This week, we’re going back to my hometown. The UK’s second city. The City of a Thousand Trades. Workshop of the World.
Brum, my old stomping ground, and home to Premier League giants, the world famous Aston Villa.
And with us for the journey, is long-time Hunted pal, Lauren Howard from Executive Network Group.
You might not have heard much about this yet, but there’s a thing called Brexit happening in the UK. And with all the searing forethought taken by our exemplary government, the confusion is having a negative effect on industry.
You only have to look around the city centre at the moment to realise how the construction market’s booming. And this is being felt in the recruitment world also. HS2, the major railway development is a real opportunity for growing businesses and making Birmingham a fantastic backup to London.
ENG specifically have 4 brands that recruit nationwide into Procurement, Health & Safety, Human Resources and FMC, which covers both Facilities Management and Construction.
And such is the growth and makeup of the business, there’s cross selling for all.
This is what happens when you join a strategically minded business. And find massive companies on your doorstep who appreciate face time and expertise in the right areas.
Companies like Cadbury’s, HSBC, National Express, Jaguar LandRover, Sainsbury’s and Rolls Royce.
And whilst construction increases to home all these companies, business isn’t solely centralised in the city. Automotive and Industrial clients for example favour the outskirts to city life. Meaning more options for living and office locations.
But there’s more benefit to being in Brum. Firstly, due to the London centric past of big business, you’ll find a lot of competition still focusing down there. So, if you pick the right market, like HSE, you also pick a much less competitive market.
Jon Baty, from the West Midlands Growth Company responsible for attracting investment into Birmingham said:
“Birmingham’s booming economy, highly-skilled talent pool and significantly lower operating and living costs than the capital, have made the city a compelling alternative to London.
The region’s welcoming unprecedented levels of investment into its infrastructure, with major schemes such as Paradise and HS2 set to transform the city’s landscape permanently.
“This in turn is fuelling demand from both domestic and foreign companies looking to capitalise on the investment opportunities that lie ahead.
For enterprising recruiters and recruitment firms, the ripple effect of this growth creates a real opportunity to thrive – and with major events such as the Commonwealth Games ahead of us, this exciting period of growth is only set to continue”.
ENG have a focus on permanent vacancies in the second city, but there are contract roles available, again, depending on your niche.
In fact ENG are currently looking to grow their contract arm from the 20% it is currently. And that opportunity exists within virtually every market they operate within.
Birmingham doesn’t differ in the professional community much from other UK cities.
In reality, what you’ve been doing in markets like London or Manchester won’t be too far wrong.
But as with every consideration in recruitment, mirroring the market is always a good idea.
This means networking well and positioning yourself as someone who knows their stuff. Be that through holding Meetups, attending and hosting events or seeking out the best expos.
For ENG, ‘professional intelligence’ is one of their core values, which means networking and industry-specific L&D is always high on the agenda.
Birmingham’s the largest regional cluster for the Financial and Professional Services sector outside of London. And over 4,300 Financial and Professional Services companies are based in the city, which employ over 50,000 people.
But there’s been a shift in culture, not just in business, but the recruitment world too recently.
Birmingham’s consistently been named the best place for start-ups outside of London, with over 18,000 startups based in the city.
Perhaps this means there’s less chance of you working 8am to 8pm, 6 days a week. But working smarter, around your network, so you win friends in business, without woking yourself into the grave.
Birmingham’s a bustling city. And it’s a new haven for startups. And with only 2,100 recruitment agencies in the area, opportunity’s higher than other, more competitive markets.
There’s very much a CBD in Birmingham, and if that’s where your clients are, being within walking distance can save you a lot of time. That said, given the ‘lay of the land’ having a car is definitely the way to go.
The worker aesthetics in central Birmingham is generally suited and booted.
Much like many other cities where the populace remains traditionally corporate. But the fabulous Bullring’s on hand if your wardrobe needs refreshing.
Outside of the CBD, you’ll find Creative and Digital agencies in Digbeth and The Jewellery Quarter. Over 300+ companies in the quirky Custard Factory and professional services in Edgbaston and further surrounding boroughs.
Match your market.
If you’re working the bustling startup world in your new city, it’s best to probably leave the suits in the wardrobe. But Birmingham’s just as snappy as any other city, so keep your options open if you’re exploring a new market.
