Harrison Careers

Overpaid graduates?

The comparison is not often made between graduate starting salaries in the United Kingdom versus the United States. I get it. It’s not as if many graduates have citizenship in both countries so they cannot simply choose one or the other. But do you have any idea how different the salaries are?

In London, I believe that the starting salary with one of the Big 4 Accounting Firms is about £29,000. If you want to work for a technology company like Amazon or Snapchat in the UK, then you will get paid in the low thirties, but not that much more because the brains of the big technology companies are in Silicon Valley. Then if you want the highest-paid jobs in London, you join an investment bank and get close to £50,000 (around US$60,000). However, you have to fight tooth and nail with the finest candidates in Europe from the elite universities in each European country, like Bocconi, Stockholm, SSE, École Polytechnique. It’s not easy. In the US, if you graduate from an average college, you are expecting to get at least US$35,000 – and that’s for a pretty average job. A good starting salary from a Top 50 US College would be more like US$80, 000.  Anyone studying Computer Science is aiming for a starting salary of $100,000 plus. Yes, America is the Promised Land.

Let’s go back to the headline. In about 2002-2006 I watched the frenzy of hiring and money making in Financial Services in London. I saw support people collecting job offers that paid £45,000. They were not the crème de la crème – just the average students. Then outsourcing to other countries and to British provincial cities happened, and that same job now pays £20,000 at the most.

I see the same thing happening with technology companies, including Amazon. I see (good but not the best) candidates being hired for support roles at Amazon, who are getting starting salaries of around $100,000 plus sign-on bonuses in the tens of thousands. I cannot help thinking that this cannot last. American Tech Companies are engaged in the war for talent. It is extremely difficult to get H1B visas for foreign workers, so the foreign talent has been cut off, and everyone has to fight over the best American candidates.

It won’t last. What do you think?