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

Worried about being interviewed in a different language?

Firstly, it’s normal to feel nervous before a job interview. As long as the nerves do not get too much, this isn’t anything to worry about. Sometimes though you may feel additional worry or pressure because you are interviewing in a different language. In addition to practicing your language skills, the following techniques can help with this.

Recognise your specific worries

This will help you address each negative thought or emotion directly instead of being overshadowed by a overall feeling of unease. List your worries as specifically as possible, your thoughts and/or beliefs about each one and it’s potential impact on your behaviour. For example:

Worry – I’ll be asked a question that I don’t understand

Thoughts/beliefs – I’ll fail the interview because I can’t answer and will look stupid

Impact – I’m already scared about questions I’ll be asked and won’t be able to relax or come across confidently

Strategies for addressing specific worries include:

Being solution-focused

When we really care about something (such as securing a job), it’s easy to focus on what has or might go wrong. Unfortunately, focusing thoughts this way can be obstructive to success.

One strategy to use is to reframe negative thoughts from a positive angle. Seeing the situation in a new way that allows you to move forward. For example:

Original thought Reframed thought
‘I’m scared I won’t know the right words to say’ ‘It’s great that I really want to do well in this interview. What specific questions am I worried about answering, and who can help me practise them?’
‘I failed at the last interview even though I really prepared’ ‘I’m disappointed, but now know more about questions I might get asked, where I do well and where to improve for the next one. It’s normal for people to have a few job interviews before they are successful.’
‘I don’t know enough words’ ‘There are some some words and phrases I am confident using. How can I practise answers for questions I’m likely to get asked so I can improve on any areas of weakness?’

 

Reviewing your list of worries, are there anyways you can reframe your thoughts positively?

Scaling

A rating scale can be used to identify where you are in relation to a goal and identify small, manageable steps to help you move forward. Sample questions you could ask yourself include –

  • On a scale of 1-10, if 1 were absolutely terrible and 10 was perfection, what score would I give myself for my interview skills?
  • I have given myself a score of X. What have I done to get the score this high?
  • What are the reasons I haven’t given myself a higher score? What would it take to get it up to the next score [e.g. from 5 to 6]?

Positive Experiences

While you may not have successfully interviewed in another language, you can still think about experiences that collectively improve your self-belief in detail. For example, remembering a good interview you had elsewhere. What did you do that made it a good interview? How did that make you feel? How did you prepare for it? How did you answer any difficult questions?

Visualisations

This involves imagining performing well in an upcoming event in minute detail. If this is a positive experience it can create positive feelings and associations in your brain as if you’d actually experienced the event for real. As an example of this –

Imagine yourself arriving for your interview, including thinking about what you are wearing. Think about how you might be feeling. Imagine meeting and introducing yourself to the people interviewing you, including the details of the room and furniture. You are walking in confidently and shake their hands. How are they reacting to you?

You sit down and they ask you the first interview question, which you answer confidently and easily. How does this make you feel? How are people reacting to you? Continue this process for a few more questions.

You end the interview by confidently shaking hands, smile and leaving the room. How do you feel now? What are the interviewers thinking as you leave?

Now try think of a word that you can associate with this final scene that would allow you to remember this image and associated feelings easily.

You can recreate this scene in your mind several times leading up to the interview, and each time use your chosen word to bring back the positive images in your mind. On the day of the interview you can say this word to yourself to help you get into a confident frame of mind.

Mock Interviews and Practise

You can book a mock interview with your careers service for upcoming interviews you have. This will give you interview practise. Please note that this will most likely be in English. If there are specific things you are worried about (e.g. specific interview questions), you can address these.

If you have an upcoming interview in a different language, having a mock interview in English will still help you practise good interview technique. If there are people you know who are fluent in the language you are interviewing in, there is value in practising interview questions and answers with them, even if they are not interview experts. Simply speaking words and phrases will help you feel more confident and be more proficient.

Christian Jameson-Warren, Loughborough University

Launching your global career – Virtual Seminars

We have developed a series of virtual events during the month of March.

Providing a fantastic opportunity for you to find out more from a wide range of organisations and skilled professionals to further develop your global mind set.

Click on the E-Brochure below to find out more and to book your place on a wide range of virtual events:

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.