Becoming a great candidate: tips for the job search

by Amy Oloo

It is no secret that finding a great professional role can be difficult, especially in cases where entry level applicants are asked to demonstrate an unrealistic level of experience. So, what are some of the things I have been doing to try and succeed in my career journey?

The challenges!

The graduate jobs market is very competitive, and the situation is even more complicated for international students hoping to get a tier 2 visa sponsorship. Finding a willing sponsor for a field in the humanities can be challenging.

I am no stranger to this tension. I am a current LLM student in Diplomacy and International Law, and I hope to one day work at an international organization as an advocate for human rights, peace and security issues. In order to follow such a career path, I would have to first establish myself as a program officer at such an organisation.

Unfortunately, finding a permanent placement right after my undergraduate degree has not been easy, given the competitiveness.

So, what are my tips for job seeking?

Take an advanced level qualification

I’ve found that getting academic qualifications in the area of my career goals is an incredibly important step. By following this step, I’m set up as someone that has knowledge in my subject of interest.

This was one of the reasons I decided to pursue an LLM at Lancaster. My course has been helpful in providing me with theory in this subject, while the guest professionals that have been invited to speak have been useful in giving me a snapshot of the practical aspects of the career.

I am fortunate enough to say that my knowledge, as well as my capacity for analytical and legal research has increased as a result of my course.

I have no doubts that these skills will be applicable to the opportunities I am applying for.

Look for ways to gain relevant experience

I have taken on different internships and consultancies in human rights, global governance, peace and development with the hopes of positioning myself as a capable professional in international affairs. This included an internship at UNESCO.

More recently, I have been acting as a blog contributor for different organizations and have been published by companies such as the Jakarta Post. I’ve learned that writing on the themes of your career path can be really helpful in building your portfolio and demonstrating your knowledge in the area.

These work experiences have also allowed me to build a great network, and my former colleagues have been happy to give me advice and recommend me for other opportunities.

Use the expert resources that are available

On top of this, Lancaster University has remained a really great resource for the job hunting journey. Firstly, the university’s career office offers various workshops on a weekly basis. Throughout the year, there have been workshops on building your linked in profile, networking, acing an interview, and other similar topics.

In addition to this, the career’s website provides automated services that allow you to build your resume and cover letter, as well as practice for different types of interviews. There is also the option of booking 1-1 appointments with the career office to get feedback on CVs, and cover letters, and career prospects.

I have to admit that I’ve learned how to navigate my career journey a lot better because of these services.

On top of this, the university has a job database where students can search for jobs and internships that can help build your CV. As a matter of fact, through the Lancaster careers page, I was lucky enough to find out about websites that are targeted at helping international students find tier 2 visa sponsorship.

It is important to note that aside from advertising professional roles, the university also offers part-time jobs that can contribute towards work experience all while earning some extra money.

All in all, I have found that while finding a good, well matched job opportunity is not always easy, there are many ways to get prepared and stand out as a good candidate for eventual success. Finding and exploring these routes remains the best bet at gaining a comparative advantage.


Amy is studying LLM in Diplomacy and International Law by distance learning at Lancaster University.

Lancaster University employs students to create authentic content from a student perspective. All views expressed in this article are those of the students, and do not necessarily reflect the views or position of Lancaster University.