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Working in the UK as an international student Job seeking

If you’re an OU student based outside the UK, and you’d like to come to the UK to work, the OU’s Careers and Employability Services can help you in job seeking and making job applications. We're not able to give advice on visas or legal requirements, but we can direct you to where to find information and support.

Where to start 

Start by using the government Work in the UK website to research your options. This includes an online check to see if you need a visa to work in the UK. It's important to be aware that studying with the OU does not qualify you for the UK Student visa or the Graduate visa. If you’re looking into the Skilled Worker visa, research the specific requirements (e.g. job type, minimum salary etc.) when applying to potential vacancies. Consider possible shortage occupations as these can be more flexible in terms of their requirements.  

To start looking for potential employers, try contacting your country’s embassy to see if they have lists of companies based in the UK. If you’ve seen a specific role you’d like to apply for, contact the HR department of the employer to find out if the role can be sponsored. If you've held any prior permission to work in the UK, discuss this with them. They may also have an immigration team who can help.

You can check whether an employer currently holds a license to sponsor UK working visas by looking at the Register of licensed sponsors for Worker and Temporary Worker immigration routes. It's also worthwhile speaking to specialist recruitment agencies in the UK to see what opportunities may be available, particularly if you have sought-after skills or knowledge. Always make sure any information you have is up to date and seek professional legal advice where necessary. You may also be able to get advice from a registered immigration specialist in your home country or in the UK.  

Gaining work experience 

In general, it's easier to get experience in your home country first and then build on that abroad, rather than seek a first job in a new country. Employers will generally view experience gained in your country positively particularly if you're able to develop specific skills or knowledge which may be in demand. Or if you find work with an international company which has offices in the UK, you may be able to gain an inter-company transfer. Also consider gaining as many credentials as possible such as student professional body membership and other relevant accreditations. 

There are a number of organisations and schemes that may be able to support you to gain sponsorship for work experience in the UK through the Government Authorised Exchange visa (Temporary Work), and in some cases may be able to help you find work experience. These organisations and schemes are listed in the Immigration Rules Appendix Government Authorised Exchange schemes.

Building a network 

Networking can be really important when moving to a new country. You may have contacts in the UK through friends, family, colleagues or previous places you’ve worked. Try accessing online or in-person networking events and graduate fairs to help you make contacts. If you’re planning a visit to the UK, meeting face-to-face will gain a stronger impact. Use LinkedIn to connect to professionals working in areas you’re interested in and try joining UK LinkedIn groups related to your career area. Use the OU alumni tool to search fellow alumni from your country. 

How to present yourself successfully 

It’s important to research how to apply for jobs in the UK thoroughly. Many jobs will be very competitive, and it's crucial you're able to present yourself well. Think about the unique skills or knowledge you can offer a company in the UK such as technical skills, specific knowledge of your home country or language skills. It’s important to demonstrate you have the right skills for the job, you have an interest in the company and align with their values and you have done your research. Use our interactive tools and resources to help you stand out in CVs, applications and interviews

International qualifications  

In practice, many employers in the UK will be familiar with international qualifications. However, when listing qualifications gained outside the UK on a CV or job application, make sure to give some explanation and context, particularly when referring to scores or grading, for example “New York University, BA in Business Studies, Grade Point Average 3.66 (max. 4.00)”. If you're required by your employer to have a statement of comparability for what your qualifications are equivalent to in the UK, the UK ENIC (National Information Centre for Recognition and Evaluation of International Qualifications) will provide this for a fee. For professional qualifications such as law or engineering, check with the relevant UK professional body if they are valid or whether you need further accreditation. 

If you need further support with job seeking, the job application and recruitment process or career planning, get in touch with the careers team.  

Last updated 5 months ago