Can you negotiate when receiving a job offer? And crucially, should you?


Picture this: You’ve done endless preparation and have applied for a dozen jobs. The job you really want is with a great company, with excellent prospects. You think it’s super unlikely are going to get it, but you work really hard and apply anyway.

Then, the unthinkable happens! You get an interview request!

And after much preparation and research, you smash your interview, but still you think that a job offer is just a dream.

But then, when you were least expecting it, you get the call: A job offer!

At this point, it’s safe to say that what most people do is this: They accept the job, sign the contract, and turn up for work on the start date.

But what would have happened if you’d have negotiated? Could you have got an even better deal?

Let’s take it from the top.

A job offer is just a mutual agreement

Like any market, the job market only functions well if it’s competitive. This is the only way to ensure fair and equitable pricing. Imagine you were a farmer selling apples. Would you just sell your apples to the first buyer who agreed to purchase them? Or would you survey the marketplace of buyers, see the best price (and business partner) you could get, and then make an informed decision on which buyer to sell to?

And yet, when people talk about the job market, they think “oh, a company wants to give me a job! What a relief!” As though having a job were in itself some special privilege for which a company is the gatekeeper.

Dispel yourself of this mindset.

A job is just a deal. It is a deal between you and a company to exchange work for money (and other things you value).

This might sound like an abstract point, but you should absolutely approach negotiation from this perspective.

The role of negotiation

Negotiating is a natural and expected part of the process of trying to make a deal. It’s also a signal of competence and seriousness. Companies generally respect candidates who negotiate, and most highly attractive candidates negotiate (if for no other reason, because they often have too many options to choose from).

Whilst it’s very easy to say; it doesn’t matter how good or bad you think you are. You never damage a relationship by negotiating and it’s extremely unlikely that the job offer will be rescinded if you do. In fact, it’s almost unheard of.

You might think to yourself: “well, I don’t want to set high expectations, and the offer is already generous, so I ought to just take it.

No. Negotiate.

Or maybe: “I don’t want to start off on the wrong foot and look greedy with my future employer.

No. Negotiate.

“But this company is small and — “

No. Negotiate. Negotiate. Negotiate.


But where do I start? And how do I negotiate?

Fair question. And one that we will come back to on a later blog, but here’s the crux of the matter: how much does the job mean to you and how do you feel about the company? Just because you had your heart set on this company originally, where you now have your offer, it doesn’t mean that it’s definitely the right fit for you.

Do not fall into the trap of valuing companies solely along one dimension. That means don’t just value companies based on salary, equity, or even on prestige. Those are all important dimensions, but so are cultural fit, the challenge of the work, learning potential, later career options, quality of life, growth potential, and just overall happiness. None of these inherently trump any of the other. Anyone who tells you “just choose wherever you think you’ll be happiest” is being just as simplistic as someone who says “just choose the one that offers the most money.” All of these things matter, and your decision should be genuinely multi-dimensional.

Be open to being surprised as you explore different companies.

It’s also important to understand that companies don’t all value you along the same dimension either. That is, different companies are genuinely looking for different skills, and there are some companies at which you will be more and less valuable. Even at peer companies this is true, especially so if you have a specialized skill-set.

The more companies you talk to, the more likely you are to find a company to which you are significantly more valuable than the rest. Chances are this is where you’ll be able to negotiate your strongest offer. It might surprise you which company this turns out to be; keep an open mind, and remember that a job search is a 2-sided process.

Here’s how to keep your team happy when it’s 25 degrees outside


Ever notice how hot and sunny weather can hit productivity and increase sickness absence? The human body is not designed to work in sustained high temperatures and lethargy can easily creep in to the working day, particularly if businesses aren’t flexible when hot days set in over the summer.

Here’s our top tips for maintaining attendance and performance in your team:

Plan ahead

Most businesses don’t test their fans and air conditioning until a hot spell arrives – but how do you know they will still work if they’ve been stored since last summer?  Be smart and test your systems in the Spring.

Know the rules

We’ve all heard the temperature myths from time to time – ‘if it goes above 25 degrees you are supposed to send us home’! Not so fast: The Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 says that your employer must maintain a reasonable temperature where you work, but it does not specify a maximum temperature. There is, however a minimum temperature of 16°C, or 13°C if your work involves considerable physical activity.

Hydrate your workforce

In hot weather, it is important to make sure your staff have access to cold drinks. Hydration is crucial to happy, healthy staff, so consider giving staff extra breaks to rehydrate if they are not allowed to drink at their desk, or consider relaxing that rule for water.

