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Firstly can I just say how much I admire student’s whose first language is not English for taking the plunge and doing an degree in another language. I am currently learning Portuguese, so I feel your pain when you are rapidly translating and conjugating just to say something simple.

So my first piece of advice is…. keep up the good work

You passed your IELTS test to get into the University, now you need to keep learning. You need to learn different parts of English for different tasks.

  1. The language of academia, from your texts, lecturers and seminars.
  2. Social language to make friends and fully engage with student life.
  3. Business and work language to apply for jobs and experience.

Take it to the next level

You are going to need to make English speaking friends and use English regularly to develop your social speaking skills and the skills you will need at work. It’s very tempting to make friends with students who speak the same language as you; obviously you have lots in common. But it won’t help you long term.

Practice Practice Practice.

  • Challenge yourself and your friends to have English speaking days.
  • Watch English language films, news. radio & TV, go to employer or alumni networking events.
  • Join a society or volunteer. (A good place to start if you are shy or need to practice)
  • Get a part time job.
  • Partner up with an English speaker who wants to learn your language, teach each other, this will really test your grammar and vocabulary.
  • Banish books written in your own language to the back of the shelf, read, write, think in English.

You need to be able to write business standard English too if you are going to apply for a job in the UK. Your friends and academics will forgive spelling and grammatical errors, employers are not so forgiving. In the world of business where you may be writing reports or technical notes, mistakes could cost the business time and money. Your CV and application is an indicator of your ability so you need to be able to get it right.

Good news, help is available

You already have a good standard of English but job applications use unfamiliar phrases and expect language to be used slightly differently.

  • You may be writing in bullet points, in a very concise manner.
  • Talking about skills, using action verbs
  • Talking about yourself in a way that may appear boastful.
  • Talking about aspirations and motivation.

You need to learn how to do this. (Many UK students have to learn it for the first time at university too) and we can help you:

Typical mistakes and questions

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com
  • Do I talk in the present or past?
  • How do I talk about myself? Do I use I?
  • Words that have similar but not the same meaning and words that spell checker won’t pick up, but are incorrect in context.
  • American spellings.
  • Using too many words to describe something.

Help to improve your written & spoken language

Sentence structure & spelling tips

Academic writing – phrase bank
http://www.phrasebank.manchester.ac.uk/

Support for academic writing, speaking & grammar
https://www.languagecentre.manchester.ac.uk/study-english/our-courses/insessional-academic-english-support/insessional-english-courses/

If you are an exchange student …
https://www.languagecentre.manchester.ac.uk/study-english/our-courses/english-for-visiting-and-exchange-students/

The international society run events & socials but also have classes for improving your English. http://internationalsociety.org.uk/classes/

On the fourth Friday of each month, @WhitworthArt  holds an English Corner from 10.30am–12pm. These are monthly conversation classes for people who are learning to speak English. Free and open to all.

Support for your applications and interviews

You really need to be actively using English in a variety of settings you gain the vocabulary and fluency you will need for job applications and interviews.

The Careers Service offers help with applications and interviews. We can help you to describe your skills effectively but we cannot write your CV for you. Talk to us to discuss your needs and how we can help you.  http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/services/

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Congratulations to newly completed Masters students! You can continue to use the Careers Service for 2 years after the end of your degree, including CareersLink which advertises job vacancies.

Your CareersLink student account will be automatically converted into a graduate account. Any data and alerts you have set up in your student account will automatically be transferred.

If your student CareersLink account still works

  1. Change your preferred contact email in MyManchester to a non-University email address.
  2. Carry on using the ‘Current student’ log in.

When the ‘current student’ log in stops working you will know your account has been changed to ‘graduate’.  This happens on different dates for different degree courses but is likely to be before the end of November.

To access your graduate CareersLink account

  1. If you no longer have access to your student email you need to tell us a new contact email address. Email the support team on careerslink@manchester.ac.uk quoting your student username or ID number and telling us which email address you want to use.
  2. Reset your password the first time you use the alumni account. Your username remains the same (8 digit combination of letters and numbers used for all University IT systems.)
  3. If you do not receive your password reset email (check your spam folder) or have any other problems email careerslink@manchester.ac.uk
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It’s obviously not good to make silly spelling mistakes like saying “I farted” instead of “I started”.  But the realms of not ok go much further…

Don’t tell people that you don’t have skills in ….

