Get a UK Job: A Timeline for International Students

Getting to know a new labour market and how to navigate it can be difficult! That’s why we’ve put together this handy timeline for international students looking to find a job in the UK.

Start Early

For those doing a one-year degree in the UK landing a local job and finishing your degree at the same time can be an extremely demanding task. Also, although the new “graduate route” post-study work option has opened up opportunities for students graduating from summer this year to stay and work (or look for work) for 2 years (3 if you have a PhD), many of you may be wanting to stay longer, but may not know how you can do this.

If that’s the case, be aware that in sectors like finance, consulting, and engineering large employers offering “graduate schemes” are usually the most willing to sponsor visas beyond the post-study work period.  Schemes run by these employers open for applications a year in advance, and usually welcome students from all academic backgrounds, so you may be able to join a sector that interests you even if it isn’t directly relevant to your degree.

Graduate Scheme Timeline

As UK recruitment cycles, application processes and requirements might all differ from those in your home country, we have prepared the following timeline so you can plan your time as a student here effectively:


  • Understand what you want to do and what you can do with your degree.
  • Narrow down which roles and employers you are interested in, through self-reflection and research
  • Audit your experience and summarise the key skills you have acquired over the past 3-5 years, in order to help you understand where your strengths lie, and what job roles might suit you.
  • Find out what skills, knowledge and experience your potential employers are looking for by looking at job profiles and previous job descriptions.
  • If you are unsure about your career direction, or have any other career-related question, ask us on Live Chat. We can often help right away, if not you may be offered an appointment to speak with an adviser.



  • Check which graduate scheme applications are open – many start around this time. Look on Student Circus and Bright Network. (Please note only Student Circus check their jobs and schemes are sponsored so when using any other platform, always contact HR to check they are open to hiring you under the graduate route or through sponsorship).
  • Start listing the applications you have submitted, and are planning to submit.

October –  January

  • Attend Careers Service career fairs and events, and talk to employers to understand what they are looking for
  • Prepare for interviews and assessment centres by checking our online resources, attending events and, when you have an interview confirmed,  booking a practice interview with us via Live Chat.


  • Most graduate scheme deadlines have passed by now but you may find some with later deadlines or rolling recruitment – check Student Circus and Bright Network.

Mid-December – May

  • Assessment centres and interviews take place for graduate schemes.

April – June

  • Check to see if any early-closing graduate schemes have now reopened due to posts not being filled; normally you cannot apply more than once in the same year so check with HR if you wish to reapply.
  • Don’t limit yourself to graduate schemes. Graduate jobs can be sponsored, or are open to you through the graduate route, and are available all year round. Apply by using sector specific job boards – but if you want sponsorship straight away, unless using Student Circus, do check with HR they will accept your application first. Otherwise, simply make clear in your application that you are eligible to work under the graduate route.  Remember, an employer might be willing to sponsor you later, at the end of your time on the graduate route.


  • This is a quiet month, but it is a perfect time to focus on your graduation projects and dissertation.
  • You should still be able to find graduate jobs to apply to.

August – September

  • Graduate schemes start around now.
  • Speak to us on Live Chat if you think you need direction or an action plan. If we can’t help right away, we will book you an appointment to speak with a Careers Adviser.

Additional Advice

Before even applying for graduate schemes though, getting an internship or volunteering will help you when it comes to making your applications and conducting interviews, as employers will be looking for relevant experience and motivation when deciding who to hire.

Don’t forget researching the hidden job market either, as many jobs are not actually advertised! Check our resource on networking for more information on this.

Here at the Careers Service we have also prepared lots of useful resources to help you navigate the UK job market, such as our online course – Support for International Students Pathway, so make sure to look at that to help you make the best applications you can to the right employers in the UK.

If you would like to know more about your visa options, please check intro talk on your visa options. Also keep an eye on the University of Bristol Student Visa Service.

Inline illustration by Mohamed Hassan on Pixabay

Author: Stella Wang, Careers Support Officer (International) 2021