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How to get a digital job in Leeds: spotlight grows on emerging suburban hub in Chapel Allerton and Moortown

By Angela Haggerty, Reporter

February 27, 2013 | 5 min read

The Leeds digital media job market has been boosted by regeneration in the city, but the well known Holbeck Urban Village and New Dock sites aren't the only areas showing promise.

There's more to digital Leeds than Holbeck Urban Village

Traditional neighbourhoods in the north of the city are providing a home to an emerging digital hub. Chapel Allerton and Moortown have become home to a new group of companies, and its expanding.

Digital agency Search Laboratory, based in a renovated synagogue in Moortown, has provided 40 new jobs in the last quarter alone, and is one of approximately five agencies in the area. CEO Ian Harris told The Drum: "Leeds is well known as a digital agency stronghold, but we're situated away from the recognised digital hub in the city centre.

"Based out in the suburbs we've created over 60 new jobs in the last 12 months, which if it were split across six different agencies would be heralded as the formation of a digital hub in itself so you could say there is a major digital development in our area."

It's estimated that the digital and creative industries in Leeds provide jobs for around 13,600 people in over 1,600 firms, while creative businesses in the city account for over half those in West Yorkshire. There have been strong efforts in recent years to regenerate the Holbeck and old Clarence Dock sites, which form the centre of the Leeds digital hub.

One of the selling points to those seeking a job in the Leeds digital industry is the vibrant culture of the city, something which Harris believes is more appealing for those moving outwards to the suburb businesses: "The fact we are based in an area which is not a full digital hub sets us apart from other parts of Leeds. Both of our offices are in the suburbs, albeit suburbs with thriving business communities, and this means our staff can enjoy simple benefits such as an easy commute into work, free parking and the like.

"Our Chapel Allerton office is in the heart of the main graduate area of the city, often called the Clapham of Leeds, and this makes for an easy work/life balance for our employees."

The company opened a second office in the Chapel Allerton area last year, which is home to many of the city's graduates and offers a wealth of bright new talent, an advantage for any digital company.

Harris, who has been programming for the internet since 1995 and has a MSc in internet technologies, advises those looking for work to develop CV writing and interview techniques, and gives an idea of what the industry is looking for: "Without Leeds' universities we may have encountered more of a recruitment problem. Our multilingual team - which is the the fastest growing team in the company - is made up completely of native speakers, who service clients globally.

"Finding French, German, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, Scandinavian and so on SEO executives, with the necessary level of English and appropriate skills would certainly be a tall task without the city's universities. Another challenge we do encounter when it comes to recruitment is finding maths graduates who have the required client-facing skills to make them brilliant account managers."

Search Laboratory has over 250 clients in 18 countries and manages campaigns in over 35 languages for retailers such as Debenhams, asos, Mulberry and Vistaprint. Harris founded the company to fill a gap in the market for a dedicated multilingual search engine marketing service.

"Jobseekers don't necessarily need to have a digital background to find a job in an agency in Leeds," he continues, "as long as they have done their homework on the company and industry in question. Obviously, experience is beneficial but we're more interested in whether the person is bright, personable and enthusiastic about the position."

The digital economy is being driven forward up and down the country, with the support and backing of the UK government. The industry is expected to form a major part of Britain's future economy, and there are no signs of things slowing down.

"It's an exciting time for the digital market," says Harris. "The search engine marketing industry is growing year-on-year by 18 per can so there is an ever increasing demand for staff. More and more companies are waking up to the online potential of their business.

"However, a lot of major brands and retailers are still making basic SEO mistakes, which ultimately will be costing them business, so I don't foresee the market slowing down anytime soon."

To view the latest digital jobs in your area, visit The Drum's job section


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