23 Mar 2017

Terrorism & Job hunting...

I wasn't really sure how to approach this one. I'm a recruiter not a political commentator and I'd like to make clear that this blog is just an 'observation' rather than me giving some kind of expert opinion on terrorism and security in the UK.

I'm sure most of the UK today is feeling a little unsettled following the London terror attack yesterday (22nd March 2017).   I was in Manchester for most of the day and as I headed back to the train station (around 4pm), I did think that there was a much higher than average police presence around and a feeling of nervousness/edginess in my fellow commuters.  I assumed there must be a football match on that evening and tried to dodge the torrential downpour and to get onto my train as quickly as possible.  I'm trying to be less glued to my mobile so I used the journey to write my 'to do' list for the following day and it was only when Mr PMP came home around 7pm that I heard about the situation in London.  I felt sad for all those involved, grateful for our emergency services and thankful that I no longer have a job which requires me to travel regularly to the capital.

I've seen a lot of social media posts today stating the stoicism of Londoners and Brits and 'we can't let them win' statements.  However, conversely I've had CVs from 3 candidates today who have specifically cited that they are looking for roles in Cheshire/South Manchester, to avoid having to commute into the city, particularly by train and to try to avoid, in as much as anyone can, the threat of a terrorist attack.  These candidates got home last night and updated their CVs specifically as a result of the London attack.  I've also had a couple of London based candidates get in touch to say that they are relocating North - the perception being that Manchester is safer than London.

We are all advised that our security risk levels are extremely high and we all live with the threat of an imminent terrorist attack. The media don't exactly help with their comments that all you need is a knife and a car - it does nothing to calm an anxious population.  But whilst we've seen tourism affected around the world as a direct result of terrorist attacks, I hadn't really computed that it could also affect job hunting and where individuals are prepared to travel to in order to work.

Presently, the bulk of job opportunities in the North are centred in and around the city centres so limiting job searches specifically to say Cheshire (for agency candidates) would give quite a small pool of opportunities.  But having said that, smaller agencies often cite the city centre business rates and rentals to be too high and then choose to base themselves in Stockport, Macclesfield, Didsbury or further North such as Bury or Bolton.  Historically the bright young things working in advertising have sought the bright lights of Manchester or Leeds and we've struggled to find good individuals for a small independent in the suburbs.  Perhaps we'll see a shift in this over the coming months and years.  I also think that candidates may avoid public transport more and be inclined to drive to try to have some more control over their safety and to avoid the major rail hubs and stations.

It is a sad state of affairs. Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds - they are all huge creative hubs and I hope they remain so. And yes, we must be rational about what the risks to us actually are (the usual being that we're more likely to be run over by a bus than involved in a terror attack). I'd like to think that we'll prove we're a hardy lot and not give into the fear. But it's hard not to. I know I've started to avoid busy areas and I actively avoid the Arndale Centre*, Market Street and Piccadilly in Manchester - I'm scared.  It will be interesting to see how this develops and whether my observations today are the start of a trend, or just a reaction following a shocking day in London.

*To be fair, I've pretty much always avoided the Arndale Centre. With the exception of the Fish Market.