Work in the West Midlands

The West Midlands is home to many industries seeking to grow and innovate.

Games and AI; Agri-Tech; Life Sciences; Advanced Manufacturing; Creative and Digital; Business, Professional and Financial Services – you name it! Find out how to get work here, utilising the region’s growing transport network to work across the region.

I want to land a graduate job

Steps to help you land a graduate role:

Step 1 - Where to start searching for jobs (using the University to help)

To find local graduate jobs through the University:

  • Careers Connect is an online platform detailing careers events and opportunities, connecting you with live jobs every day. Sign up for alerts from Careers Network.
  • University’s Work Here webpage advertises vacancies at the University which include a diverse range of jobs suitable for recent graduates, e.g. administration, marketing and IT.
  • Virtual Fairs from the Careers Network website link you to representatives from regional organisations of all sizes.
  • Getting to know events connect you to employers offering graduate schemes. These are currently held virtually.

Step 2 - Where to search for jobs (using external sources)

To find local graduate jobs through external sources:

  • Jobs portals allow you to search many jobs within a sector, locally, nationally and internationally. E.g. Jobs.ac.uk (Education), NHS Jobs (Health & Social Care), WMJobs (Public Sector), Gradcracker (STEM careers), RISE Technical (Engineering & Technical roles), Constructionjobs.co.uk, TeacherActive and RecruitmentPanda (Social Care)
  • Recruitment agencies promote vacancies online but also have local offices providing a more personal service. Speak to them about what they have posted. Recruitment agencies such as katie bard, Michael PageHays and Reed cater for graduate level jobs.
  • Specialist agencies enable you to target smaller companies such as sme-graduates.co.uk who offer local graduate jobs within small to medium sized enterprises (up to 249 employees).
  • Starting your own business is also an exciting option. Support for running a business venture or social enterprise can be found through the University (B-Enterprising: Start-Up) and through organisations such as i-SE , UnLtd and School for Social Entrepreneurs
  • Joining a high profile graduate programme for on-the-job graduate work and training to run your own business, can be found at the New Entrepreneurs Foundation. Local graduates have gained places to then build their new businesses in the West Midlands. 
  • If you can’t find the graduate job you want but know what you enjoy, and know how you could contribute to an organisation using your skills and strengths, approach individuals by email with a speculative letter and CV or via LinkedIn.
  • Tips on speculative applications can be found on the Careers Network Speculative Applications webpage.
Some large employers in the West Midlands to approach speculatively are listed on the Partners page via the West Midlands Growth Company website. Other sites providing company info to help make speculative applications include: Best Companies to work for in the West Midlands 202013 fast growing exporters in the West Midlands (Feb 2020)

Step 3 - Stay safe when applying for jobs

In the competitive jobs market that we find ourselves in now, there are many opportunities for unscrupulous individuals and organisations to offer fake or fraudulent vacancies in an attempt to steal money or your identity.

It is very important to be aware of possible scams and pitfalls both online and elsewhere.

Top Tips:

1. Only provide essential personal information

When you submit your CV to a jobs board or recruitment agency, you will need to include your personal details, so an organisation can make contact and invite you for interview. Name, email and phone number are enough, so you can leave out your address. Only include your address if you are applying directly to an individual employer, e.g. for an advertised vacancy. Don't give your home address if you are sending speculative applications to employers.  Finally, never include your national insurance, passport number or bank details.

2. Scam Vacancies - what to look out for

You should be especially cautious if you encounter any of the following:

  • The vacancy advert has poor spelling and grammar or it is one that seems generally unprofessional
  • The vacancy arrives directly into your email account from a source you do not recognise
  • There is no landline telephone number
  • There is a Hotmail, ymail or gmail contact rather than one with the company name
  • You receive a job offer without an interview, or without having met the employer, or after a very basic introduction to the work
  • The job offered is very different to the vacancy advertised
  • The rate of pay is higher than you might expect for the duties listed

Be alert if you are:

  • asked to run errands buying goods for the employer which will be reimbursed with a cheque
  • asked to make payments on their behalf via MoneyGram, Western Union, or PayPoint
  • asked to provide personal details e.g. a copy of your driving licence, passport or bank details without having met the employer or having verified that they have a legitimate need for this information
  • asked to undertake an observation visit or to accompany staff on a day’s work without pay
  • expected to recruit staff and become a team leader in order to progress. This may be promised within an unrealistic period of time 

I want work experience

Steps to help you find work experience:

Step 1 - Where to start searching for work experience opportunities (using the University to help)

