UK CVs for International Students

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

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

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

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

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

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

Do not include:

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

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

Sources of further information and support:

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

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

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

By Ben Simkins, Careers Consultant, Keele University

Launching Your Global Career- Webinar Series 2019

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

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

MIG-webinar-brochure-2019

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

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

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

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

Teresa Corcoran from University of Nottingham had the following advice: 

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

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

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

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

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

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

  1. Ensure the idea has something different about it

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chris Steventon (Careers Consultant at Coventry University) 

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

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

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

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

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

 Kathryn Doerr (Nottingham Trent University)

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

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

Sally Cleere (De Montfort University)

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

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

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

Christian Jameson-Warren (Loughborough University)

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

Luciana Akemi Awasa (University College Birmingham)

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

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

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

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

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