The amount of applications I have seen where an applicant painstakingly tells me why not to employ them is staggering.  If you are applying to a job where you have a good amount of the skills listed then you do not need to mention the ones you don’t have, certainly don’t tell me that you don’t have them.

Perhaps you don’t have the skills at the required level or have only observed or learned about them?  You can talk about that, but do it positively, tell me what you have observed and what you learned.

If you have learned a similar skill such as using Excel or SPSS and the company wants a different statistical package, you can demonstrate you have learned something similar to a good standard and that you will be able to pick up this new skill easily.

Don’t be disparaging about other companies as a reason for wanting to work for this company

We often say that in order to say why you want to work for a company you need to be aware of their competitors, how this company is different and therefore attractive to you.  This does not mean listing the reasons why other companies are rubbish in your opinion!

Don’t say bad things about the company you worked for last – be discrete no matter how bad it was.

Most people have worked somewhere and it was not to their taste!  Maybe you didn’t like the staff, your boss, the atmosphere, the clients or just the work.  This is not something to mention on your application or really even at interview.

You still will have learned something from the experience, skills, knowledge and even the knowledge that it was not for you.  So if asked about that job, talk about the positives or how it helped you realise your career direction or strengths lay in a different direction.

Don’t tell me on your CV that you were sacked and the reasons why.

You may feel a job where you were fired, or let go stands out like a sore thumb, but no one else knows this.  Maybe you only worked there for a short time so you think it might look odd, but people leave jobs after a short time for lots of reasons.

If you only worked for a few weeks and gained very little from it – you could choose to exclude it. If you worked for a while and feel it’s still useful on your CV then be discrete – talk about the skills and positives.

Humour and opinions.

A job application is not really the place to be making jokes or humorous observations unless asked to do so.   What you think is funny may just fall flat and you may not be taken seriously or worse be seen as inappropriate.

Most companies would like you to share their ethos and values so its natural that you will want to demonstrate this.  Just be careful that strongly held opinions show you in the right light

Photos, date of birth, gender , marital status, are all a no on UK CVs

But in other countries them may be required so you do need to check.

…….Oh and finally,  try not to get the name of the organisation you are applying to wrong!

The dangers of reusing a cover letter or a personal statement on a CV!

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Written by Noeleen Jones, International Careers Consultant

I was asked recently by a colleague to have a look at the Job Search FAQ I produced a couple of years ago and to update this.  I have read through and updated the frequently asked questions that all careers advisers/consultants who work with international students get. Here are my answers to these questions.

  1. How easy is it to get a job in the UK? 

Getting a job is competitive in the UK at internship and graduate level in particular for international students. However if you start you job search early enough and expand your experience it is possible.  If you are looking to stay in the UK after graduation then you need to understand your visa options and how they affect you. The more you understand about your visa options the more empowered you are when being questioned by potential employers especially those interested in hiring you but with little knowledge of the visa process. You can find out everything you need to know regarding visas and working in the UK after study by going to the Careers Service website at: www.manchester.ac.uk/careers/international

UKCISA https://www.ukcisa.org.uk/Information–Advice/Working/Working-after-studies  is a great site for specifically for international students and explains the various visa rules clearly.

In addition the UK Government website has more information https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/work-visas

The students that succeed in getting jobs in the UK work just as hard on their job search strategy as they do their degree and learn to balance their priorities.

Successful students do the following:

  • Start their job search early – Undergraduates when they arrive in year 1 and postgraduates as soon as they arrive in September.
  • Attend employer events, networking sessions, skills sessions and open evenings on campus and in the employer offices
  • Engage with employers at events and on campus, ask questions about the recruitment process, what they are looking for in candidates and ask for business cards,
  • Get additional experience through internships, part-time work, volunteering and insight weeks
  • Join relevant industry clubs such as the marketing club, business club, engineering club
  • Attend fairs and prepare for the fairs through researching the employers attending
  • Engage with their careers service to ensure their CV and applications demonstrate their skills and experience effectively
  • Attend careers events on campus such as CV sessions, skills workshops and psychometric test sessions
  • Attend alumni events on campus including “Meet the Professionals” series
  • Research thoroughly their sector and the companies they want to work with and ensure they are on the sponsor register
  • Reach out to alumni working in those organisations of interest online and at events
  1. How likely is it that I will get sponsored?

