Advice to international students looking to work in the UK after graduation

This is a tough time of year for international graduates. Many have enjoyed their time living and studying in the UK, making new friends and connections as well as achieving the necessary academic results to earn their degrees. The next step is often to explore how to extend this academic experience by applying for jobs.

The UK job market is difficult enough for recent Masters graduates to find employment, but with a four-month time limit before student visas expire in the January after graduating this can seem like an impossible task for international students.

Here are some suggestions to help prepare for this challenge:

  1. What visa do I need to apply for?

Any international student who wants to work in the UK after completing their studies will need to apply for a Tier 2 visa that is supported by a registered UK employer sponsor. 

Find out more about Tier 2 visas on the QMUL Advice & Counselling website. For further information, they are based in Geography Square on the Mile End campus.

For graduates with a genuine and credible business idea, see our website for information on the Tier 1 (Graduate Entrepreneur) visa.

  1. How can I find a job in a company that offers tier 2 visas?

You can check if an employer is on the Home Office list of registered UK employer sponsors:

Make sure you are aware of the latest salary requirements and conditions of Tier 2 visa information from the Advice & Counselling website:

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Developing your skills (part 2: organisation, flexibility & responsibility)

In Monday’s blog, we introduced some of the key skills employers are looking for, and how you can demonstrate these. Today we’re looking at time management (organisation), flexibility and responsibility/reliability. Read on to find out more …

Time management (organisation)


  • Time management is crucial in the workplace, and employers want to know how you cope with multiple tasks and deadlines. During your studies, you’ll no doubt have had weeks when essays were due in at the same time. How did you plan for this? Did you have a system for prioritising tasks? With so many exams to study for, did you devise a schedule for planning your revision?
  • Juggling your studies, a part-time job and a volunteering role takes a lot of planning! How do you organise your time to make sure that everything gets done? Perhaps you set yourself goals or have a to-do list (or a few lists!) to make sure you stay on track. Use specific examples, such as setting aside chunks of time for different tasks, or using your Outlook calendar to track deadlines. These are great ways to demonstrate how you organise your time effectively.
  • A common interview question is something along the lines of: “Describe a time when you’ve had to manage multiple deadlines?” Give examples of when you have tackled a project over a period of time and how you approached the planning and
  • implementation of the task, e.g. coursework, dissertation, summer work placement, setting up a new society on campus etc. Explain step by step what you did, your methods for organising your time (as in point 2) and the end result.
  • A final pointer – if you’re invited to an interview or assessment centre, make sure you arrive in plenty of time!

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Developing your skills (part 1: communication, teamwork & attention to detail)

According to a recent article in the Independent, 70% of employers believe extra-curricular activities make graduates stand out – and make them even better employees. The skills gained from these activities could include organisation, time management, leadership, and teamwork – skills that you might not be able to demonstrate from your studies alone.

In this short series of blogs, we’ll focus on some examples of common skills employers are looking for (you’ll see these listed in the job description) and how you can develop these during your time at QMUL.

Look out for part 2, where we’ll focus on organisation, flexibility and responsibility.

Written and verbal communication


  • During your studies, you will have plenty of examples of essays, reports and presentations to draw on, but you could also develop your communication skills in a part-time job – working in retail involves speaking to customers, whilst a part-time office role will involve written correspondence with colleagues and clients and you could be presenting at team meetings.

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PhDs & Postdocs – How to apply to a job in industry

Dr Tracy Bussoli, Careers Consultant

Part 2: How to apply to a job in industry

  • Make speculative applications

Not all biotechnology companies and contract research organisations have the resources to run formal recruitment processes in the way that large pharmaceutical companies do. It’s therefore worth approaching them even if they are not advertising a job!

Some of the careers sections on their websites will have contact details of where to send the applications, but others may not. If there are no contact details on their website, look at LinkedIn or do some online research to find an appropriate person to send your application to. Here is some information on how to make speculative applications

  • Target your applications

To work out which companies to apply to, explore the various sectors and organisations to see where your expertise and subject knowledge fits.  If you have immunology experience, you may want to look at biotechnology companies that specialise in immunotherapy. A good place to start searching biotechnology companies for various roles is GolgiCareers or on LinkedIn. Once you find a company that aligns with your research or could use your research techniques, put together a CV and cover letter and send it off.

  • How to improve your CV

You will need to think about using a CV format that allows you to highlight the most relevant skills to the particular job you’re applying for. We recommend that you keep a

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PhDs & Postdocs – How to find a job in industry

Part 1: How to find a job in industry

Dr Tracy Bussoli, Careers Consultant

If you’re thinking of finding a job in industry, you’ll need to be persistent and resilient as it may take time. As there isn’t always a straightforward way to find positions, here are my top tips on finding work in industry:

Explore all industry sectors and roles

Look at the range of functions and roles within pharmaceuticals, biotechnology companies and contract research organisations. See below for a list of:

Research and Development is the typical area that attracts PhDs and Postdocs; within this falls drug discovery, preclinical, clinical research and process development. Drug discovery and preclinical research jobs are the typical jobs for PhDs and Postdocs; job titles within this area usually contain the word ‘scientist’.

Other roles include business development managers, regulatory affairs specialists, medical scientific liaison (MSL) specialists, medical writers and life science consultants.

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Developing your commercial awareness, by being aware

When attending an interview, one of the things you may be asked is a question around commercial awareness. Recruiters will want to know that you have a genuine interest in the commercial world and in particular they want to know that you are passionate about their business and the industry they work in. Demonstrating your knowledge and insights can be a daunting thing to do, but actually everyone (no matter their academic background), can do this.

Some of the questions you might be asked include:

  • How do you keep up to date with what is going on in our sector?
  • What challenges face our industry or business at this time?
  • What business story has interested you most recently?
  • Who are our competitors? What makes us different from them?

So how would you answer these?

If you are applying to a particular industry you should already be doing some research on the organisation you’re applying for. As you’re looking at their website, take some time to look at their recent news articles, their social media pages, even take a look at their Wikipedia page (although take that last one with a pinch of salt).

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Quick CV tips


We hope you’re enjoying the summer break, and making the most of the sunshine! Perhaps you’ve got yourself a part-time job, an internship or are researching graduate scheme deadlines for the coming term.

Whatever your situation, it’s always good to revisit your CV and make sure it’s as up-to-date as possible. If a job opportunity comes up at short notice, you’ll want to have your CV ready to send.

Here’s a few top tips to help you on your way, and remember you can always book an appointment with a Careers Consultant to receive feedback on your CV.

  • Recruiters don’t spend long looking at a CV, so you need to make sure yours is relevant to the role you’re applying for – this means you will need a different CV for each new role you apply for!
  • Read the job description and demonstrate the skills that are required. You should match your CV specifically to each point listed. Not sure what skills you have? See our post on transferable skills for some ideas.
  • See the following articles for key buzzwords and phrases to avoid (unless you can show evidence of these):

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