When deciding what you want to do with the rest of your life, considering where you want to do it is equally important.
The location, or relocation, of your first graduate job is highly important because, let's not forget, while you might be working for around 40 hours a week, the rest of the time is your own. So it is worth giving the location some thought, even if it is not your determining factor.
For you graduates who might be days, weeks or months into your search, you will have undoubtedly noted something in common with the majority of graduate jobs out there. One small linking factor that is common across sector, pay and industry boundaries. It is the unavoidable and all-consuming capital of the United Kingdom.
Yes, London it appears is the destination for work hungry university leavers seeking fame and fortune. And, like Dick Whittington himself, many graduates are finding their way down to the Capital. The High Fliers Report for 2015 found that 85% of the top 100 employers were offering graduate roles in London. Likewise the report also stated that nearly half of the same employers were offering graduate jobs in the South East.
Old London town
London is divisive. Some people love it, claim its streets are paved with gold and has everything anyone could want. Other people have quite a different opinion, summarised so perfectly by Alan Partridge, who said in London you'll either be “mugged or under-appreciated”. As an expat Yorkshire-boy in London, I'd say the truth lies somewhere in-between.
From personal experience, while I moved down here for university back in September 2009, I have seen more and more people from "back home" move to the city. Not only the case with my friends from home, but other people have also remarked that they now have as many friends in the city as they do back home.
But what does this all mean for you graduates trying to find work and unsure of whether to wrap your belongings in a spotted handkerchief?
If you want to move to London then of course do. There are a wide range of graduate jobs and schemes covering every sector, industry and niche. If you don't want to move to The Big Smoke then that is fine, but I would recommend that this doesn't become systematic of a wider unwillingness to relocate.
The days of Lenny and George-type migrant workers might seem long gone, but the concept remains. For graduates today, in a competitive market place, it is certainly a case of the mountain and Mohammed. Work will not come to you, and certain sacrifices might have to be made in following your dream career.
Commitments, be it childcare or family dependencies are often relatively rare for graduates of our/your age. Young and carefree might be an idealistic way to put it, but there is little actually holding most of you back. So why not take the plunge, spread the net and look further afield.
Following the sun
The first thing to concede when thinking about relocation is that it's not that bad. There are areas of the UK that have a really bad rep. Regional stereotypes can be an unconscious stumbling block for many graduates which in the end will only come back to hurt them.
For example, my homelands of East Yorkshire and Hull are routinely the butt of jokes. Despite tireless work to reinvent itself, people do tend to grimace slightly when the city and area is mentioned – unfairly and often without having been there. Graduates should not be looking for reasons not to consider places, whether it is the backward West Country, grim North or snooty South East.
By the same token, moving to a new area of the country or new city can open a whole range of doors for graduates. This does sound toe-curlingly cringey, but shouldn't be laughed off. Yeh, it might be lonely for a bit and teething problems may happen, but you shouldn't let this put you off. New areas, counties, cities can offer a different life for you to embark on. You managed it at university and you can manage in a new town.
Another point to consider alongside the clichéd new starts and new horizons, is that there is work there. Obviously, having employment before you move there is ideal, but the biggest plus is that you'll be starting a career. Even if it is not your idyllic location, graduates can begin their career path and develop some "career capital" to give them more weight when looking to move on and move elsewhere. So if you do find somewhere that isn't exactly right for you, you'll now have a bit of experience behind you to take you else where
The London Road
Obviously some careers are likely to take you to certain areas of the country. The likelihood of finding an investment banker graduate job in Carlisle is pretty slim, for example. Which brings us back to the Capital. Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you look at it, many career sectors are most concentrated in London. Whether it is banking, legal, media, advertising or digital careers, these more times than not are based in London.
So do you have to move here to find a career in one of those or other sectors? Perhaps not. Recently, many organisations have started to spread their operations across the UK and this doesn't look like slowing. Increases in travel infrastructure and technological advances are allowing companies be more creative about their options.
On the other hand though, graduates should not just write off the city. It's busy, bustling and chaotic, but has something to offer everyone. You don't need me to wax lyrical about it but both London lovers and haters should be open minded about the working anywhere in the UK.