It depends on your job hunting strategy? The earlier you start your job search the better your chances are at getting a job offer and being sponsored. Be informed about your visa options and engage with your careers service for advice and guidance.

With regards to engaging with employers don’t start with the question “do you sponsor visas?” as this question is usually received negatively and employers get the impression you are just looking for a visa.  Your approach to employers is important as first impressions count. Research the company beforehand and have some good questions ready for example: about their recruitment processes, what they are looking for and if there is something they are working on how you as a graduate can get involved. It is more likely that you would get sponsored by a large multinational than by a small to medium sized company but there are many different firms who sponsor. For the latest list of Tier 2 and Tier 5 sponsors see here: Register of Licensed Sponsors 

  1. At what stage do I tell companies that I need to be sponsored for a visa?

This will depend on you and how risk averse you are. It also depends on what information you have researched on the company. If a company is not on the sponsor register then they are unlikely to sponsor you but it is not impossible as many small to medium companies have become sponsors based on excellent candidates. If a company is on the sponsor register they are more likely but not guaranteed to sponsor international student. Some organisations are only on the sponsor register to hire experienced professionals but you won’t know this until you apply. If an organisation asks on you are “eligible to work in the UK “or “if you have the right to work in the UK” the answer is No. The company needs this information if they are to sponsor you, but of course some companies use this as a rejection tool. Some companies are put off by becoming sponsors as they feel it will be too much work this is where your knowledge of the visa system can work in your favour. A conversation and a referral to an immigration lawyer can put them at ease.

Most students will be upfront on their application and cover letter. If the company asks your eligibility you must be truthful. Other students will go through the process of recruitment and take the risk at the end when the question is asked at interview or offer stage. Both approaches have their own advantages and disadvantages.

To see an example of a cover letter that includes discussing your visa requirements see our Starting points guide area http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/services/downloads/startingpointseriesofhandouts/ and look for Covering Letter Guide.

  1. Who sponsors international students?

To see who sponsors refer to the sponsor register. This is continually updated and has over 29,750 employers listed. It is a PDF so can be navigated holding down the “ctrl” button and “F” key together to give you a search bar at the top right of the document. To see the latest document follow the link Register of Licensed Sponsors 

  1. Which career sector is more likely to sponsor me?

I have put together a list of some of the sectors I believe are happy to sponsor international student applicants for graduate roles. This is provided in good faith, but do check with the organisations themselves to confirm their position and ensure they are on the Sponsor Register.

  • Banks/Finance
  • Consulting
  • IT
  • Engineering/Manufacturing
  • Scientific
  1. Can I get some UK experience and then go home?

All work experience is important to employers and if your intention is to go home but get a little experience first then Tier 5 could be a valid option for you.  Tier 5 visas are available through particular agencies who act as the visa sponsors so that your employer does not have to sponsor your visa or be on the sponsor register which gives you far more options in terms of potential employers.

Tier 5 Temporary Worker (Government Authorised Exchange) is intended to give university students the chance to gain work experience related to their course before they return home. You can find more details on the UKCISA website and the university careers webpages http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/international/ukworkafterstudy/tier5/

Each agency has different criteria for sponsoring under Tier 5 so read their conditions thoroughly before applying but most follow these rules:

  • The role must not be for longer than 12 months (BUNAC this is 6 months)
  • The work must be related to the graduate’s course of study
  • The role must be supernumerary (outside regular staffing requirements)
  • The internship must be paid at least National Minimum Wage and be in line with all applicable employment legislation
  • The work must be at a skill level of NVQ Level 3 or above

When your tier 5 is up you must leave the country and apply for a new visa from outside the UK, so this is only for graduates looking for a short period of work in the UK. Remember you must consult with an immigration lawyer when applying for a visa the Right to Appeal no longer exists so you only get one chance to get your application right!

  1. Where can I find Tier 5 schemes and sponsors?

There are over 70 schemes under Tier 5 Temporary Worker. Tier 5 sponsors are listed alongside Tier 2 sponsors in the Sponsor Register or you can find a list of all the current Tier 5 schemes and sponsors on the UK Visa and Immigration website.

