Careers ServiceImprove your chances of securing a job

Applying for jobs is tricky to navigate.  Doing it in a new country and possibly a new language is a real challenge that takes planning, time and effort.

The section below identifies some common challenges that international students and graduates may face. It also offers tips and advice to help overcome them.

Understand UK culture

To improve this:

  • talk to UK people, including classmates, at every opportunity
  • contribute during seminars
  • put out your cultural feelers and observe and learn from others' behaviour
  • join a club or society at StrathUnion

Understand British work practices

To improve this you can get a better understanding of business culture with this guide to cross-cultural etiquette: Cultural Crossing Guide.

CVs & application forms in a non-UK format

To improve this:

  • read the Making Applications section on our site 
  • use action words, eg defined, co-ordinated: (clicking will download a word document) Action Words for CVs (Word doc)
  • think about your skills and evidence for them
  • use resources such as Grammarly to check language and spelling
  • attend a Briefing Session on Preparing your CV or Application Forms - book via MyCareer (DS Login)
  • build your CV then use the Careers Toolkit CV 360 (DS login)
  • book a CV/application/cover letter check

Interview skills

To improve this:

  • look at the interviews pages on the Careers Service website
  • use the Careers Toolkit Interview Simulator (DS login)
  • talk to friends about their experiences
  • attend a Briefing Session on Interviews (book via MyCareer)
  • arrange a practice interview with a Careers Consultant

Articulate skills and match skills to the job

It's essential to be able to clearly articulate your skills to an employer. Employers will not assume you have a particular skill set based purely on the titles of your qualifications or previous roles. You need to make this explicit for them in your applications:

  1. The first step to doing this is to identify the skills they are looking for. You can find this information in the job advert. Look for any skills, qualities or attitudes that they ask for. If you're struggling to understand the language in the job advert, you might want to try this jargon decoder tool.
  2. Next, reflect on the skills you have. These could be transferable skills like communication and problem-solving, or technical skills such as quantum analysis or financial modelling.  Start with our interactive online course Choosing My Career to help you reflect on your skills.
  3. Finally, reflect on the evidence you can use for each of these skills.  It's one thing to state that you have a skill, but it's much more effective to give clear evidence for developing or demonstrating that skill. The best evidence is giving a specific example that demonstrates your ability to use the skill in practice.  Evidence can come from work experience, your academic studies or extracurricular activities. Our Making Applications section will help with how to format your evidence at different stages of the recruitment process.

Qualifications do not match UK requirements

State UK equivalence clearly on a CV or application form. See the explaining your qualifications information.

Networking skills

To improve this you can:

  • talk to people you meet, and make connections
  • use LinkedIn and other social networking sites
  • attend careers events: check the Events Calendar and book via MyCareer
  • see our advice on Networking and Social Media
  • get your LinkedIn profile checked (book a CV check appointment)

Employers hesitant to employ international students

To improve this:

  • read the information given on the Careers Service website to improve your understanding of UK recruitment and labour market
  • attend Careers Service briefing sessions and webinars on relevant topics - book via MyCareer (DS login required)
  • make sure you attend any Careers Education sessions delivered as part of your course
  • make an appointment with a Careers Consultant

English language and written skills

Employers in the UK expect international applicants to demonstrate a good level of written and spoken English.

There are many ways you can improve your English communication skills while studying.

Make sure you take time to practice with friends. It can be tempting to speak to classmates from your home country in your own language, but try speaking to them in English. The more you practice, the more confident you will feel.

To improve this:

The conversational English skills you develop through these activities will help you to succeed in interviews.