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Work in the UK

Working abroad sounds like an adventure to many people. However, it requires thorough preparation, starting with a successful application. We have put together a brief guide to looking for work in the UK. For more detailed information, consult the full guide on the United Kingdom.

Work permits in the UK

If you are a student from an EEA country, you are free to move and work wherever you want to, within the EEA (including the UK) without a permit. You will be able to work both during and after finishing your studies, and you may need to register as a worker under the Worker Registration Scheme. You must apply for a residence permit. This is valid for five years and should be issued within six months of your arrival. Contact the British embassy in your home country for more information.

The application procedure in the UK

There are two primary ways of finding graduate employment in the UK: graduate schemes and direct entry.

Graduate schemes are generally offered by large organizations. They include a period of paid training and work and usually last between eighteen months and three years. Competition for placement on a scheme is intense; most students instead enter the job market through direct entry.

Direct entry means applying for a job that is not part of a graduate scheme. Smaller organizations and employers looking for specialist skills or experience often employ graduates in this way.

While some large graduate employers recruit year-round on a rolling basis, the majority of graduate schemes follow a recruitment cycle. Generally, jobs will be advertised in the fall of the final year of study and employment begins the following fall. Certain sectors, such as banking and finance, may begin advertising in September with a closing date in November.

Direct entry positions are advertised year-round as positions open up. Generally employers will expect you to begin work directly following the recruitment process, so these positions are sometimes unsuitable to apply for before you have finished your degree program.

Your university’s career center will be able to provide you with a range of resources to help you with your job search. These resources might include career fairs, employer presentations, skill sessions or workshops for developing your skills, and online vacancy databases.

Writing a CV in the UK

The key focus of your CV should be to persuade the employer to invite you for an interview. Therefore your CV is a marketing tool, which should be adapted to the market in which you intend to use it. The British CV is short, a maximum of two pages in length. It is common in the UK to give the contact details of two references at the end of the CV.

You will most likely have multiple versions of your CV, each specifically tailored to whichever job to which you are applying. While writing each CV, think about the skills for which the employer is asking, and try to provide specific examples of these skills from your coursework, work experience, or hobbies. Remember that the goal of your CV is to sell yourself; describe your key achievements in work, study, and other experience, rather than just your responsibilities. Employers want to know what you can do for them.

For more help in crafting the perfect CV, check out our Resume Writing Center.

The application letter in the UK

Many companies in the United Kingdom use application forms instead of letters. If the job to which you are applying does require an application letter, do your best to open your letter by addressing the recipient by name; you should be able to find this information through the company’s website, or by calling the office. Try to avoid “Dear Sir/Madam” or “To whom it may concern” unless absolutely necessary.

Your first paragraph should be an introduction, and explain how you heard of the company and position. The next paragraph or two should detail why you are a good fit for the position. Try to be as specific as possible, using examples from previous work experience or your studies. Finally, reiterate your interest in the position and include your contact information in the final paragraph and thank the employer for their consideration of your application materials.

For more information about working in the UK, visit the Job Search section of our Study in the UK study center.

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