Relax the dress code

Even where business dress is important, relaxing the dress code a little in hot weather will make staff more comfortable and therefore more productive. Think about short sleeved shirts and no ties. Customers will understand as they will also be suffering.

Small gestures go a long way

If there’s one way to get your team going, it’s free canned drinks, strawberries or even ice creams. Give your leaders a small budget now and again and these little gestures will go a really long way.

Introduce flexibility

Offering flexible start and finish times will help staff avoid stifling heat while commuting at busier times.  You might even permit home working for those staff who are able.  If, however, you do this, make sure everyone is aware of who is working, where and when and make sure sickness absence and staff holiday is still both accrued and deducted for remote workers.

The key to all the above is engagement. There’s no point in offering things to your employees if the team does not want them. Ask your staff what would make them happier and find the right balance. A happy team is a productive team, which offers a win/win for employers and employees.

3 tips every developer shouldn’t forget in their job hunt

In the stress and worry of finding a job, it’s so easy to lose track of the obvious things that will make you stand out in the developer and tech job markets.

Here are 3 of the best tips to help you stand out from the crowd:

1) Seek to LEARN, not just to EARN

It can be easy to use income as the decider between different companies, however, don’t forget that your career is a long-term objective. There is so much more to a job than just the paycheque and making this mistake early in your career could be costly in the long run.

The most important thing to look for as a developer is: the opportunity to learn.

Why? The market rewards those who have expertise, skills and have taken responsibility.

If you accept a job with a slightly higher paying salary with little opportunity to learn — this could prolong your career progress. Don’t forget to play the long game.

2) Tell your story

If you’re going into a job interview not really knowing why you want the job, other than you didn’t like your last one and you need more money, you’re unlikely to excite any hiring managers.

However, your purpose and your drive are the real reasons that companies will want to hire you. Start with the why and then explain the what.

Let’s put that in the context of your LinkedIn Profile, or your portfolio headline:

“I am an [insert language] software developer” — This is just the what part. It’s dry. It’s uninspiring. It starts and ends with what, but not why.

“I help companies deliver their digital marketing strategy, easier and cheaper. I enjoy networking in the tech community and I like to learn every single day.”

This headline has far more power when it starts with the why.

3) Put the company first in your pitch

When you’re on the job hunt, it can really be easy to put yourself first, thinking of all the things you need: money, security, a nice commute, comfy offices, a decent salary etc.

However, don’t forget that your potential new job is a two-way street and your employer will want just as much from you as you will from them. By hiring you, the company has a clear goal — it’s your job to work out why they want to hire you, and give it to them.

In the context of a cover letter, outline what you think their problem is— and show how you are the perfect solution.

Here’s a slightly contrived example:

“My name is Alex. I know your company has been seeing growth over the last year. I understand this is a critical time for you to be ensuring you achieve the best product to fit your market. Having a flexible application that allows you to test your hypothesis and ideas to find the right features to delight your customers will I’m sure be a high priority. My background of building Javascript, CSS and HTML applications will allow me to create the flexible application you require to test your ideas and get your product to market with huge value to your customers”

Think about what the employer wants — then give it to them! Of course, this will take some guess work, but most of the information you need should be obvious in the job description.

Remember to keep look for great opportunities to learn, double down on your why and focus on delivering what they company needs in order to give yourself the best chance of standing out.

5 tips to help you create a decent work-life balance

Can’t switch off after work, or even on weekends? Restless? Anxious? Thoughts endlessly going round in your head?

Here’s a few tips to help you stay healthy and productive when you need to be:

Make time

Relaxation may seem like indulgence - almost a taboo in our fast-paced 24/7 society - when in reality it should be part of a healthy lifestyle. Relaxation is just as important as eating healthily, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep, especially when you are building your career, as well as trying to have a family and social life.

Dedicating time for yourself is so important and will help you be productive at work and reduce your stress levels. Taking time away from your desk at regular intervals and turning off your phone at night can help switch your mind.

Get physical

When we are under pressure, our body produces stress hormones, mainly adrenaline and cortisol. Stress hormones are designed to help you deal with danger by running away or fighting. That is why physical activity is the best way to get rid of them and feel more at ease again. It does not really matter what you do: Walking, running, cycling, swimming, yoga, playing football or tennis, any exercise will help you unwind.

If you can’t make time for lots of physical exercise, a simple lunchtime walk in an open space is still proven to help you manage your adrenaline levels.

Use your holidays

With the statutory UK holiday entitlement being only 28 days per year, you would think everyone would be rushing to use every single day off they can get. But that’s not always the case! A recent survey found that a third of the UK population leave at least some of their holiday entitlement on the table every year.

