Finding a graduate job as an international student in the UK is painful.
You have either suffered that pain yourself or have heard that finding a job in the UK is impossible from others.
This Guide was voted on by our Facebook Group. They asked for a simple step by step guide on how to find a job in the UK as an international student.
7 Steps to Getting Hired (2021 Edition)
Is finding a job in the UK Impossible?
“UK companies don’t hire international students.”
“I applied to hundreds of jobs and got rejected…”
But you don’t believe them.
If you honestly thought finding a job in the UK was impossible you wouldn’t be here.
So, what do the official figures say?
We checked the UK Home Office Visa Statistics, for two figures.
In 2019-2020 (June to June) 9,245 Tier 4 students changed their Visa to a Tier 2 Visa.
Not impossible. But pretty damn hard.
NOTE: As of 21.05.21 these are still the most recent figures
This eBook is brought to you by…
I’m Mike. In 2013 I started coaching international students into jobs in the UK. 30,000+ students, 500+ clients and 8 years later I still love doing it.
In February 2020 I started my own company Job Ready English as I felt the quality of information and service that international students was getting was so poor.
No one is helping you bridge the gap between studies and career.
This guide will help you get started and teach you the basics to find a job in the UK. It’s hard, but this is just the final step in the long journey that brought you here to the UK.
P.S. I love hearing from you guys, let me know what you thought of the eBook or just say hello by sending an email to email@example.com . I may not be able to reply to everyone but I do read them all
From knowing nothing to getting a job.
You came to the UK to study, but deep down, you had a dream. A dream to stay and work in the UK.
But, you are starting to realise that randomly 1-click applying for jobs on Indeed and LinkedIn isn’t working
Finding a job in a foreign country is hard, so we wanted to create a basic guide you could follow to get you started.
We broke it down to 7 steps.
Step 1: The UK Graduate Jobs Market explained
Step 2: Key habits from previously successful students
Step 3: How long will it take to get a job?
Step 4: Getting a Job (From Start to Finish)
Step 5: 130+ Companies you can apply to
Step 6: What jobs should you apply to?
Step 7: The ONE Rule to passing job assessments
Follow the steps and put in the hard work along the way to massively increase your chances of finding a job in the UK.
Step 1: The UK Graduate Job’s Market Explained
Do you want a job or not?
Before we start planning our applications. We need to understand the UK graduate job market. We base our approach on the “best possible chance of success” rather than “I’ll only do this job and nothing else.“
The critical question is always “Do you want a job or not?”
The good news is that most big companies will hire graduates from ANY academic background.
It all comes down to Supply of Jobs vs Demand for Jobs.
See the orange line in the (badly drawn) chart below there is a big demand for jobs (blue line) , but a small supply of job (red line) = fewer jobs at a lower salary. (More detailed explanation of Supply and Demand here)
You want to look for jobs, where there is a big supply of jobs.
For example, if there is a big demand from employers for people who make cake but not a big supply of people who studied baking. You are more likely to find a job as a cake maker. (Also known as an Angel ��)
In the UK there is a big supply of graduates. In 2018/19 alone there were 2.39 million full and part time students in the UK, but a limited supply of good graduate jobs providing not just sample pay, but also good opportunities and experience.
What’s the 2021 Graduate Job Market Like?
We turn to information from the 2021 Graduate Highflier’s Report who have been reporting on graduate hiring trends for the past 27 years.
2020 – Bad
2021 – Better (ish) ?
In 2020 the Times Top 100 Employers aimed to recruit a record 24,760 graduates between Sep 2019 and Sep 2020 (Year are measured from September to September to correspond to academic years)
When COVID-19 hit full force in March 2020 this derailed those plans, as some employers chose to choose applications early.
Meaning that 3,700 fewer graduates were recruited than expected in 2020.
You can see the comparison across all industries in the table on the next page “Graduate Vacancies in 2020”
NOTE: In some of the tables you will see a red cross by certain industries. This is because they are UNLIKELY to give international students a work visa.
Graduate Vacancies in 2020
1) The industry or business sector
2) The recruitment target for 2020 as published in 2019
3) The revised target for 2020 as revised in Jan 2020 (broadly the target
was the same or revised up
4) The recruitment target for 2020 as revised in August 2020 (14 of 15
industries apart from Retail revised their targets downwards)
5) The actual number of graduates recruited by December 2020
6) The percentage change is versus the actual number of graduates
recruited by December 2019
Graduate Vacancies in 2021 by
Industry and Business Sector
13 out of 15 industries hired less graduates than they had targeted. Only Oil & Energy and Investment Banking recruiting more graduates than they did in 2019
From the table below: “Analysis of Graduate Vacancies in 2021 by Industry and Business Sector” we can see that broadly speaking there will be a 2.5% rise in the number of graduate vacancies (but this is subject to change based on the current conditions)
How will COVID-19 affect hiring by industry in 2021?
