Careers in the UK: Introduction to job hunting for international students

It’s one thing to move to the UK and begin studying in a whole new country… but on top of this, getting to know about careers and jobs in the UK can feel tricky at first! How do job hunting and the application processes work? When should I apply to vacancies and how should I approach job hunting as an international student?

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Photo by James Newcombe on Unsplash

In this series of blogs, we’ll cover all about the things you need to know about Careers in the UK as an international student. King’s Careers & Employability have just released new resources and a whole new layout on our International Students KEATS section – to answer all of your jobs and career-related questions.

For the first blog of the series, let’s talk about what the jobhunting process is like in the UK, what etiquette there is to finding work and how you are expected to contact employers for jobs.


Searching for jobs

There are a few ways that people in the UK can search for jobs. These include: using job vacancy sites, networking and applying speculatively.

Vacancy sites: One of the most common ways people find jobs is through online platforms and job vacancy boards. As a student at King’s, your first choice should be King’s CareerConnect! It’s our jobs and opportunities board where employers list vacancies in all industries, full and part-time roles and even volunteering positions.

For international students, there are luckily plenty of specialised and dedicated vacancy pages for jobs and internships. Read our blog to find out the best websites for your job hunt!  You can search for jobs with keywords, location and with many other filters to make sure you find suitable roles. To start with, look for “student”, “internship” or “part-time” roles.

Networking: In addition to looking for vacancies on the vacancy listing pages, you can also find work through your networks. This means that if you are professionally engaged within an industry, for example as a volunteer, an intern or part-time worker, you may hear about opportunities or even offered a role. Another way of finding jobs through networks is using LinkedIn, where you can connect with jobs and employers. You may hear about opportunities here.

Applying speculatively: Speculative applications are not uncommon. It means that you apply for a company you would like to work in, even if they are not currently hiring. You leave a CV and cover letter for the hiring manager in hopes that they will know to contact you if there are suitable roles – which means that you might need to be very patient to hear back from them.


Jobs & visas

If you are an international student and require a visa, make sure you check your visa for restrictions for working. If you have a Student visa (this is the new name for a Tier 4 visas as of 5 October 2020) your visa will restrict you to a maximum of 20 hours of work per week. When you search for jobs, you can sometimes filter results for jobs that cater to visa-bearing students specifically.

For EU students in the UK, the development of Brexit will affect you in some ways from January 2021

  • Current EU students who are living in the UK before 1 January 2021 need to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme to continue living in the UK after 30 June 2021.
  • For prospective EU students, the current government guidelines are still changing. The ways in which the Student visa route for future EU students looks in practice will become clearer as Britain’s exit from the European Union develops.


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UK job application process

When applying for jobs in the UK, you can usually expect to apply either

1) Applying to vacancies – this means you are applying for a specific job opening. After finding a vacancy that you are interested to apply in, you will begin your application process. This includes

      • Researching the company and the job, by reading their website and the job description.
      • Writing a CV and a cover letter in response to the job description
      • Sending your application. Depending on the employer, this may be done via email, but online application portals are becoming common. This means that you will fill in your professional and personal details and attach your application documents directly within the company’s online job portal.

2) Speculatively – this means that you send your CV and cover letter to a company, either via email or by meeting them physically, in the hopes that when they have a job opening, they have your details to contact you for a potential interview. Even if you don’t have a job description to prepare with, you should prepare thoroughly by researching the company.


The recruitment timeline

Companies usually give applicants between few weeks to around a month to advertise their vacancy, after which they will begin the process of reviewing applications, invite candidates for interview and choose the most suitable candidate. Many companies who run placements, schemes or internships, recruit at specific times of the year. For the recruitment times for your industries of interest, you will need to research a little – a great place to start are our Industry Guides on KEATS!

Wondering about how much time you have to apply for a role? There is usually a deadline described in the job vacancies – in our vacancy portal, King’s CareerConnect, you’ll see the deadlines for each work opportunity written clearly.

Give yourself plenty of time to complete the application process – including research, writing and editing your application. Don’t leave it to the day before! With King’s Careers & Employability, you can receive support with your application with an Application Advisor – these appointments are bookable through King’s CareerConnect and reserved up to 48h in advance. It’s a good idea to get feedback on your CV and Cover letter before sending them to employers.


That’s it… our quick guide through job hunting in the UK. Don’t forget to check out our new advice pages on KEATS dedicated to international students. In our next blog, we’ll talk more about what makes a UK style CV, and how King’s Careers & Employability supports you in creating a great CV!


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