Careers and Employability Service
Services for current students

I need help with my applications

Close up view of a man searching on a laptop and making notes in a notebook


The application process is your opportunity to showcase your skills and suitability to an employer. This can often seem like a daunting prospect especially if English is not your first language. 

Whether you're struggling to write your CV, feel uneasy about interviews or aren't sure how to answer questions in an application we can help.

Your next steps

For more support on the application process such as help with your CV, interviews and more.

Visit our making applications pages

I want to thank Harriet Akehurst as she helped me build a perfect CV from scratch for my career in research. The Careers team is very professional and made me feel comfortable as an international student.
Jahnavi Ahuja, Cancer Immunology and Biotechnology (2023)

I'm applying for jobs but I'm not getting shortlisted?

If you are applying for many jobs but not getting invited to the next stage, you could benefit from support with your CV or applications. Ideally try to gain feedback on why your application was rejected if you can.

Tailor your application

The most important element of making applications is to tailor what you write to the requirements of the job. If you fail to provide evidence to demonstrate your key skills or experiences, you could be overlooked by employers and face rejections. You also need to keep your language positive and try to eliminate spelling and grammatical errors.

Ask for help

We offer support with applications in a number of ways:


What do UK employers look for in new recruits?

UK employers are very interested in your wider skill set rather than just your university grades. In fact, most employers will accept average grades from graduates who have enhanced their skill set through taking up a range of experiences in the UK.

During an application you might be asked to demonstrate your communication skills, teamwork examples or even a time when you used your initiative. Use experiences from your time at Nottingham to help you stand out as well as academic examples. Employers are looking for a well-rounded candidate so work experience or volunteering will enhance your applications. 


The application form asks me if I have the right to work in the UK, how should I answer?

How you answer this question depends on the way the question is worded.

If the employer asks,

Do you have the right to work…
You should be able to answer “yes”. If you are currently studying on a student visa it is likely you are allowed to work full time out of term time and part time in term time (up to 20 hours per week).

However, some applications will ask 

Do you have the permanent right to work…
In this case you’d need to answer “no”. Ideally you would have the chance to add in more information to explain your potential working rights under the graduate route visa, but not every application will allow you to do this.


Advice from the experts

AGCAS is the expert membership organisation for higher education student career development and graduate employment professionals. They provided the following advice on this topic:

The application form asks me if I have the right to work in the UK, how should I answer? Select ‘Yes’, as selecting ‘No’ often means your application will not go any further. Then add a supporting statement like the one below, in the notes/further information box:

“I am eligible to work in the UK for a two-year period (insert three years if you are a PhD student) once my studies end if I apply to the Graduate visa, which does not require employer sponsorship. I am also eligible to apply for permission to work under the Skilled Worker visa upon receipt of a qualifying job offer from a sponsoring employer. You can access government guidance on these routes here. Recruiting International Graduates: A Guide for Employers, endorsed by the Institute of Student Employers*

AGCAS answer – May 2021

If you still have questions about your right to work in the UK or any other visa and immigration queries, contact the university's Visa and Immigration team


How do I present my non-UK qualifications to employers?

  • Some employers will provide information about how to present non-UK qualifications on their recruitment pages, so check their websites first. For example, KPMG provide an information page for international students. 
  • It may also be worth contacting an employer's human resources department for advice. Usually, employers will ask you to state your qualifications in their current format that is a GPA percentage score or a numeric score. They would usually convert this to a UK equivalent grade.
  • In some cases, it might be useful to state your overseas qualifications and then the UK equivalency in brackets (if you know this).

If you are asked to provide equivalencies for your qualifications the following are useful:

  • The UCAS website has standard comparisons for non-A Level qualifications such as International Baccalaureate.
  • If you can't find what you're looking for on the UCAS website, UK ENIC may be able to help you to evidence the level of your overseas qualifications for employment. They may charge a fee for this service.
  • Potential employers might be unfamiliar with your previous institution and qualification, so you could highlight specific merits of these (ranking positions, for instance).
  • If you are a postgraduate and need to show the equivalent degree classification of your overseas qualifications, you can use this equivalency table provided by the UK government. 

What level of English do employers expect?

UK employers expect a good standard of written and verbal English. If you are not a native speaker, try to improve your English during your time in the UK to maximise your chances of finding graduate employment.

Getting involved in volunteering or part time work is a great way to improve your communication skills and to demonstrate to employers that you can communicate effectively in English. Continue to take advantage of English language classes available through your time at university. You may also want to sign up for British Council courses to improve your English language in the work place.


Careers and Employability Service

University of Nottingham
Portland Building, Level D
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 3680
fax: +44 (0) 115 951 3679