What does this mean for you?
You now know what industries the biggest employers of graduates are, and therefore most likely to sponsor international students.
We strongly advise you to apply for these industries alongside your own preference EVEN if you would not choose these industries.
Remember the key question “Do you want a job or not?”
If the answer is “YES” then you may need to adjust your expectations about what you will and will not do.
Many of these roles will accept graduates from ANY background.
As you can see from the table below “Changes to Graduate Vacancies from 2006 to 2021”, COVID-19’s effect is almost as bad as the 2008-09 Credit Crush and Global Recession.
Now more than ever, candidates will need to be informed, competitive, prepared and unfussy!
Step 2: Seven Key Habits for Success
I’ve worked with over 500 clients. Here are 7 helpful
habits that contributed to their success. Follow them to
increase your chances of success.
1. Start Applying Early
No matter how much you want a job, if you apply one day before the deadline, you are unlikely to get it. A deadline is not a target date to apply. As soon as graduate jobs open for your chosen companies and roles, you should prioritise getting those applications done. Companies won’t wait for all the applications to come in. They will be interviewing as soon as possible and giving out jobs, so every day you wait, there are fewer jobs to apply for. Better to be the first 1,000 competing for 250 jobs, than the last 10,000 competing for the 25 jobs left. Ideally, you should start looking into finding a job as soon as you hit the UK. Get an application plan together in Step 4 and get applying.
2. No Fluency, No Job
If you struggle with spoken and/or written English, THIS is your priority. Do not ignore it. Join a language club, find people to talk to online through apps like Hello Talk , Tandem and iTalki , get a teacher or just push yourself to speak to more people. Do not ignore your English level. Put an emphasis on speaking. If you cannot find anyone then practise by yourself.
The better your fluency, the higher your confidence and the greater the chance of you passing interviews and assessment centres. If you are stuck for ideas, join your local Toastmasters and improve your public speaking skills. Check
out a local Meet Up and find people who love what you love or volunteer at a charity shop.
3. Make Your Job Finding a Job
When I left University and started looking for a job, my Uncle said my “9 to 5” was to find a job. You don’t need to be that extreme, but you get out what you put in. Set aside time each week to get your CV done, send application forms, draft cover letters, practise online tests and find new opportunities. Create a system where you are putting in a certain amount of work each week. Many students concentrate on their studies, extracurriculars or even a parttime job. But is it going to get you a job that gives you a work visa? Stay focused on your priorities.
4. Quality Beats Quantity
Avoid 1 click applying on LinkedIn and Indeed. If it is easy for you, it will be easy for everyone. We use LinkedIn Sales Navigator and can see how many people apply for jobs in LinkedIn. We see 250+ people apply for one position within a few hours of it being posted.
Take the time to craft a great CV and Cover Letter, and answer questions to the best of your ability on a company’s website. It does make a difference, and you will make more progress over time. 1 click applying may seem productive,
but you need to measure it by results, not applications sent.
The better your fluency, the higher your confidence and the greater the chance of you passing interviews and assessment centres. If you are stuck for ideas, join your local Toastmasters and improve your public speaking skills. Check out a local Meet Up and find people who love what you love or volunteer at a charity shop.
5. Schedule in Practise
The big fear for most international students are interviews. Interviews are hard and you need time to write scripts and practise speaking. Do not wait to find a spare moment at University, because there will always be something to do. Schedule in time to practise. Involve your friends and make it fun.
The truth is, you need to practise for every stage of the application process from online test to assessment centre. Don’t wait until the day before. Get wise on what to expect and schedule in practise into your diary.
6. Accept it’s a Marathon and not a Sprint
The average graduate applies for 53 jobs. Our average client will apply for 20- 30 jobs before getting a role.
Have a seat. This may take a while.
Finding a job is time-consuming. Few students get a job straight away. This is a journey that will take months. So, pace yourself. Don’t go crazy. We regularly deal with clients who start to burn out. Better to do 20 minutes a day, than 2-3 hours a week in one day. This is a game of resilience, consistency, and persistence.
7. Don’t Take Failure Personally
Everyone fails. I have been rejected for more jobs than I can count. Billionaire Alibaba founder Jack Ma told a story of being one of 24 people who applied for a job at his local KFC. 23 got the job. He was the only one to get rejected.
