“ Should I work in London? ” Graduates, Choose Wisely


Now that you’ve graduated, are you asking yourself: “ Should I work in London? ”

The City. The Big Smoke. Whatever you call our capital, London is often seen as a land of opportunity for many a job seeker. Numerous graduates finish their studies with the dream of securing a big-time job in the capital without fully weighing up the pros and cons. Are graduate jobs in London all they’re cracked up to be?

The allure of the The Big Smoke is certainly understandable; London is a bustling hub of culture, restaurants, bars and entertainment, where you can encounter people from all walks of life. Not to mention the fact that the city is jam packed with banking headquarters, household name businesses and corporate head offices. It’s hard to ignore the draw of London, beckoning you to join the millions of professionals bustling along her pavements. This is especially true if you’re fresh out of university; the abundance of graduate jobs in London is certainly a lure. However, is committing to one of these opportunities the perfect first step onto your career path or is it a recipe for disaster?

To find out, CareerExperts spoke to Dan Partington, a Senior Recruitment Consultant for Bridgewater Resources UK. Dan specialises in graduate recruitment and has placed graduates in roles all over the country. Here’s what he had to say about the matter of starting your career in London.

No bang for your buck

We’ve all seen the comparison articles floating around the internet comparing the price of living in London with that of the rest of the UK. For example, take a look at this Buzzfeed piece about the houses you can buy in the capital vs. in Yorkshire! While I doubt that, as a new grad, you’ll be jumping straight onto the London property ladder, it’s a good indicator to show the massive difference in the cost of day-to-day life in comparison to elsewhere.

Rent is much higher as are travel costs and other necessary expenses such as food and socialising. Yes, salaries tend to be higher in London, even for graduate jobs, but that’s because they need to be. That being said, this doesn’t mean that the salary increase will match the hike in the cost of living.

If you are planning on moving to London after uni, be prepared to see your wages disappear quickly. While you’re surrounded by so many things to see and do, it’s pretty hard to enjoy them if you’re forced to live like a skint student all over again!

Competition is fierce

To grads, London is the job promised land. It’s not hard to see why, there are some truly great opportunities available in the city. However, this also means that it’s a very popular choice for people starting their careers. For this reason, there are often hundreds of individuals applying for a single graduate vacancy. Needless to say, this decreases your chances of success massively; you can lose out on a job you would be perfect for simply because there were so many applicants.

If you are lucky enough to secure a graduate job in London, then progression can be slow. There’s not much you can do about it either, because employers know that there are many people that would be happy to take your place!

What are you working towards?

We all have our goals; the reasons we get up to go to work keep us going through the good days and the bad days. Whether you want to see the world, buy a new car or if you’re saving for a mortgage. Whatever your dream is, that’s what you work hard for. Sadly, in London, a lot of young people are having to put their dreams on hold.

Most of your income will go towards making ends meet and that promotion you were praying for might go to someone else. Imagine that your friends in other parts of the country are moving their way up the career ladder, buying houses and jetting off to Dubai for weekend breaks. Now imagine watching all of that happening from your tiny shared flat while deciding whether to spend your last few quid on an Oyster card top-up or some dinner.

What else is out there?

I’m not here to convince you that London is the Devil – far from it, I love London! There are certainly plenty of career success stories that come out of The Big Smoke, too.  I just think it’s a genuine shame that a lot of graduates discount some great cities as working and living destinations, simply down to an idealistic image of the capital. If you’re thinking about moving to London after you graduate, make sure that you do your research and weigh up all of your other options first.

Compare how many opportunities are available in different cities, the costs of living and other factors that will affect your every day life. If your heart is still set on the bright lights of London, consider neighbouring areas. Locations in the South East and Essex offer brilliant career prospects for graduates, but are still close enough to London for you to enjoy all that the capital has to offer.

So, is London still the right choice for you? It’s certainly not your only option! If you ask yourself “ Should I work in London? ”, make sure that your decision is an informed one.

Bridgewater Graduates offer sales, management and a variety of other commercial roles with market-leading businesses across the UK. Search their graduate jobs here.

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