5 reasons top candidates want to work in London
18th century English writer Samuel Johnson once wrote: ‘When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life,’ and the recent Global Talent Survey (conducted by The Network and the Boston Consulting Group) certainly seems to back that up.
Many may have thought that New York, Berlin, Barcelona or Paris would have been the top choice for the world’s top talent to choose to work, but one in six of those questioned by the survey (16%) said they wanted to work in London. Why is this? And what makes London such a special place for worldwide talent?
London offers a wide variety of jobs in a number of industries. Job websites, such as TotalJobs, are playing a large part in changing people’s perceptions, particularly with increasing numbers of people from overseas who feel there are no barriers to working. Nowadays, more people use job websites to kickstart their London career and it is clear what job opportunities there are in London for both UK and overseas jobseekers.
In France, for example, high taxes and the failing economy make London an attractive proposition. The University of Sorbonne economics professor Jacques Régniez has witnessed a significant shift in the past few years, with one out of four French university graduates wanting to emigrate. ‘In one of my finance seminars, every single French students intends to go abroad,’ he says. The Global Talent Survey backs this up reporting that two out of three (64%) jobseekers are willing to move abroad for work.
London is a cultural hub with plenty going on to appeal to anyone from concert venues to top class restaurants, via art galleries and tech shows. Jessica, who works for one of London Docklands’ big banks sums up the attitude: ‘It can be expensive, but for me it’s worth it because you have so much on your doorstep and there’s the potential to earn more.’
If you have relocated from abroad and find it difficult to settle at first, the cosmopolitan nature of the English capital should provide something to float your boat, whether it is community groups such as Kiwis in London to keep you in touch with your compatriots, the plethora of clubs, pubs and eateries with a distinctive cosmopolitan feel or the many country-specific food stores that have sprung up in the past few years.
‘One thing I have learned while working in corporate hospitality is that working abroad really does add to your career prospects,’ says Woody a senior account executive with a hospitality firm. And he should know, he moved from Chicago to London two years ago and has never looked back. ‘I love the Windy City [Chicago],’ he says, ‘but right now, London is the place to be and I can see myself being here for another two to three years. I signed a short-term London contract with the company when I first came over and have renewed that, but even though I love London, one day I will return home.’
Woody’s advice is short and to the point. ‘Explore. It is good to travel and gain new experience. If you make a name for yourself in London, it will be noted by your employers and be a big boost to your career prospects. You don’t have to stay forever, but if you like it… why not?’ he smiles.
‘I used to react against the statement, “If you want to get on, you’d better move to London,”’ says Katherine, an insurance broker now working in the capital. ‘I am from Sheffield and was doing fine there, but then I needed to make the next big step. I saw an opportunity in London and decided to take it.’
The hike in salary was an obvious incentive, but Katherine had a lot of thinking to do. ‘I was born and raised in Sheffield, so here I was in my mid-thirties, thinking of the big leap. I had to decide if I could do it and whether it was worth it. You cannot get away from the fact that accommodation and daily living expenses are higher than home.’
Katherine admits to struggling at first both financially and socially, but things soon picked up. ‘I love it here now and would find it very hard to go back to Sheffield. It is a buzz working in such a great city and my London promotion has definitely helped me to afford what London has to offer. I have a small, but great group of friends now and also made contact with some childhood friends from Sheffield who live in Farnham, just outside of London.’
Jan-Peter is a civil engineer from the Netherlands, and the survey reveals that the French and Dutch are the most willing to move abroad for work, with a staggering 90% desiring work abroad.
He moved to work with a leading London-based civil engineering firm just over two years ago in July 2012. ‘Change in London is happening so rapidly and there are huge amounts of regeneration, Crossrail and infrastructure work to plan, oversee and carry out. As a civil engineer it is the place to be and the challenges are huge and rewarding. I am learning new things every day,’ says Jan-Peter.
‘It helps that London is such a brilliant place to live in and if I need my fix of Dutch food and drink I can always go to De Hems Dutch Café Bar in Soho. What a place Soho is, I have never seen such variety on offer.’
I take it the language was not a barrier then Jan-Peter?
‘No. Most kids learn English at school, but it is good to speak and write it regularly. I work with some French and Spanish guys too, and their English was a bit “unused”, so they had to improve that.’
The Global Talent Survey 2014 underlines a radical change in the worldwide job market. The barriers to where you work are coming down and the ability to sniff out a job opportunity anywhere has improved immeasurably. Such an opening up of the global job market has emphasised just how much London is regarded globally and in the UK. Sure it can be an expensive place to live but, given the right opportunity, it can be the only place to be.
To browse through available jobs in London, click here.