Do not take it personally. You are still fantastic; you are just part of an enormous system of applications and moving parts. If you find yourself getting frustrated, depressed, or angry, this could be an early sign of burn out. Close the computer and take the day off. Recharge and come back energised.
Our successful clients all started early, had a clear plan and schedule to follow and never took failures personally. They had a clear goal in mind, and every day they took a step forward towards that goal.
Step 3: How Long Will It Take To Get A Job?
There is no textbook answer to
this question, and you know that
The better question to ask is what can I do
today to get one step closer to my goal?
The process you go through should be systematic. Remove as much randomness as possible, and have a clear idea of what you are doing each day.
Everything starts with clear goals in your application plan, then a systematic process of daily actions and practise.
Start early. Doing regular daily or weekly bite-sized chunks will yield results. Don’t wait until the last minute, and start randomly applying for any job you can find.
Step 4: A Start-To-Finish Guide to Get A Job
Below is a guide to follow to go from 0 to job. If your
English needs work, then make sure to put regular English
practice into your weekly schedule.
1) Complete your CV
The first step is always getting your CV done.
There are so many free resources online, we aren’t going to get into specifics.Want the template and guidelines we use with our clients? Download it here.
Nothing is going to happen without a professional CV. There is no shortage of resources online, and you can find them listed in The Best Job Search Tools for International Students. We especially love the content and tools from Zety and Jobscan. Also, the guide from the National Career’s Service is great.
Or you could just go and hire a professional writer for less than £20 on Fiverr to write it for you.
2) Application Plan
Would you set off on holiday without knowing where you were going? Of course not. That would be crazy…
Yet, when I ask students what their application plan is, it goes something like this:
“Just apply for any job, as many jobs as I can.”
“I want to work as a consultant at these 6 companies,and won’t work anywhere else.”
Too vague, or too specific. Both have a down side.
Without a plan, prepare yourself for hours of 1-click applying to any job on LinkedIn and Indeed, endless rejections for jobs you aren’t suitable for and don’t even sponsor until you start to lose the will to live. If your plan is too narrow, you are probably missing out on great opportunities that are a bit out of your comfort zone. Or you mistakenly believe you can only do a particular type of job.
Here are the steps to make an effective application plan.
1. Download our Tier 2 Sponsor List Google Sheet: We already picked out 83 of the biggest Tier 2 Sponsors plus all the links to their vacancies page. Start with those first
2. Use this list to make a spreadsheet of 40-50 ideal employers AT LEAST. Why 40-50? Steve Dalton explains this really well in his book “The 2 Hour Job Search”, most people can think of 10 or 20 companies they would like to work for. But 40, you are going to really stretch your thinking and get out of your comfort zone. Struggling to think of more companies? Check out Step 5 where we list over 130+ companies we cover ourselves split up by industry.
3. For additional companies you add besides our Times Top 100 list, check that they sponsor using Sponsor Tier 2 our free web application which makes it easy to look up companies, find their location and industry and also get a link straight to their website.
Or you could carry on using use the Government’s Tier 2 and 5, 1,000+ page
PDF here (and lose the will to live)
4. One you’re finished. Then start looking for vacancies at each of the companies (if you don’t know the best way to find vacancies check out our Job Search Tools) Struggling to know what job to apply to? Jump to Step 6.
5. When you are done, you should have something that looks like the table below
Once you have a clear destination then you can start systematically working through your applications.
3) Online Test Practise
Today, most companies will automatically invite students to sit online tests as soon as you submit your application form. Most will ask you to complete the tests within 5 days
What does that mean for you?
You should be familiar with the different types of tests, and what ones your industry will be using.
The main types of tests are:
• Numerical (Most common)
• Logical (Most common)
• Situational Judgement Tests (Most common)
• Verbal (Rare for most companies, apart from those who particularly need students with excellent English, Law for example)
• Job Simulations (companies like EY use multiple types of questions within one test, to create a realistic job simulation)
There are six major providers of online tests, with SHL being the market leader by some distance:
Get some practise tests and start practising as soon as you start your applications.
Why pay when you can get it for free?
Most free online tests are incomplete, unrealistic, or just ridiculously simple (like the 3 question IQ test that magically reveals you could be the next Einstein)
At Job Ready English, we use Job Test Prep with our bespoke coaching clients. They expect us to provide them with the best tools for the job and have been around since 1992. They give the broadest range of tests (500+) and stay updated with the latest tests from different companies.
