.com

https://uk.gradconnection.com/

http://www.passportcareer.com/

https://targetjobs.co.uk/careers-advice/working-abroad

http://www.globalcareercompany.com/

https://www.everjobs.com/

Good luck! – Chris Steventon (Coventry University)