Your relationships, health and work-life balance suffer if you don’t use those days. Of the survey respondents who were absent for non-holiday reasons, 16% of respondents missed work for 21 days or more, while a further 26% took between 6 and 20 days off. So, don’t try to be a superhero and work 365 days per year. Take those holidays and put them to good use. You’ve earned them.

Be creative

Whether it is composing or carpentry, painting or playing the piano, being creative has a relaxing effect on the mind and body. A 2015 study showed that this is likely because you have to concentrate on what you are doing and because it feels good to be absorbed in an activity you are enjoying.

Learn a relaxation technique

The ultimate way to relax is to clear the mind – and a lot of us find this really difficult! Relaxation techniques are generally routines, which induce a tranquil state of mind. Popular techniques include; meditation, breathing techniques, progressive muscle relaxation, autogenic training and mindfulness exercises.

If you are stuck for where to start with these types of activities, there are now some really great mobile apps, such as Headspace, which guide you through the process in your own time.


How to build a successful email marketing database that delivers

The first and obvious step to developing a successful email marketing strategy starts with building a quality contact list - but don’t just think of your database as names on a spreadsheet. Your list could potentially generate thousands of pounds worth of income.

Quality over quantity

It’s easy to assume that the more contacts you have, the more likely it is that you’ll achieve results. But, in reality, the opposite is true. You need your database to be filled with people who have an interest in your business. If nobody is interested, your list won’t convert. By having a quality database, full of engaged customers, you might be able to entice your readers to make an enquiry or spend their hard-earned pennies.

Engage, engage, engage

The key to achieving a quality list is to first engage customers on a one-to-one basis, or ideally in person. Subsequently, you should then build upon your customer’s positive experience and ask if you can continue your conversation over email. The more information you have on your customer (interests, recent purchases, requirements), the more able you can be in tailoring content and offers to suit their needs.

Here’s some ideas to attract sign-ups:

·         Ask for sign-ups at the end of a transaction. Your customers are more likely to want to find out more after they’ve already done business with you.

·         Insert a link in your email signature and social media bios so customers can automatically subscribe. Avoid forcing customers to fill out long forms and questionnaires.

·         Add a sign-up form on your Facebook page.

·         Create a “reasons to sign up page,” featuring feedback from customers and post it on your website.

·         Include a text-to-join feature so people can easily sign up through their smartphone.

·         Include multiple sign-up forms on your website (and not just on the footer). More forms generally equals more sign-ups.

·         Entice your subscribers by giving something back. What offers or materials could be valuable to your customers? Perhaps a discount or a free eBook?

Keeping hold of your audience

Getting someone to give you an email address is only one part of building a contact list. Once you have subscribers, you need to find a way to hold on to them. If you’re not sending out interesting content, your database can soon deplete via the dreaded 'unsubscribes' if you’re not careful. Ensure your tailoring your content as much as possible. Every single reader will be different, so sending the same email to everyone is unlikely to achieve results.

But how many emails should you send? The advice is to find a good balance. You should be sure that you are sending out enough emails so your subscribers don't forget who you are, but not too many that you are bothering them. Once per month is usually a good starting point, as a minimum (industry dependent).

In summary, it all comes down to your messaging. The more you can engage your subscribers with information they're interested in, the more likely you are to build a database that will deliver.

ESA Group strengthens its management team

Recruitment and head-hunting firm, ESA Group, appoints an operations manager to bolster its senior management and sales teams. Valerie George joins the business as it continues to go from strength to strength. The company recently located to Edgbaston due to considerable growth during 2016.

Valerie George has worked in operations since 2006, having managed large teams at both OGL Computer Services and Yell.

She has over 15 years of sales experience and is an expert in training, coaching and performance management.

Director, Dan Heathcote said: “I am very pleased to be able to welcome Valerie to the ESA Group family. We are currently seeing great potential in the Midlands job market and the addition of Miss George to senior management will help us to grow business over the coming years.

“It is important for us to keep investing in the team and to provide support for career development. Our talented recruitment consultants are the life-blood of the company and we are keen to help them progress.

“Valerie joins us at a really exciting time as we look to build on our recent successes and client wins.”

ESA Group specialises in marketing, human resources, technology and sales roles across the Midlands and plans to add another four staff to its workforce in the next twelve months.

Dan Heathcote concluded: “The Birmingham job market is very buoyant at the moment; particularly in the technology sector. We are looking forward to seeing what the next twelve months brings to the area.”