Their platform is easy to use and provides detailed walkthrough answers .
See pricing below
DISCLAIMER: This page contains affiliate links and any purchase will also lead to us making money (so clickety click click!) 😂😂😂
4) Sending Applications
Did you prepare your application plan using our Times Top 100 Tier 2 Sponsor List ?
If not, go back and do this now. Don’t start randomly applying for jobs
You should have your list of 40+ companies and vacancies you can start systematically working through.
No applications. No jobs.
I remember sitting giving consultations to a long queue of international students in London. Every one of them I would ask how many jobs they had applied to.
The most common answer?
“Oh, like maybe 10.”
The average graduate will apply for over 50 jobs. That is not the number for an international student, just a regular home student.
1. Arrange your
Deadlines are there as a guide, not a target date for you to apply. You want to apply for a job AS SOON AS IT OPENS! That is when there are going to be the most jobs. Companies don’t wait until the deadline and go “Well, I guess we better get started.” They are continually pushing applicants through their process, and many times all the jobs are gone before the deadline
2. Set a weekly
Can you apply for 1 job a week, 2, 5? Whatever it is, set a reasonable target (One that does not make you want to throw your computer out of the window) and stick to it. I recommend batching. So, set aside 1-3 hours each week, and do as many applications as you can. Rather than “trying to find the time.” Job applications will drop in priority below everything else. Schedule the time or lose it.
3. Hit the big
Remember the Times Top 100 companies have the most jobs and money. Hit them first.
5) Weekly Vacancy Searching
Set aside time for looking for vacancies each week. As we always want to be applying for the latest vacancies. Companies are continually opening and closing applications, so we want to keep up to date.
Wherever you can, create an automatic system that does not need you
Use Google Alerts
1. Google the name of the job you want. For example, “Graduate Finance Analyst”, under your search, you will see a box that says “Jobs”, click the little Arrow below that says “100+ more jobs.”
2. Check the top tab. There are three options “Jobs”, “Saved” and “Alerts”, click “Alerts”, or you can simply switch the “New job alerts” button on, in the bottom left-hand corner
3. Sign up. Use your Gmail and get Google Alerts for that job sent to your email
You will still need to check companies against sponsorship lists, which you can do easily using Sponsor Tier 2.
Couldn’t be simpler. Reduce hours spent each week trawling through Indeed, LinkedIn and 10 other jobs boards, to 10-15 minutes a day searching through a custom list that Google sends for your chosen roles.
6) Interview Practise
If successful with your online tests you will be asked to submit a video interview within 5 working days depending on the company.
Interviews will start coming thick and fast, so you want to make sure you are preparing ahead of time
If you want to do it yourself, then the easiest thing to do is to research recent questions through Glassdoor , Student Rooms or Wikijobs and then get your scripts written up. Here are some quick tips:
1. Do not write scripts for all the questions you come across. Pick the 10- 20 most likely ones, and just stick with those, there will always be questions you weren’t prepared for
2. Concentrate on practising speaking, rather than scriptwriting. 70% + of interviews are conducted via video, so get into the habit of recording and reviewing your answers
3. Get some feedback. Do not just keep watching and recording, get a friend, parent, teacher, or guy next door to give you some feedback and pointers
Struggling to prepare? Check out our free courses on Skillshare
7) Assessment Centre Practise
Practising for Assessment centres can be tricky. Because you need exercises and other people.
Luckily, many assessment centres are now digital which is a good thing for international students. Why?
Many companies won’t do group exercises. For international students, this is what they fear the most.
So, what should you concentrate on?
• Writing business reports (for written exercises)
• Giving Presentations
• Practising Case Studies
You can find a tonne of great free resources online.
We also love what Management Consulted do, as they have been going since 2008, and specialise in jobs at Management Consulting companies with a heavy emphasis on case studies.
Here is a selection of some great sites, to find free case studied to practise. Do them by yourself or turn them into group discussions with some friends.
• Acadia Institute of Case Studies (Wide variety of business cases)
• University of New Mexico Free Case Studies (Wide variety of case studies related to ethics)
• HR Open Source (HR)
• World’s Best-Case Studies (Video)
• Merlot (California State University System)
• MIT Sloan School of Management (Wide variety of business cases)
• University of British Columbia (Wide variety of business cases)
Just like interviews, the best way to improve is a regular practice. Make your practice as close to the real thing as possible.
Step 5: What Companies Should I Apply To?
You should already have your list of 40+ companies, but we wanted to go the extra mile and give you industry specific lists of 130+ companies we help our clients to apply to.
