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:

  1. Use your international status to your advantage.

Think about what sets you apart as an international graduate. Do you have specific language skills or experience of working overseas that home students don’t have?

Take time to research companies operating in your sector that might be attracted by your language skills or knowledge of other cultures. International banking and finance organisations, for example, are often keen to recruit graduates with a global perspective.

        4. Apply for jobs early.

Many companies have long recruitment processes which means you must apply for jobs early on in your final year.

Book 1-2-1 appointments with Careers & Enterprise to help improve your CV and personalise every application. This process can take some time and you will need to devote your attention to delivering a few quality applications rather than copying and pasting your CV for every application. Quality, not quantity, is always the best advice for making successful job applications in the UK.

If you secure a job you will also need to apply for your working visa before your student visa expires.

  1. Network your way into a job.

Use any contacts that you have to connect with UK companies. If you previously worked in an engineering or finance company in another country with an office in London, email your contacts to see if they can put you in touch with their connections at the UK office.

Visit Careers & Enterprise regularly and keep an eye on the events calendar. Attend international student-focused careers fairs to introduce yourself to discover what companies are looking for and how they recruit.

Alumni networks are another great way to contact past graduates from other countries who are now working in the UK:

  1. Have a backup plan if you can’t stay in the UK. 

If you are struggling to find a job in the UK, it’s good to consider backup options at home or other countries. Sites like GradLink UK specialise in linking international students who have studied in the UK with employers in their home country.

Job hunting and making applications in the UK is a challenging and involved process for international students. It requires consistent effort and focus to deliver the required results, i.e. a job with a visa.

Remember, international students can receive ongoing support to assist them through this difficult time by booking 1-2-1 appointments with a Careers Consultant.

Deborah Scott Anderson, Careers Consultant


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