Dear Matthew: Don't make me move to London

Written by: Matthew Turner
Published on: 14 May 2014

BD’s career doctor advises an architect who is struggling to find work locally

Question: All this talk of recovery and architects having more work isn’t quite what I see. Where I am there are few work opportunities about; nothing gets advertised. I would much prefer to stay in my region, but am now feeling forced to go to London. I am resenting this as I like where I live and am settled here. Am I missing something about finding work locally?

Answer: It seems a long time since Norman Tebbit famously encouraged people in your position to “get on your bike”. For architects especially, with our long-standing global outlook, moving around happens all the time. It is also clear that the construction sector in London and the south east is getting increasingly busy, meaning it is true that for those in the big city the time is better for encountering work than it has been for many years.

But it is not as simple as that: many practices across the country are doing well now, and not only in their geographical area. It is now much easier to succeed either as successful businesses operating nationally - or successful in a niche.

So before conceding defeat on finding work locally, are you sure you have really exhausted what is actually available in your region? Remember, far more jobs come about from recommendation and asking, rather than the placement of job ads. You need to be proactive.

Luckily there are a variety of ways to network these days, in case hanging around for drinks after an RIBA regional event doesn’t appeal to you. Wider networks can be helpful, and Linked In is great for this, allowing connections from unexpected quarters. Are you up to date, and using it actively? A friend of mine working in another sector, who would definitely be described as shy, successfully landed his dream job through approaching the contacts of his Linked In connections, after he had identified they knew someone in the company he wanted to work for.

Of course, you may be correct in saying there is not much around. But I wouldn’t rush into making the decision to move to London – a decision that sounds negative for you and may cost you a lot. First, you should satisfy yourself that you have doggedly pursued work locally. To me, it sounds like your way of searching rather than your location is the main issue.

Architect Matthew Turner of has worked at a range of offices as well as being a client adviser, project manager and competition juror

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