  1. Can I work during the summer?

Gaining work experience whilst you study through a part-time job, vacation placement, volunteering or internship will help you develop skills to add to your CV. UK and international employers value the range of transferable skills and commercial awareness which you can gain through work experience in addition to academic qualifications.

If you are an undergraduate student the Summer Vacation is part of your vacation period and under your Tier 4 visa you can work full time. You can also work full time during Christmas and Easter.

If you are a Postgraduate student the Summer Vacation is considered your term time and therefore you can’t work full time. You can however still volunteer and work part-time for up to 20 hours per week during this period. Your vacation time for full time work only includes Christmas and Easter vacation periods.

  1. Can I get part-time work in the UK which is related to my future career?

Part-time work can include work experience, volunteering and a part-time job. Employers are increasingly looking for students who have diversified their CV’s. They aren’t interested in hiring students who devoted all their time to study even though your final degree result is important. They want you to develop soft skills such as leadership, team work, communication, interpersonal skills and many more which can be done in the workplace.

Your work experience can be in your field of interest but you have to be diligent to find this and ensure there are opportunities in this field where you are studying as commuting long distances for a part-time job may affect your studies. All work experience is held in high regard by employers regardless of industry or location.

It is down to you to communicate effectively to employers what it is you want them to know about you. If you are applying for a job don’t list what you did during your part-time job in a hotel as a list of tasks be more creative and think of this as an opportunity to market your skills effectively to employers through quantifiable key achievements. Employers do not want to see a list of tasks on your CV for example “answered email, answered phone, cash handling” as these tell an employer nothing about your abilities or skills, but if you stated “worked as part of a diverse team of 15 people across 2 departments” then an employer would gain a greater insight into your abilities.

  1. What should I do if I am coming to the end of my degree/masters and I haven’t found a job?

If you are coming to the end of your programme then you must consider your options including that of going home to start your career. If an international career is important to you then it is not essential that this happen at the start of your career. Consider looking at international organisations in your home country and starting your career there. Working in a company for at least 2 years, gaining experience, building a professional reputation, a strong professional network and skillset can put you in a strong position to move internally with the company to an international office. Having the time to develop professionally and to develop your skills and language can help broaden your career prospects and improve your career opportunities.

It is a smart move to have a Plan B. C. D……. and so on as it is a very competitive market out there. In addition considering other locations for your career after university can broaden your career prospects. Consider your languages and what countries you can work in as a result, as their visa requirements may be different to the UK. Do not rely on the UK graduate market for your first job after your degree you must have additional options in order to give yourself a good chance of getting a job. If you are struggling to find a job speak to your careers service as they may be able to offer help and insight into your job search.

  1. Can I work for myself?

Under a Tier 4 student visa you are not permitted to work for yourself or freelance. This is where a company may state they are hiring your services and instead of a salary or pay you invoice/bill them for your time. Freelancing could lead to the cancellation of your Tier 4 student visa.

If you have a very good business idea or aspire to work for yourself after graduation you could consider a Tier 1 Graduate Entrepreneur Visa. You can find information about this visa on the University website http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/international/ukworkafterstudy/gradentrepreneur/

In addition there is the Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa and again information on this can be found on the careers service website http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/international/ukworkafterstudy/othervisasandancestry/

Good luck!

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When you’re applying for quite a few jobs that ask for a CV, it’s tempting to send the same CV to each. It saves time and the CV describes you, that must be good enough, right?

Wrong!

You have your ingredients of skills, experiences and attributes, but you need to combine them in the right proportions and describe them in the right way in order to meet the shortlisters requirements.

Cake please!

Imagine your ingredients are eggs, flour and butter and you combine them to make a delicious quiche. The problem is the shortlister asked for a cake. You might have the best quiche in the world, but if a cake was what was required it was a waste of your time and ingredients!

You need to adapt your CV for every new application. Each shortlister has a specific shopping list of requirements, you need to make sure you cover each one in your CV in the right proportions and order – the most important ones should have more space and appear higher in the CV.

It’s also a good idea to use the same keywords from the job description in your CV. It makes it easier for the shortlister to tick each item off their list.

You are more likely to be shortlisted if you apply for a small number of jobs properly rather than 100 jobs using the same CV.

Think specialist cake, not batch-baked quiche!

