Where do graduates live and work? How much does the location matter in graduate choices? Research into graduate migration by Labour Market Information expert, Charlie Ball, shows existing ties to local areas can influence a propensity to work in them. Also, I would suggest that the attraction of a city plays a part in the decision-making of where to live and work. My thinking about the power of place follows a presentation about the Leeds Business Improvement District at a recent networking event. What can graduates, employers, and recruiters learn from an understanding of the power of place?

Place shaping

In the 2017 World’s Best City Brands Report, the Resonance Consultancy ranked the world’s top 100 best city brands. It uses a combination of statistical performance and qualitative evaluations by locals and visitors in 20 areas that it groups into six core categories. London was the overall winner with Manchester, Birmingham, and Leeds also in the top 100.

  • Place: Perceived quality of a city’s natural and built environment – Lisbon is No.1
  • Programming: The arts, culture, and entertainment in a city – Paris
  • Prosperity: Employment, GDP per capita, and corporate head offices – London
  • Product: A city’s key institutions, attraction, and infrastructure – Dubai
  • People: Immigration and diversity of a city – Singapore
  • Promotion: Quantity of articles, references, and recommendations online – London

Its resonance ranking is an interesting way to view what attracts people to a city from different perspectives:

Increasingly, reputation, identity, and the perceived quality of place determine where talent, capital, and tourism flow. Resonance

This has implications for how a place shapes itself to attract graduates to live and work in their locality. In turn, it gives employers and recruiters a way of presenting their offer that is more than just about the job or company. From a graduate perspective, wellbeing issues and the desire for more meaning and alignment with values fit well with the importance of place in their decision-making. For example, graduates might ask themselves:

  • How easy, comfortable, and affordable is it to travel for work and leisure?
  • Is there a commitment to sustainability?
  • Does the city have the arts, culture, and entertainment that I enjoy?
  • Is the quality of the built environment attractive to live in and conducive to my health and welfare?
  • Do the salary levels make it affordable to live in this city?
  • Are the people open to incomers?

Working to live


2013-14 UK Graduate Migration Patterns (via Charlie Ball)

Anecdotally, the choices of my three Millennial daughters about where to live and work reflect the importance of place. Two are graduates and choose to live and work away from the location of their universities (regional incomers). After a brief flirtation, the cost of travel and rent in London proved too prohibitive. In addition, property ownership is beyond them in any location. Using the Resonance criteria, they choose to work to live in cities in the North-West because of a combination of Place, Programming, Product, and People.

If you are a 20-something Graduate, where does the power of place feature in your job search decision-making?