All these companies were actively hiring and sponsoring international students as of 21/05/21.
Use Sponsor Tier 2 to check any companies you are unsure of. We have no pre-existing relationships with these companies, nor prior knowledge of their recruitment process and ability to sponsor work permits at any give time.
• Grant Thornton
• RSM Tenon
• UHY Hacker Young
• Dixon Wilson
Banking and Finance
• Bank of England
• Lloyds Banking Group
• London Stock Exchange Group
• S&P Global
• Fidelity International
• M & G Investments
• McKinsey & Company
• Boston Consulting Group
• Bain & Company
• Korn Ferry
• Johnson & Johnson
• Enterprise Rent-A-Car
• Jaguar Land Rover
• Network Rail
• Mott McDonald
• EDF Energy
• Legal and General
• Munich RE
• Willis Towers Watson
• RSA Group
• NFU Mutual
• Direct Line Group
• J.P. Morgan
• Goldman Sachs
• Morgan Stanley
• Bank of America
• Rothschild & Co
• Clifford Chance
• Allen & Overy
• Slaughter and May
• Baker McKenzie
• Herbert Smith Freehills
• DLA Piper
• Pinsent Masons
• Hogan Lovells
• Norton Rose Fulbright
• White & Case
• Irwin Mitchell
• Marks & Spencer
• John Lewis Partnership
• The Hut Group
• Micro Focus
• Tik Tok
Notable absences: Chemicals & Pharmaceuticals, Media, and Oil & Gas (we do not tend to deal with these industries, so we have not included them in this list)
If you want more companies we suggest you use Sponsor Tier 2 to quickly and easily search for companies.
Traditionally we have found that most jobs for international students will be in these industries.
Step 6: What Job Should I Apply To?
Do you want a job or not?
Many of these companies don’t care what you studied, and you need no prior experience. For some companies you may need to have gotten a 2:1 or 60% for your bachelor’s degree to be eligible to apply.
Remember the critical question we asked you all the way back at the start of this guide?
“Do you want a job or not?”
This is an important question to ask yourself now you have assembled an enormous list of companies.
You may think that because you studied an Engineering degree, you can only apply to Engineering companies.
You can apply for Engineering companies, but you can also apply to any companies and any role that demands the skill set you have.
Like Audit. Like Finance.
In fact, if you look at our successful track record, you will notice most of our clients go on to work in a set number of roles:
They have been students from a wide range of academic background.
In our experience, a student rarely goes onto work in the field that they studied.
So, be expansive in your mindset.
Make 2 lists.
a) A list of jobs and companies you would love to work for and at
b) A list of companies and jobs that you know will give Visas, looking at the list of roles and companies above.
Instead of trying to be different, follow a tried and tested method used by hundreds of students before you.
Step 7: How Do I Pass Online Tests, Interviews and Assessment Centres?
Practise. Practise. Practise.
We have already set out some practical steps that you can follow.
But one thing that does not change is the need for practice. Don’t waste time looking for shortcuts, just put one foot in front of the other and starting putting in the hours.
You will try. You will fail. You will learn.
Do not be disheartened as someone who always passes and excels if you fail. You are just learning.
Even for our bespoke coaching clients, it takes at least 2 interviews to progress to the next round in most cases.
Wherever you can make the practice as realistic to the real thing. Be honest about your weaknesses and relish the chance to improve.
With persistence and consistency, successful or not, you will come away from the process of finding a job in the UK a more practical and resilient person.
After all, if 9,000, other international students can do it.
You can do it too.
Want our Help ?
Since 2013, I’ve been helping students and professionals get hired at the world’s biggest companies. We provide a limited amount of coaching places to clients for a fee.
If you want to know more about coaching, email your CV to
firstname.lastname@example.org with the title “7 Steps Coaching”
P.S. You must be 1) In the UK 2) A student 3) Have 6 months or more left on your Visa
Our thanks to all our sources of information, without
whom this eBook would not have been possible.
1. UK Home Office National Statistics
3. Universities UK
4. High Fliers
5. The Times Top 100 Graduate Employers
6. “The 2 Hour Job Search” by Steve Dalton
7. Hello Talk
11. Meet Up
12. Charity Retail
16. National Career’s Service
21. Saville Assessment
23. The Student Room
24. Management Consulted
25. Acadia Institute
26. University of New Mexico
27. HR Open Source
28. World’s Best Case Studies
30. MIT Sloan School of Management
31. University of British Columbi
More of a Visual Learner or prefer Video?
We made this whole Guide into a Series of easy to follow videos on Youtube. Just click Play below.
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