Step 2 - Where to start searching for work experience (using external sources)

To find work experience through external West Midlands sources:

  • Forage and Bright Network offer virtual internships.
  • Some recruitment agencies offer work experience. One specialist agency is sme-graduates.co.uk offering local interships and placements in small to medium sized companies.
  • Part time work is also a form of work experience. Approach individual organisations speculatively. For help on making speculative applications visit Careers Network's Speculative application preparation page.
  • Volunteering is another way of gaining experience. Search individual charities, Council sites and community organisations across the region for details and contacts.
  • If you’re struggling to find an organisation to volunteer, check out your local Volunteer Centre Visit the Do-it website or go to Navca.org.uk to find members involved in social action.
  • To approach organisations speculatively use LinkedIn to find companies and access the FAME database to research businesses via findit@bham. Some large employers in the West Midlands are listed on the Careers Inspiration page and via the West Midlands Growth Company website
  • Search other sites providing company info, such as Best CompaniesMidlands’ fastest-growing exporters revealed.

Step 3 - Making an application

Useful tip: When writing your cover letter, always try to find out the name of the recruiting manager if it is not listed, this will help you write to a person rather than to a ‘Sir or Madam’. It demonstrates you went that extra mile. LinkedIn and the organisation’s website are good sources to help find the name and job title of the individual.

Step 4 - Staying SAFE when applying for work experience

In the competitive jobs market that we find ourselves in now, there are many opportunities for unscrupulous individuals and organisations to offer fake or fraudulent volunteering, internship and work experience vacancies in an attempt to steal money or your identity. It is very important to be aware of possible scams and pitfalls both online and elsewhere.

Top Tips:

1. Only provide essential personal information

When you submit your CV to a jobs board or recruitment agency, you will need to include your personal details, so an organisation can make contact and invite you for interview. Name, email and phone number are enough, so you can leave out your address. Only include your address if you are applying directly to an individual employer, e.g. for an advertised vacancy. Don't give your home address if you are sending speculative applications to employers.  Finally, never include your national insurance, passport number or bank details.

2. Scam Vacancies - what to look out for

You should be especially cautious if you encounter any of the following:

  • The vacancy advert has poor spelling and grammar or it is one that seems generally unprofessional
  • The vacancy arrives directly into your email account from a source you do not recognise
  • There is no landline telephone number
  • There is a Hotmail, ymail or gmail contact rather than one with the company name
  • You receive a job offer without an interview, or without having met the employer, or after a very basic introduction to the work
  • The job offered is very different to the vacancy advertised
  • The rate of pay is higher than you might expect for the duties listed

Be alert if you are:

  • asked to run errands buying goods for the employer which will be reimbursed with a cheque
  • asked to make payments on their behalf via MoneyGram, Western Union, or PayPoint
  • asked to provide personal details e.g. a copy of your driving licence, passport or bank details without having met the employer or having verified that they have a legitimate need for this information
  • asked to undertake an observation visit or to accompany staff on a day’s work without pay
  • expected to recruit staff and become a team leader in order to progress. This may be promised within an unrealistic period of time 

I wish to build my knowledge and skills

How to develop your skills and be job ready

  • Join a student society group at the Guild of Students. As an active member you will building professional skills such as leadership, management, communication, organisation, time-management and project management skills. 
  • Start a new student group, at University, founded on your passion, having spotted a gap for a great opportunity.
  • Join Enactus Birmingham and run a social project, receiving leadership training from Enactus UK. Sponsored by large well known recruiters, you will take part in a regional competition, getting recognition and support for your hard efforts to make a difference.
  • Volunteer through the Guild of Students, or with an external organisation, making a difference to get positive results to benefit others in need of support, developing professional skills and socially-driven values.
  • Get learning online gaining business acumen and hard skills via LinkedIn Learning via the intranet. It’s free for you (but not the public, so use it while you can)! Course are very short, so not time-consuming. Learn project management foundations; basic Excel; how to use social media professionally. It’s all there. 
  • Join Bright Network’s Academy to attend skills webinars and online courses to develop job ready skills such as commercial awareness, resilience, networking, LinkedIn profiling. There are talking head videos from professionals that provide tips on CVs, applications too.
  • Get involved in the University’s enterprising activity such B-Enterprising Bootcamp, Impact Challenge, VC Challenge, or set up your own project! Visit the B-Enterprising website for more details. 
  • Start up your own venture. Find out about support on the B Start-Up webpage.
  • Seek a mentor for expert guidance, by joining Careers Network’s mentoring programme. Find out more information on the Careers Network Mentoring homepage.
  • Other local mentoring support websites include One Million Mentors; Mentoring Circle events by Smart Works and Grow Mentoring - a legal sector mentoring initiative which pairs aspiring lawyers with legal professionals.

