The United Kingdom has long been a hotspot for internationally minded students and graduates looking for an entry into the workforce. The recently started process of Britain leaving the European Union proves to be a bit of a headache for both employers and graduates - still, we are going look at the opportunities in Britain now (and we include some Brexit info at the end of this article).
Where to find jobs as a graduate in the United Kingdom
Cities & industries: There is a large variation in the dominant field from region to region and from city to city. London is the go-to location for anyone wanting to work in finance, insurance or banking, but don’t restrict your job search just to the nation’s capital - Leeds and Edinburgh are also important business hubs.
Many international companies have their headquarters in Manchester so if you are looking to start your career in PR or marketing, it’s the perfect location. Alternatively, if you’re interested in working in a creative role try Brighton or Bristol, they’re both lively cities teeming with innovative and unconventional businesses. And for anyone looking to work in engineering Scotland (for example, Glasgow) is the place to go; the government is investing heavily in its energy infrastructure.
In Northern Ireland, the obvious hub to look for job opportunities is Belfast.
Our Top Tips
- The UK is a big job market, but also a competitive one, so start looking early and polish up any language skills you have in addition to English.
- For the time being, London is still Europe’s main hub for investment banking. If you’re a (finance) students looking to break into this field, you should know your “front office” and your “back office”: Read our guide to investment banking internships in London.
- It doesn’t always have to be finance - the UK has a quite lively startup scene as well. If that’s more your thing, look into our guide for startup jobs and internships.
- Still playing with the thought of getting that Master’s degree? The British postgraduate experience may be with worth looking into...
Preparing your CV and cover letter for the UK
Our Top Tips
Your cover letter should include whatever makes you stand out from the crowd - and be confident in presenting yourself! In contrast to other European countries, cover letters in the UK are very much focused on what you have to offer, rather than what attracts you to the company. They work best if they provide evidence which backs up exactly why you are so brilliant, so try to include some examples of where you have done well either in your previous employment or education.
Your CV should NOT include pictures, your marital status, date of birth or nationality (unless the employer requests it, but strict discrimination policies usually prevent them from doing that). Also, the trend in the UK is for short and succinct CVs. You should aim to make your CV no longer than two pages, but many employers will be impressed if you can fit it on one page.
Getting in touch with employers in the UK
Our Top Tips
Language: The popularity of the UK for international job seekers is also due to the fact that with English as an official language, the language barrier for entering the job market is relatively low. However, this also raises the competition since English is so widely spoken in the world. If you haven’t used English outside of school as a non-native speaker, you should probably brush it up before diving into the job search. Also, professional knowledge of other languages could set you apart from other candidates, so make sure to highlight these in any job application.
References: Managers in the UK don’t tend to write references when a candidate leaves a job and this means that employees in the UK don’t have a file with references from all their previous employers. It’s usual to write “references on request” on your CV and this indicates that you have previous employers or managers who will act as your referees. Employers normally ask for these after you have passed the first interview round and will expect you to provide a work phone number or e-mail address.
If you have previously worked in the UK it’s common practice to ask your former manager before you pass on their contact details. This gives them a chance to prepare what they will say if contacted as part of the hiring process.
Working and living in the UK
Our Top Tips
- For finding visa information: UK Visas and Immigration
- For finding housing: Portals such as EasyRoommate, SpareRoom or dedicated Facebook groups
- For starting another university education: British Council - Study UK
- For knowing the difference between England, Great Britain, and the United Kingdom: Youtube Video explaining the difference in 5 minutes
To read some personal accounts of moving to the UK, read our interview with a Danish exchange student in London or the blog entry about working abroad in the UK coming from New Zealand.
Brexit info for students & graduates
The question remains to what extent Britain leaving the EU (the infamous “Brexit”) will affect your ability to find internships and graduate jobs in the UK. We are keeping an eye on the discussions, and have put together a small preliminary guide for UK in- and outbounds. While there is still a lot of insecurity about what’s going to happen over the next 2 years, there are two points that you should keep an eye on:
- Potential changes in the free mobility of EU citizens to and from the UK (and along with that, changes in visa and sponsorship regulations)
- Possible headquarters shifts of multinational companies towards EU business hubs (in the banking sector, the main focus so far is on Dublin, Amsterdam and Frankfurt am Main), leading to more job opportunities there.
P.S.: Do you have other countries on your wishlist for work life? Let us know!