It seems that there are depressing articles in the print and electronic media on a regular basis about the effects of the credit crunch and specifically the rise in the cost of fuel. Certainly these changes are being felt strongly in the UK and the US, but many countries around the world are also suffering. However, there are several ways these changes might affect you as an academic jobseeker, this article explores some of them.
Fuel and recruitment
He argued that candidates might not be prepared to travel so far to get to work or that companies and institutions might be forced to prove they are providing ‘green' methods of transport for their employees. On a more general scale, employers might be forced to stop thinking globally and focus on local markets and resources with the most successful companies being the most adaptable ones in this area. But how does all this affect the jobseeker?
Travelling to work
In several other articles on this website the issue of commuting to work has been discussed. Academics, especially those living in two-adult-households, often have to travel a long way to work.
The advantage of this way of working is that many scholars work from home and don't have to be in the office forty hours per week. However, will the credit crunch mean that many people reject these long commutes? After all, when you live 100 miles from your work place, walking or going by bicycle is simply not an option!
One solution is to meet up with colleagues or others travelling between the same two points and start a car share scheme. You will be given contributions towards petrol and the up-keep of your car and may even make new friends in the process. Many companies now run their own car share schemes designed to put people in touch with one another easily; they also often provide designated parking spots in prime locations for car sharers, which is a valuable asset as many places of work are shrinking their car parking provision for employees or making it much more expensive.
Other types of commuting
The increased price of fuel doesn't simply affect car travellers; train companies take the opportunity to put their prices up too. An open return train ticket from Coventry to Manchester went up 20% in price in the last 12 months; that sort of increase cannot be sustained over many years before employees begin seriously thinking about finding a job nearer home or moving to be closer to their job.
Many universities and private companies offer a loan scheme to allow you to buy travel season tickets in advance using an interest-free loan taken out of your wages. These schemes are excellent for those travelling to work five days a week during most weeks of the year, but be careful to ensure that it is worth you getting a season ticket if you only have to be in the office for two or three days a week for thirty weeks of the year.
The most extreme solution to the transport crisis would be to move house to be nearer your job. However, that brings its own problems in these difficult times for the housing market.
Moving nearer work
If you are in your dream job and don't want to find another one, but you cannot afford the long commute any more, the obvious answer is to move house to be nearer your work if your family life permits this.
However, are you going to be able to sell your house? This article is not the place to provide in-depth advice on this matter, but it is a significant sticking point for those thinking about moving to be nearer a job. If you have put your house on the market and it simply won't sell and you have already put your price down as low as you can, another option might be to rent it out, hopefully leaving it to pay for itself, while renting somewhere in your new location of choice.
Another option if it's feasible in these financially challenged times is to keep your main home and rent somewhere else near work, turning your daily commute into a weekly or even monthly one. This means that you will spend a considerable amount of time away from family and friends and also that money saved on travelling may be spent on rent for your second home, but it could be the only option that suits you.
A new job?
If you have considered all the options above and they are not suitable for your domestic arrangements, the credit crunch may in fact force you to consider looking for work closer to home.
This is a real challenge for academic staff such as lecturers and researchers because their fields are so competitive and their skills offered so specialist that it might take a long time for a job close to home to be advertised. You might have to consider doing part-time or hourly paid work at your local university as a ‘way in'. Many departments have this sort of teaching or research assistantship work available, especially if you are prepared to be flexible, but, of course, exchanging a secure position in a university a long way from home for an insecure one near home is a very difficult decision.
If you are not prepared to do this, then you will have to play ‘the long game'. It will mean checking the availability of academic positions for a long period of time while doing everything you can to maximise your skills and general employability.
If you have found that you want to search for academic and research jobs only in your local area, use the jobs.ac.uk location search box on the home page, or if you want to limit it further, type the name of your town into the keyword box; as an example as of today 36 positions in all fields came up when I entered ‘York' as a search term. Also, keep checking the Career Development website for more tips on academic jobseeking. Good luck!
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