There’s a new tram in Birmingham which is set to make travel around the city a whole lot easier.
That said, if you’re coming from somewhere like London or New York, the travel links aren’t as convenient as you’ll be used to. So you might need to consider driving, especially if you’re commuting in from the ‘burbs or have clients outside of town.
As mentioned above, if you’re looking for total city centre life, walking’s definitely an option.
This won’t be a shock to anyone who knows the UK, but Birmingham is pretty standard for British weather.
Being located in the Midlands (that’s the middle of the land, for anyone who calls Birmingham northern) means it doesn’t get criminally cold, but isn’t the hottest part of the country either.
Housing, and the cost thereof, is perhaps one of the most attractive things about considering Birmingham as a career option. If you choose to live quite centrally, in the affluent Edgbaston, where ENG call home, you’ll find bargains comparatively against London.
But the most obvious thing you’ll notice is the space. There’s simply more bang for your buck in Brum. Therefore your money goes a lot further, and normally means the gardens are longer and (depending on where you lived before) actually exist.
Outside the city there’s Sutton Coldfield, the up and coming Moseley, Solihull and plenty more.
When I think of food in Birmingham I think fantastic Indian restaurants. And for good reason. The city’s home to some of the best in the country. But actually, when you get into it, Birmingham’s far from single minded in cuisine.
In fact, Birmingham has no fewer than four Michelin Star Restaurants within the city, and three more Michelin starred restaurants in neighbouring Solihull and Warwickshire.
There’s also plenty of food markets and more new dining chains are migrating from hubs like London, widening your lunch options aplenty.
Birmingham city centre has been going through a major facelift for some time now. Less gentrification in this case however, more of a general tidy up.
But more than three quarters of the Midlands is rural and you can’t mention Brum without the canals, which any Brummie will be proud to tell you they have more of than Venice.
There’s countless parks around the city for you to stretch your legs, and you won’t be travelling far outside of town to find wide open spaces.
I don’t want to say there’s been a revival for the social scene in Birmingham, because even when I was too young to be going out, I was and it was thriving then.
Perhaps it’s more of a slow rise incorporating more of the city and an expansion into new areas. There’s definitely new life in this grand old city though. The regeneration of the train station ‘Grand Central’ as a major shopping and leisure destination is incredible.
The Bullring’s a must for shopping and eating. Then there’s the Mailbox and the ever popular Brindley Place.
The Jewellery Quarter’s great for a night out, along with the old classics of Broad Street and Arcadian. And the rise of co-working spaces has given more of a community to business than ever before.
Birmingham’s a great place to raise a family.
There’s some really top schools within the city limits and slightly further afield. In fact the city has more ‘Outstanding’ rated schools of any other regional city outside of London.
Which means hopefully you won’t be short of money. But also places to take the kids are plentiful and they’re more likely to grow up in countryside than a lot of other places.
Birmingham isn’t London. Fairly obviously. But it’s an interesting comparison to make. Because the quality of life, depending on how you judge it, could be just as high.
Did you know for example, on average, residents in Birmingham have 16 times more disposable income than Londoners
In fact, the cost of renting is 57.45% lower. Consumer prices are 20.65% lower and the cost of groceries on average 14.63% lower. If you couple that with the same salary and commission, you can guess the likely outcome.
Basic UK taxes include income taxes, property taxes, capital gains taxes, UK inheritance taxes and Value Added Tax (VAT). Income tax, which is most likely to affect your income initially tops out at 50%.
As a rule of thumb, with a lot of agencies you’re likely to take home 30% of billings (including salary), after tax.
So if you bill £300K, your take home will be roughly £100K. There’s more on ENG, here.
Birmingham’s a great base for international travel. And you have both BHX and East Midlands airports to choose from if you’re looking to get away.
Welcoming nearly 13 million passengers each year, BHX flies to more than 140 international and domestic routes which are serviced by 50 airlines. The airport’s also undergoing an ambitious £500 million expansion to grow passenger numbers by 40% to £18 million by 2033.
The city will also be at the heart of the new HS2 network, which can get you to and from London in 38 minutes and improve connectivity to the north.
Huge thanks to both the West Midlands Growth Company and Executive Network Group, who are hiring now for aspirational recruiters.
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