Career in UK

Home to the sixth largest economy in the world and various international business hubs, the UK is the perfect place for ambitious graduates to start their careers. Discover how to join the 32 million people currently working here

The country’s unemployment rate currently stands at a relatively low 4%, and the graduate labour market remains robust and by some measures is as strong as it has been for some time. Competition for graduate jobs is fierce but candidates with the right qualifications, skills and experience stand a good chance of employment.

Language skills are increasingly important, making many foreign nationals desirable candidates. The UK has many international communities, so as a foreign worker you’ll be in good company.

With the UK’s diverse job sectors, good working conditions and numerous employment opportunities, it’s no surprise that it’s a popular destination for international graduates wanting to kick start their careers.

Jobs in the UK

The UK is highly globalised, which means that the job market is competitive. Major industries in the UK include:

    1. accounting, banking and finance
    2. education
    3. engineering
    4. healthcare
    5. marketing
    6. recruitment and HR.


The services sector dominates the UK economy with banking, insurance and business services all key drivers of the country’s growth. Other important industries include metals, chemicals, aerospace, shipbuilding, motor vehicles, food processing, textiles and clothing, design, the arts and electronic and communications equipment.

In recent years there has been a decline in the manufacturing industry, although it’s important to note that this sector still employs a large number of workers.

Graduate schemes are available at many of the UK’s large and multinational companies, in sectors such as:

    1. finance
    2. HR
    3. marketing
    4. retail
    5. sales


To find out more, see graduate schemes.

According to The Guardian UK 300 2019/20, the most popular graduate employers include Google, Cancer Research UK, Amazon, MI6 and GlaxoSmithKline.

More information on particular industries can be found in our job sectors.

Look for job vacancies at:

    1. graduate job search – for the latest graduate schemes, placements and jobs
    2. Guardian Jobs – national news site advertising UK and international jobs
    3. Indeed – job site listing vacancies throughout the UK
    4. Reed – lists vacancies in a range of sectors throughout the UK.


Skills shortages

There are currently a number of shortage occupations, including:

    1. Business services – analysts, market researchers, HR officers
    2. Construction – surveyors, planners and project managers
    3. Education – primary and secondary school teachers (particularly maths teachers)
    4. Engineering – electrical, mechanical and chemical engineers, civil engineers and product and process engineers
    5. Healthcare – nurses, medical radiographers and paediatricians
    6. Hospitality – baristas, chefs
    7. IT – cyber security analysts, SEO marketers, software developers and systems engineers
    8. Social care – counsellors, social workers.


How to get a job in UK ?

In the UK you can apply for most jobs online by sending a short CV and cover letter or by filling out an application form. Where possible, CVs should be no longer than two sides of A4 and cover letters no more than a page. Learn more about writing CVs and cover letters.

Networking is important and many vacancies are filled through word of mouth. Use any pre-existing UK contacts to make enquiries about vacancies and let them know that you’re actively looking for work in the country.

Speculative applications are also welcome and these can be useful when applying to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as they don’t always advertise vacancies.

Apply for work as early as possible, as many companies have long recruitment processes. Apply in your home country and make the move once you have secured a position.

Due to a high turnover of staff, the hospitality and retail industries often recruit all year round. The creative arts and design sector often recruits in London, while marketing and PR is thriving in cities such as Birmingham and Manchester.

If you’re shortlisted for a job you may have to attend a series of interviews. These could be one-to-one interviews with your potential line manager or panel interviews with managers and HR personnel. Larger companies and graduate schemes often use a mix of psychometric testing, assessment centres and interviews to select successful candidates.


To get a foot in the door of an organisation, many students in the UK look for relevant work experience. Work experience opportunities are available in almost every sector and will vary in length, depending on the organisation. In some cases a placement will be as short as one day; others may last for several months and lead to a permanent position.

Remember that all work experience is valuable and many students are successful in securing a place for several months.

Your university’s international office can help you find and apply for work experience and internships.