Ways to expand your social connections

Regardless of the COVID 19 pandemic, you can still network online and build contacts to help find work and build your confidence.

  • Seek a mentor for expert guidance, by joining Careers Network’s mentoring programme. Find out more information on the Careers Network Mentoring homepage.
  • Other local mentoring support websites include One Million Mentors; Mentoring Circle events by Smart Works and Grow Mentoring - a legal sector mentoring initiative which pairs aspiring lawyers with legal professionals.
  • TAG Network Midlands offers lots of free online events for students and graduates to connect with professionals and entrepreneurs in the Midlands.
  • Brummies Networking offer face to face events offered monthly. Informal networking with local and small Birmingham businesses (currently suspended).
  • Chamber of Commerce: Future Faces offers online events for professional development and social networks. Membership is sometimes required.

Gain top tips from local graduates

What will help you progress towards a graduate level job?

Consider the journey not just the destination

I learned to see career as a long-term thing – there will always be set backs (2020 graduate)

Get involved in things from the University and beyond, from other organisations. Go out of your comfort zone. Lots of skills programmes and workshops are advertised by Careers Network

The more you get involved the more you get out of it (2020 graduate)

I just completed the Impact Challenge last week and it was an amazing experience! It has improved my team working skills and it is a great opportunity to put on my CV. (2020 graduate)

Taking part in mock interviews was the most helpful experience. I have a better understanding when it comes to how to conduct myself in an interview situation. (2020 graduate)

Have a positive can do attitude, regardless of the set backs. 

What have I got to lose? That’s the mind-set (2020 graduate)

Approach to career planning? Proactivity, flexibility and open-mindedness

I have become more open-minded. There is no one way of doing things anymore” (2020 graduate)

I’m Using LinkedIn every day – my new Instagram (2021 graduate)

Get a mentor for insights and guidance (UoB mentoring scheme)

[The mentor] was very helpful and gave a very in depth overview of his career and how the masters helped him. [The mentor] also sent over some helpful websites! (2020 graduate)

Videos presenting more ‘mentee’ voices can be found on Career’s Network’s The Mentoring Experience online page

Utilise networks beyond the University, including LinkedIn

"I found a mentoring scheme on LinkedIn. Without my mentor I would not be growing at the rate I am in terms of legal development", (2020 graduate).

Gain top tips from local organisations

Over 99% of all businesses in the UK are SMEs. What's even better is that vacancies are rising within these small to medium sized enterprises. Many seek graduates. Matthew Parry who recently founded SME Graduate Employment Ltd and is a supporting partner of the University’s ‘Transformation West Midlands’ gave his views:

Top tips to get an interview?

  • Tailor your CV and covering letter to the vacancy
  • Check for spelling and grammatical errors. If the person spec requires ‘good attention to detail’, avoid mistakes
  • Transfer your skills and experience so that they match the job description and person specification
  • Send your covering letter and CV in one word document. Sometimes companies are ‘losing’ the CVs or the covering letter due to the volume of applications being received
  • Being specific in the covering letter is a must. Some introductions are just too long and will get discarded.

Why does this matter?

On average I am now receiving c. 300 applications for 1 SME vacancy. I advertise client vacancies on my website, LinkedIN, Instagram and online jobs boards. But despite the high number, sometimes graduate jobs go unfilled because of poor quality applications.  

If you want the job:

  • Remember what you’ve applied to. Sometimes graduates are contacted and it’s clear they can’t remember applying for the role!
  • Generic CVs and covering letters won’t cut it. Be persistent and don’t get downhearted if finding success is hard. Prepare and make time for a strong application. Success will come.

Exclusive employability programmes for recent alumni

UoB Graduate Internships (from August  - Nov 2021) are being offered to graduates who graduated with a bachelors degree in 2020 and 2021. A range of roles are available in different internal departments at the University. Find our more info to apply and register for a graduate account via careers connect to view the vacancies.   

Stand Out is delivered by Uprising (a West Midlands employability and leadership skills provider). This free one month online work programme also offers a year of professional one to one mentoring. It’s designed for unemployed graduates and final year students graduating in 2021, who are seeking work; in part time work or in precarious work.  Starting in late July. For more information and to sign up, go to We Stand Out.