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When you are planning to apply for a graduate scheme or internship at a big organisation it is tempting to try and get all your ducks in a row before taking the plunge and registering on the company’s website. I often see students who want to get their CV checked or practice interview technique so they are ready for an application but they haven’t actually checked what the company wants.

The problem with this approach is that you might waste valuable time. This year we are seeing more organisations than ever make an application form or CV one of the later stages of the application. Instead they often kick off with tests – Situational Judgement Tests are popular, some ask you to complete ability tests such as numerical, verbal or logical reasoning as well or instead. Some will ask you to take a game-based assessment. Other companies make a video interview the first stage, (for others this stage comes second after passing the tests).

Often you are only able to submit a full application after passing tests and video interview, I have even come across one or two which have progressed candidates all the way to an assessment centre without requiring any application documents at all.

There are still organisations out there for who the application process for graduate schemes and internships begins with a traditional application form or CV and cover letter. In short – you cannot know until you register and begin the process.

So my recommendation is if you find a graduate scheme or internship that interests you register as soon as possible. Don’t second-guess what will come, but be prepared to be agile! Our website has loads of help for different stages of the application process once you know what you are facing

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Written by Kim Bailey, Careers Consultant

Haven’t studied Law but considering a legal career? Firstly you are NOT at a disadvantage! Legal careers are open to all degree subjects, and law firms value a diversity of thinking.

Secondly you need to have a good hard think about the question why you are interested in the Law? Would you like being a solicitor or a barrister? If you don’t know the answers to these questions yet it’s time to get down to some research…

  1. To begin with, useful resources to check out are https://www.lawcareers.net/Starting-Out and our Law for Non-Law Students Guide http://www.careers.manchester.ac.uk/whichcareer/law/
  1. Start talking to people who work in the profession. Most people will say ‘but I don’t know any lawyers.’ Don’t panic! There are lots of ways to get in touch with solicitors and barristers:
  • Come to the Law Fair on Tuesday 13 November, and check CareersLink for other legal events! Meet recruiters to find out what they look for in their applicants and learn about the different types of firms. 
  • Log onto the Manchester Network. On here you can connect with and ask over 3,000 alumni questions about their jobs, and ask for advice. Some are even offering work shadowing or work experience. Don’t be shy, our alumni have signed up to help you and offer their support!
  • Build a LinkedIn account to start connecting with people. Once you have a profile, a good place to start is searching for the University of Manchester’s page and clicking on ‘See Alumni’. You can even find people who studied your degree and are now qualified lawyers!

Ask people you meet and connect with about their pathway to law, what work experience would be useful for you to undertake, and about the rewards and challenges of their jobs.

  1. Start looking for work experience
  • Volunteering is a fantastic way to start building experience. Start with the Volunteer Hub. Click on advanced search and either look to develop the skills you need to be a lawyer, or look by area of interest to help people in your local community, many of whom are vulnerable and need support.
  • Look for a few days, or a week’s work experience. Send off a tailored CV and covering letter to local, high street firms to ask for work experience. Be persistent and follow up your emails with a call a week or two later!
  • Once you’ve built up some experience (not forgetting valuable part time jobs, student societies, and other life experience), you can apply for more formal work experience, such as vacation schemes (solicitors) and mini pupillages (barristers).

After working through steps 1-3, if you’re sure that the Law is the right path for you, you currently need to undertake a one year Graduate Diploma in Law (GDL), followed by either a one year Legal Practice Course (LPC) or the Bar professional Training Course (BPTC). This can either be self-funded (there are some scholarships and bursaries available at the institutions who offer the courses) or sponsored by employers up front, although the latter is very competitive. During and after the courses you can continue to apply for vacation schemes, training contracts (on the job training for solicitors) and pupillages (training for barristers).

However, the route to qualifying as a solicitor is changing, and the current courses will be phased out, and replaced by the Solicitor’s Qualifying Examination (SQE), from no earlier than 2020. If you start the GDL before the SQE is launched, you can still complete your training on the current route, as the two routes will run concurrently until the ‘old’ route is phased out. You may want to discuss this with the firms you meet on campus.

It’s a competitive career path which is in the midst of further changes, but with the right determination, perseverance and motivation it can be an extremely rewarding one.

Sign up for the Law Fair on Tuesday 13 November, 12.30 – 4pm at Manchester Central and visit the event’s Facebook page to keep up to date with what will be happening at the fair.

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