All change in the UK!

From July 1st there will be a new

Graduate Immigration Route for International Students.

meaning they can stay in the UK
and work for two years after graduation
(further details)

This is a substantial increase on the current timeframe of around 4 month
for most international students, meaning that you have a much more
realistic window for securing a graduate job

What the new immigration route means for international students
- explained by UWE Bristol Student Visa Support Service

GradLink has set up the following section to help you to prepare for these changes,
and to maximise your chances of getting a graduate job in the UK.


See our GradLink 7-point plan to getting a graduate job in the UK below.

*Look out for our new GradLink United Kingdom site, which will launch in 2021*
*and will include job vacancies in the UK for international students.*

First things first

Government regulations are subject to change, so before applying for graduate jobs in the UK, you should always check the 
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) website.


GradLink’s 7 top tips for getting a graduate job in the UK

Connect with your university careers service ASAP

When you study in the UK, you have free access to your university’s careers service right through your studies – and often for some time after you have completed your course.

Start using your university careers service as soon as you can – from year one ideally – so that they can help you to start building your portfolio of work experience, and be in a position to really compete for graduate job roles when the time comes to apply.

Your university careers service will have a team of experts who can help you to find jobs and work experience, write your CV and prepare for interview. Your careers service can help you to find opportunities in the UK, your home country, and globally.

Start getting work experience ASAP (includes voluntary work!)

There is no doubt that getting work experience during your studies, or afterwards – whether paid or unpaid – dramatically increases your chance of getting into the job you want.

You should start building a portfolio of work experience as early as you can during your studies – ideally from year one – so that you have gathered a range of experience by the time you graduate. This will build your contacts and make you very competitive in the job market.

Most international students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term time, and full time during vacations. Check your visa conditions at the UKCISA website.

Your university careers service can help you to get work experience.

Work experience in areas related to your career of interest is particularly valuable. However, any work experience that helps you develop key skills and commercial experience enhances your CV too.

While all work experience you gain helps sell you, any work experience you gain in the UK helps show the employer you can function effectively in the UK. In addition, employers who know you through work experience are much more likely to employ you when you graduate.

Volunteering is an excellent way to gain work experience. It doesn’t matter whether work experience is paid or not – it’s what you have done that matters. For example, fundraising work for a charity is excellent experience for getting into a career in finance. Your university careers service can help you to get volunteering. The following sites may also help.

Structured experience opportunities, such as Internships and placements, are a great way to get a foot in the door of an organisation. Your university careers service can also help you to source these.

Some universities have specific placement schemes for international students, such as the International Talent Internship Scheme at UWE Bristol.

See also

You will increase your chances of getting work experience dramatically by networking. This means approaching employers and contacts directly, which you can do through LinkedIn (see next section).

How to get a job in the UK:
The story of an international student 1.

Start connecting with international alumni working in the UK

One of the best ways to access jobs and work experience with an employer in the UK, is through networking. Employers or employees who were themselves international students in the UK, are likely to be among the most valuable of contacts.

LinkedIn enables you to search for graduates from your university by job, country and keyword.

GradLink careers video: using LinkedIn effectively explains how you can build a winning profile and connect with alumni.

Brand your international USPs

As an international student, your unique experience of studying and living in another country will have developed some of the key skills and qualities that employers look for to a very high standard.

It is important to sell these skills when applying for jobs and opportunities.

Skills and qualities you can offer as an international student

Skill Evidence

You have had to adapt to a new environment and its culture.

Organisational skills

You have had to organise accommodation, finance, visas, employment etc.


Living abroad requires using and developing communication skills on a daily basis so that people can understand your requirements.

Language skills

Your knowledge of more than one language could help an organisation to communicate with overseas markets and suppliers.


Your willingness to take your studies overseas and embrace new cultures and experience demonstrates how committed you are to learning and developing as an individual.


Adapting to a new life in a new environment. Also international students are often more mobile and happy to move to different locations around the UK in order to work.

A broadened perspective

Your experiences of how cultures vary can bring a fresh perspective to a company. It may provide an insight into different ways of doing business.

Cultural awareness

You could use your particular cultural background to advise and inform an organisation on how to make the right impact on their international customers and clients.

How to get a job in the UK:
The story of an international student 2

Perfect your (video) interviewing skills

The graduate job interview is the opportunity to sell your skills, qualities, learning and experience. This includes selling your USPs as an international student and the soft skills that the employer is looking for. It is also a chance to show the employer your fluency with English and your understanding of their expectations as a UK employer.

GradLink careers video session: succeeding at video interviews provides advice on how to prepare the right space for online interviews, how to familiarise yourself with the technology involved, and how to prepare for giving the best answers to interview questions.

Target the right employers

With the introduction of the new visa changes, the range of employers open to recruiting international students will increase. While the below is by no means an exhaustive list, it suggests some factorsthat may increase the likelihood of the employertaking on an international student/graduate.

Factor Notes
Is the job a shortage occupation? See Home Office’s shortage occupation list. These are occupations where graduates are likely to be in higher demand
What size is the company? Historically, employers who need large numbers of graduates have recruited international students e.g. some large accountancy or engineering firms. However, with the changes outlined, it will be much easier for SMEs to recruit international students so these are a possibility too.
Does the company have specific graduate programmes for international students? Some companies run schemes that allow graduates to train in the UK offices for 1 or more years, and then relocate to the organisation in their home countries, subject to the needs of their business.
·Does the employer know you - through you're having done a placement, work-shadowing, volunteering, or project with them? Hence, the huge advantage of gaining work experience (paid or unpaid) with that employer. See our above section on getting work experience. Most international students are allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during term time and full time during vacations. Check your visa conditions at the UKCISA website.
Has the employer recruited international students/graduates before? See our advice on sourcing alumni contacts in industry on LinkedIn.
Is the vacancy looking for a particular language or cultural knowledge that you can offer? Search sites like Indeed
Does the employer have strong links with your home country? The UK-based embassy for your country may be able to provide lists of UK employers with links to your country.

Sources of vacancies

The following graduate recruitment websites have advertised positions for international students:

Get the timing right

For formal graduate schemes, large graduate employers typically recruit a year in advance in the UK, with recruitment starting from the summer onwards for a start date of September in the following year.

Therefore, if you want to do a graduate scheme straight after graduation, you should aim to begin applying for graduate jobs at the start of your final year or the start of your masters to maximise your chances of success.

However, the new graduate immigration route offers a longer window for applying for jobs. Hence, for other job opportunities, you have more time to build up your CV during your studies, and then applying.  

Hence, with the new changes, you have more options to consider in terms of the optimum time to start applying for jobs.