Black Codher Coding Programme - This programme is for women who have an interest in getting into a tech career and offers a 6-month coding bootcamp for individuals from the UK with the skills and knowledge to become web/mobile application developers.  It’s part time, from 6pm-9pm (run twice a week). It’s designed for black women over 18, unemployed or employed with a salary of under £25k. Deadline is 22nd June 2021. Programme starts in August 2021.  Apply online.

Create Central bootcamps are delivered by Create Central and Solihull Colllege, focused on developing the skills, networks and knowledge to enter the Film, TV and Games Industry in the West Midlands. Bootcamps are delivered regularly in the year (the most recent being Content Creation Bootcamp in May 2021). For eligibility please see the Create central bootcamps website. To find out when new bootcamps are running, please email createcentralbootcamps@solihull.ac.uk.

Digital Innovators Skills Programme offers 3 weeks of development, building core digital, leadership and employability skills and 8 weeks running a group project with an employer. It’s designed for 18-25 year olds who are no longer in full time education and seek quality work. The programme runs regularly throughout the year. Check eligibility via their website.

Generation UK provides a variety of free 12-week courses designed to then enter skilled work: Data Engineering (starts 28th June 21) IT Support (starts 26th July 21) and Customer Support (starts November 2021). To be eligible, you need to be 18-29 years old, living in the West Midlands and not currently in education, training or stable employment.

School of Code offers a free 16 week remote intensive web development course to become job-ready. By the end of the course, you will have learned the fundamentals of programming, learned how to work in a high performance tech team, and you will be specialised in full-stack JavaScript development.  They state that the programme ‘has achieved a 75-90% employment in tech consistently (even during the COVID pandemic) despite most bootcampers having never seen a line of code before they start the course.’  Although applications for July 2021 have now closed, future cohorts will be running soon and registering your interest is recommended. Check eligibility via their website.

Uprising’s Environmental Leadership Programme runs for 6 months online and includes workshops and sessions designed to help you become the next green leader. Aimed at 18-24 year olds, who are based anywhere in England. Full details on their website. Register your interest.  

What are my Disability and Employment rights?

During any recruitment process, it’s important to know your rights and how to prepare, including adjustments and answering competency based questions. Employ-ability.org.uk have provided a Next Generation Inclusive Thinking Webinar Series discussing rights as a neurodiverse and disabled student or graduate.

At what stage of the recruitment process should I disclose my disability?

EmployAbility.org.uk commented:

'You don't have to disclose your disability, and employers are not allowed to ask you any disability or health related questions during the recruitment process. They may ask whether you need any adjustments, and you can ask for adjustments without having to provide any additional disability information. If you are unsure of what adjustments you may need or can ask for, we can advise you on these. Employers are not allowed to ask what adjustments you'll need to do the job, until they have made you an offer.'

If I disclose my disability to access adjustments, do I risk being discriminated against?

EmployAbility.org.uk commented:

'The ban on asking questions about disability during the recruitment process was included in the legislation to prevent discriminatory assumptions about a person's ability to do the job, based on their disability. It is impossible to say whether any individual employer will discriminate in any given situation. What we can say is that if they don't know about your disability, they have less basis on which to engage wrong assumptions. There remains a risk that asking for adjustments will cause an employer to discriminate, though this is illegal. In practical terms, it is worth focusing your efforts on employers with reputations for being genuinely disability inclusive.'

What do I do if any employer doesn't give me the adjustments I asked for?

EmployAbility.org.uk commented:

'Employers are required by law to provide you with adjustments which are reasonable. They cannot hold a prescribed list of adjustments that they will make. You must be provided with what you need, not what they want to give you. If you do not receive the adjustments you ask for, contact us and we will advocate on your behalf to that employer. Contact EmployAbility.

I need further help

  • Check out our careers resources on the Careers Network’s Careers Support for Students online pages. If you need further help, email your careers query to careersenquiries@contacts.bham.ac.uk.
  • Seek a careers adviser to guide careers direction? Book an careers adviser appointment by signing in to Careers Connect
  • Need help to move forward and progress; boosting self-confidence and self-belief to help set yourself goals? Visit the One to One Progression Coaching page and complete the expression of interest form. (Available particularly to A2B final year undergraduates or graduates currently unemployed or in part time work and seek a graduate job. You must be from the West Midlands region due to funder criteria and eligibility - Transfomation West Midlands Project).
  • Seek health, welfare and wellbeing support? Visit the University's Your Wellbeing page. 
  • Want self-help guides and access to apps? Visit the University's Self-help guides and apps page.