Location is a very important factor when looking for jobs; both for you, and the employer.

THINK ABOUT IT BEFORE APPLYING

If you are applying for a job in another area please do consider it carefully.

 It may be tempting to just send the application off, then worry afterwards- but what’s the point in that? Often you will find out that it’s not going to be feasible. But many graduates will apply for jobs without thinking about location, meaning they end up disappointed. And it will also increase your number of unsuccessful applications.

Think of housing and relocation costs, support networks, etc. If push comes to shove and you get an offer, will you realistically be happy to relocate? I would suggest thinking about it before you even apply. It’s not good to go through the process, and maybe even get an offer, then decide it’s not for you.

Also, think of how it will look if you have not considered location before applying. It can give an impression of not being organised and committed, which could potentially have an impact if you apply for another job with that recruiter, or another site of the employer.

If you plan to commute, research if this is feasible. Are you happy to do this, including in the long-term?

One graduate told me that she would commute from East London to Southampton for a 24k salary graduate job. Not only had she not looked into time and cost, but she didn’t even know where Southampton is, and was shocked when I told her it’s around 90 miles away. That may be an extreme example, but I have hundreds more where the location was 15 or 20 miles away. The same principle applies.

I would advise looking on google maps to see how far away the location is. It will also give you an approximate driving time, and also times of public transport (but do change the time of travel to the morning, as if you are doing it at a different time it will give options for that time- when it may be less busy).

In general, unless its a niche area (or something that is ideal for you for many reasons) I would question whether it’s worth applying for vacancies all over the country, as this can have a huge impact on your time, and quality of applications. Narrowing it down will enable you to concentrate on a smaller set of applications.

THE EMPLOYER’S VIEW

Many SMEs will only take on one graduate a year or less; they certainly won’t be taking on as many as the big graduate employers who may be more open to relocation as they need more people.

SMEs invest a lot in the training and development of any graduate they take on, and it causes big problems if they end up leaving. Graduates will sometimes use the experience they get in order to get a job closer to home, and this means wasted time, money, and hopes, for the employer. And having to start again.

So, many employers are wary of anything that may make this more likely to happen. The complications in relocation, or a long commute, can be seen as a risk.

If there are strong applicants who are already based locally they will generally be preferred. So if there are any reasons why you are looking in that specific area, it’s important to mention them on your CV (in the summary).

 RELOCATION

In the view, and experience, of many SME employers there are a number of difficulties and potential issues involved with relocation; not least the temptation to take something closer to home if it comes up (after you start, or during the application stage). Or getting homesick and leaving. Some employers are more relaxed about relocation, especially if there are not a lot of suitable people who are interested; but most will be cautious.

If there is a reason you are looking to relocate to a specific area then it’s essential that you mention it. For example, your partner may have got a job there. Or you may have friends or relatives in the area. It could be that there is something nearby that is of huge importance to you.

Relocating with no support network can be hard, and make it more likely that you will leave. So an existing support network will ease employers concerns; particularly if you already have housing lined up.

A common issue is where someone has studied in a city, but their housing contract has run out. Some may plan to move home and commute to the city from there initially, then possibly move back. It’s ok if you live 10 miles away, but what if it’s 50 miles?

This can present problems, and may put off employers. Many will think ‘if you like the job so much, why not move now’? There will be concern that you may get used to home comforts again, and never return to the city; instead, using the experience you have gained to get a new job somewhere closer (it happens).

If you are genuinely interested in the job, it may be best to scope out the housing situation on somewhere like Rightmove or other housing websites. See if it is going to be feasible to stay. Or are there any friends or course-mates who are staying who you could share with?

COMMUTING

Commuting up to an hour, maybe a bit more,  is generally ok; much more can be an issue in the long-term. In terms of distance, this varies according to where you are (with density of people and traffic). 10 miles in Cumbria is a lot different to 10 miles crossing London or Birmingham.

Commuting can take it’s toll. and people can end up leaving when something closer comes up. Every graduate who has done this initially said the commute would be ok, but things can change. And it can be tempting if something closer comes up, it’s human nature. Especially with the time and cost involved.

It can also present more potential problems with being late into the office.

It may be that there are not many options for you locally, particularly if you live in a rural area. So you have no option but to commute. Again, I would mention this if it applies.

Hybrid working opens up more options, but you will generally still need to live within a reasonable distance so you can get into the office when needed. Make sure you are happy with that commute.

Matthew Parry,
Director. SME Graduate Employment

Email: matthew@sme-graduates.co.uk Telephone: 0370 774 9500

SME Graduate Employment is a specialist student and graduate recruitment agency covering permanent jobs, placements, and internships across the UK. Most job types and business sectors are covered.

You can see student and graduate jobs advertised here Student and Graduate job vacancies (sme-graduates.co.uk) and read more blogs and advice to help develop your employability skills here University student and graduate employability advice and tips (sme-graduates.co.uk)

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