NTU StudentsUniversity Journey

Nail a job hunt in UK as an international graduate

After graduation you might start your first job hunt in UK. Here are useful tips which will help you in your job search, especially when english is not your first language.


 1. Use LinkedIn   

Linkedin is essential for personal and professional branding. Over 95% of recruiters use LinkedIn so if you don’t have a profile you will more than likely miss out on potential opportunities. Contact recruiters, write posts, articles and stand out from the crowd. I have been headhunted twice thanks to LinkedIn. Writing articles have boosted my profile views enormously and many other linguists have requested to connect with me. LinkedIn allows you to display your skills, recommendations and your work, all which go in your favour when searching for a job.


2. Don’t expect to find your dream job straight away

Your first job may be your dream job or it may not be. It may take a few jobs for you to find something you love with languages. The first few years after graduation is a chance for you to pick up new skills which you can combine with the languages you have learnt and work out what you do and don’t like doing. Be honest to yourself which in turn will allow you to discover what you really want to do with your language skills.

3. If you don’t know what you want to do don’t worry
Very few foreign language graduates know what they want to do after university. At the beginning of your career it is more like trial and error. You need to try things, reflect upon what you enjoyed and didn’t enjoy about certain roles and then look for roles containing the aspects you enjoyed. As time passes you will start to understand exactly what you seek in a job role. 


4. Never stop applying

Even if you have many options in the pipeline you must continue applying for roles as sometimes, they can lead to nothing. Sometimes companies have to advertise for legal reasons even if they have already found somebody. A company may have found somebody who they believe to be more suitable or the job may just no longer be available. Keep applying as sometimes everything goes to pot and time cannot be wasted waiting around for companies to get back in touch.  

5. Don’t believe everything recruiters tell you

During the earlier stages of my career I believed everything recruiters told me. Not all recruiters are bad, the majority are fantastic in fact. However, there have been numerous occasions where I have been lied to. ‘Full Time’ roles have ended up being short term contracts, salaries have ended up being a lot lower than what I was told, language jobs have ended up being non language jobs and I have been misinformed about other aspects of jobs too. Some recruiters may misinform you of certain things hoping you’ll agree for them to forward you to interview in hope of obtaining commission or reaching targets. 

6. Always go to interview with lots of questions

Asking many questions shows your interest in the role and shows the recruiter how well you have interpreted the job description. E.g  for sales – Who are your competitors? Is your price competitive? What are your expected growth rates?  Which countries do you trade with? What happens when parcels get stuck in customs? How has the company prepared for Brexit? Remember that the employer is interviewing you, but you are also interviewing them. Asking questions shows your keenness and reflects your understanding of the job role.

7. Always know your salary and how many interview stages there are

Many job adverts will say competitive salary, negotiable salary or won’t give a salary at all. Some companies are offended when asking about the salary; however, you need to make sure that the salary matches your qualifications and skillset, don’t allow yourself to be undervalued. Regarding interview stages some companies ask you to complete three or four which is quite excessive, time consuming and costly. For this reason, you need to ask prior to agreeing to going to the first interview. 


8. Put a value on yourself. How much are you worth?

Be realistic during your job hunt. You have spent two years at college/6th form and another four at university including a year abroad. That equates to six years of more studying compared to somebody who left school at sixteen. You may also have some work experience, completed internships and courses. Don’t undersell yourself, but don’t expect too much. I would say a fair starting salary for a graduate in languages is £19,000/20,000 in Nottingham. However, in London and surrounding areas considerably more. 



9. Your languages are at a good enough level for a business environment

Many will tell me that they don’t think their language skills are good enough for a business environment. I have discovered that it’s just a matter of learning new vocabulary. You have spent years speaking, writing, reading, translating, learning grammar and vocabulary, lived abroad, so learning more vocabulary won’t be a problem. Every job role requires different vocabulary, sometimes you may not have even come across the words in English. I have picked up a lot of new vocabulary in English and in the foreign languages since finishing university especially within finance and IT.


10. Never give up!

Being turned down again and again during job hunt can really knock your confidence. You might start to question your self-worth or may even start asking if there is something wrong with you. We all get turned down and some more than others. Don’t let it get you down, but allow it for you to become stronger and even more eager to succeed. Remember that Walt Disney was turned down again and again for not being creative enough.


11. Sell yourself to the recruiter

Before selling yourself to a company you have to convince the recruiter that you are worth hiring before you are put through to interview. You need to come across as confident, highlight your skills, display your eagerness and convince the recruiter to put you forward. 



12. Don’t rule out specific job roles until you’ve tried them

According to my research, credit control and information technology roles dominated in the East Midlands region. I have worked in IT for almost 5 years and currently hold my third IT position. In all three of these situations, I have been able to use my language skills, sometimes less often than I would like. However, my language skills helped me find employment. Credit control did not appeal to me. However, as dull as it sounds, chasing debt wasn’t that bad. My languages kept me occupied all day every day, and there was always something to do.



13. Brainstorm the companies who require the languages you speak

Brainstorm companies who may require the foreign languages you speak and see if they are hiring. Some companies are more obvious than others. For example, companies that may require German could be Adidas, Bosch, Audi, LIDL and there will be many others too. Companies requiring French speakers could include Renault, Louis Vuitton and Moet & Chandon. See if you can find the talent acquisition managers/specialists on LinkedIn, send them a message and see if they are hiring.  


14. Still apply even if you don’t tick all the boxes

Never be scared to apply for roles when you don’t currently match exactly what a company wants. Nobody will tick all the boxes! Companies put their ideal candidate requirements and will often accept candidates who don’t tick all the boxes. When I applied for a role in Credit Control I ticked very few boxes and was taken on purely for my ability to speak French, Spanish and Italian. 


15. Be aware of the soft skills you picked up from university

There are skills you will have picked up from university and may not even realise. These skills can often be transferred to the workplace and for foreign language graduates often include skills such as public speaking, writing, ability to work in an international environment, time management skills, communicative skills and there are many other skills that can be transferred. 



Remember: Know your value!

Remember to know your value, be aware of skills picked up from university, apply for things even if you think that you don’t yet have the skills, stay strong, engage frequently on LinkedIn and never give up!!!!

Emily Nicole Boaler – BA Hons French, Spanish and Italian 2013

Emily is an NTU Alumni Fellow. You can find out more about how to get involved with the Alumni Fellowship Programme here

For more advice from alumni on how to win your interview process click here

Blog Administrator. Currently ran by co-author Emilia Denis. Emilia has studied Fashion Communication and Promotion at NTU between years 2017 and 2020.

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