Should you pay for career coaching services to get a job in the UK after your studies?

We have had a few queries this term asking if you should pay for career coaching services from commercial organisations targeting international students.  Since the abolition of the Tier 1 Post Study Work visa in 2012, more and more of these organisations have sprung up.  They  offer different ranges of services but they are mainly focused on trying to help international students who want to stay in the UK (long or short term), by offering dedicated support to understand and navigate the UK recruitment market successfully.

So, should you pay for their services?

We will start by saying we have had no negative feedback from our students about any company working in this way, and during the year we host a couple of these companies who want to visit to do presentations.

Things to think about

These companies charge a lot of money – up to, and in excess of, £5,000 in some cases.  We would urge you to think very carefully before you part with such a huge sum.

Taking into account that for the whole of the UK only around 2% of international students manage to switch from Tier 4 to Tier 2, you should  weigh up if it’s likely that you will be part of that 2%.  We don’t know what percentage of this 2% were helped into their positions by a career coaching company, but this is an important question to ask: What is your success rate?

Other important questions to ask a provider:

  • in your experience, what factors impact on success?
  • does my degree discipline give me any advantage? Is it in demand?
  • what kind of guarantees, if any do  you offer?
  • what exactly do I get for my money?
  • what happens if I want to withdraw from your programme at any point?
  • if you felt I had little hope of success would you be honest and tell me before taking my money? How often do you do this?
  • can you put me in touch with some successful candidates so I can talk to them 1 – 1

And a question to ask yourself:

  • have I explored all the free options for careers support that I can access first?
  • do I feel I will get something of real value?
You can get a lot of free support from Careers and Placements, here are some examples:
  • last week we offered our free Assessment Centre simulator and we have similar events coming up in weeks 8/9.  We also have online and print material to support you with assessment tests – verbal/numerical reasoning etc. There is also free to access material on YouTube to help you practice these
  • we have online tools to help you focus on your strengths and identify your skills – and how these relate to the job market – plus the chance to talk through your options with a Careers Consultant
  • you can access CV/cover letter/application reviews, and the chance to take part in a mock interview to practice your technique and get feedback
  • we have Information on Tier 2 sponsors and general information and advice for international students looking for work in the UK plus this online blog specifically dealing with issues international students face
  • we can put you in touch with York graduates working in industry so you can find out about recruitment practices – and they can even become a mentor
  • we can advise on how to research companies effectively and lots more
Your standard of English may be a big factor – but there is free help for that too. The Centre for English Language Teaching (CELT) at the University offers a range of English Language courses – conversational and academicwritten English one-to-one sessions and help with oral presentation skills.  You can also take part in a CELT Global Networking course to practise your English further while developing important networking skills.

Some of these companies offer internships – often timed to fit into the 4 months at the end of your degree which we know is attractive to many of you – the chance to get UK work experience that you can do on your existing Tier 4 visa. Again the charges for these are high so check out exactly what  support you will get, what guarantee do you have of success? Will you be offered something that you cannot access yourself for free? Have you checked out our resources for international students?

It is important to check out the quality of the internships on offer:

  • what is your employment contract and are your rights protected?
  • will you be paid?
  • is this experience going to be valuable to your future career
  • is it a real opportunity for learning?
  • are these genuine opportunities for good quality work experience – is there a chance to work longer term for these clients on a Tier 2 or Tier 5 visa?
 I would also suggest tracking down some of the success story applicants – for example on LinkedIn – and see if you can make contact with them independently to ask about their experiences paying for these services and whether they feel they are value for money.
If you are thinking about engaging with one of these companies and want to discuss things further, come and see me on my Wednesday careers drop in (11am – 1pm) in the Careers and Placements building.
Mandy Simmons
Careers Information and Engagement Officer 
Important: It is not legal for recruitment agencies to charge candidates in the UK. Be clear that any company asking for money for services, is offering something beyond what a recruitment agency does – come and talk to us if you need advice.




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