Covid-19 may have caused a rise in remote working, yet location rightfully remains an important factor in graduates’ career decisions. We don’t yet know what long-term effects the coronavirus might have on the labour market and whether this rise is here to stay, but we do know that location has often been a key factor for graduates in deciding where to apply or whether to accept an offer. In fact, in the Graduate Survey 2020 of almost 72,000 students, 14% of students said it was the most influential factor in their job search. However, it is worth considering that the Graduate Survey was concluded in January 2020, just before the pandemic took hold, and so doesn’t reflect any changes to career aspirations prompted by Covid-19.
So where are the graduate vacancies in the UK and beyond?
A survey by the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) of its members published in November 2020 indicated that in the recruitment year 2019–20 vacancies were in the following locations:
- London 45%
- South East 8%
- West Midlands 7%
- North West 6%
- Yorkshire and Humberside 3%
- South West 5%
- Scotland 7%
- East Midlands 3%
- East of England 2%
- North East 3%
- Wales 1%
- Northern Ireland 1%
- Europe 2%
- Rest of the world 7%
Of course, it’s worth remembering that the ISE’s membership is typically made up of the largest graduate recruiters and that during this recruitment cycle the pandemic hit. Those employees who could work from home did and anecdotally we’ve heard that most graduates and people early on in their careers returned to the family home. So where graduates are now working may not be where they started the year working – and the above statistics do not reflect vacancies with all employers.
When the Graduate Survey 2020 asked students just before the pandemic where they most wanted to work the top three locations were London (48%), the North West (6%) and the West Midlands (6%). It will be interesting to see whether this has changed by the time of the next survey.
If I can work from anywhere, why should I care about location?
Working from home doesn’t suit every employee and every employer, so it’s important to think about the below points if you’re considering a remote role.
Remote working may be temporary for many employers
While some employers have seen the benefits of remote working, other employers have encountered problems with maintaining employee morale, supervising their staff and temperamental tech and dodgy wifi among other things. Similarly, while some employees have loved being able to work from home, others have struggled. So, while we are hearing from many employers that an element of remote working will probably remain, you may well still need to live within a commutable distance of an office. In fact, most employers are still putting location down in their job advertisements for 2020–21 vacancies.
Flexible or on-site/in-office work might suit you better
Even if you find a role that is permanently remote, you should consider whether working from home suits you in the same way as employers have been figuring out whether it’s right for them. Think about your working style during university and any work experience – are you someone who thrives through meeting and talking through ideas with others or are you more of an independent worker? Also, consider what you want from your job – is the opportunity to socialise with colleagues after work important to you, or would you be unlikely to miss this as you’d be living close to friends anyway?
Where could I earn the most?
Your location could have an impact on your salary. If you decide to move to where the money is, be mindful of how much you’d spend if you lived at that location – often salaries reflect higher living costs. Looking closely at the entire benefits package rather than focusing solely on salary will also give you a better idea of whether you’d be better off by moving to work for an employer. Below are the median salaries in each location, according to the ISE survey of 2020:
- Northern Ireland £26,000
- Scotland £27,000
- Yorkshire and Humberside £27,000
- North West £27,000
- East Midlands £27,000
- Wales £27,000
- North East £27,500
- East of England £27,500
- West Midlands £27,500
- South West £28,000
- South East £28,000
- London £33,000
- Europe £35,000
- Rest of the world £37,000
Want to know more about what graduates from different degree disciplines typically earn in different locations? The Pay Index has provided TARGETjobs with a handy graduate salary tool showing variations in pay according to degree subject and location.
Flexibility could increase your chances of getting hired
To what extent are your peers willing to relocate? Below are the places students planned to look for work, according to the Graduate Survey 2020:
- Place of study 27%
- Original home region 23%
- Across the UK 40%
- Abroad 11%
As you can see, a high proportion of students planned to search for work across the UK. Ultimately, ensuring your choice of location – along with whether or not you would like to work from home – suits you is crucial. However, it could work to your advantage if you’re also somewhat flexible. Some employers will be looking for recruits willing to work remotely for the time being, before moving to the office when it is safe to do so. Furthermore, some graduate recruiters receive fewer applications for positions in big cities, potentially making it easier to secure employment if you’re willing to work in other locations as well.
The Graduate Survey 2020 of almost 72,000 students was conducted by Cibyl, a research business that is owned by the same company as TARGETjobs. Find out more about the methodology here. The ISE Student Recruitment Survey 2020 polled 178 employer members in October 2020.