Midlands in demand, the regions most sought after skills


As you may have seen in our recent state of the market report, the West Midlands is a terrific place to do business right now. The region boasts a vibrant business community which continues to generate a huge demand for talent, opening up a range of exciting opportunities for those thinking about a new role.

So what are the top skills these businesses are seeking?

The past few years have seen just under 12,000 new tech companies established in the UK. The Midlands accounts for around 1,000 of these businesses alone, and has the biggest community of startups outside of the capital. 

With this burgeoning community, comes an insatiable demand for talent. According to a recent report from Stack Overflow, the West Midlands is home to the largest community of software developers outside of London, a group that is only expected to continue growing!

As the tech sector continues to expand in the area, this demand for talent isn’t in danger of abating anytime soon.

At ESA Group, we see a significant demand for the following skills from the companies we work within this sector:


•    Software Development

•    UX Design

•    Product Management


As well as technical roles, the significance of the West Midlands as a place to do business means that skills in marketing and business growth remain high in demand. As the business community in the Midlands continues to grow, we are dealing with more businesses searching for skilled talent in the following areas:


•    CRM Management

•    Campaign Management

•    Paid Search


It is clear that the region is a really exciting place to be doing business at the moment, and the demand for skilled talent is representative of that. With the wealth of opportunity for those looking for their next role, there needn’t be any need to look much further than the West Midlands for your next position.

If you are seeking a new opportunity, why not take a look at the range of roles we are currently hiring for?

Looking after your recruitment staff


It has been proven that there is a strong link between employee engagement and productivity. Employers must prioritise certain approaches to office life that can help motivate employees and make them feel valued within the company. There are a variety of ways you can look after your team, from a change in management style to office perks/ incentives, here, we explore some suggestions that could boost morale in your office  

Encourage an open idea space 

Encourage your consultants, from junior to senior, to be open and expressive about business ideas. By adopting and encouraging the use of an open idea space, it outlines room for a diverse range of opinions, ideas and perspectives to flow. 

By building regular brainstorm sessions in to the weekly or monthly office rhythm you’ll create a culture of open engagement that will allow your team and their ideas to feel valued. The more regular and encouraging the sessions, the more likely those who may be hesitant to contribute will build their confidence, unlocking their potential. 

A culture of open engagement depends on employees feeling that they can speak and be heard, therefore actively test out these ideas and see what works or what could be improved upon. 


Recognise your staff’s successes 

Recent research has found that 72% of engaged employees believe that recognition for good work impacts their motivation. Simple acknowledgments have massive impacts on an individual’s attitude, it is important as an employer that you know how to encourage your staff to improve company performance.  

Recognise staff for their work, give them the right tools to do their job, encourage personal development and ensure that your employees understand what is expected of them at work. 

Rewards for a job well done can be as simple as calling out examples of great work or as extravagant as incentive practices like cash incentives, or experiences. Feedback should be offered when an individual improves in an area they previously had difficulty with, encouraging them to learn from constructive feedback. 

It can also help highlight the types of skills that are appreciated, and behaviour that should be replicated. While recognising your staff’s successes often starts at management level, it should be encouraged amongst the whole team to share positive feedback with each other.


Offer company perks 

It is reported that more than a third of employees admit that company benefits are amongst their top considerations before taking a job. Attitudes to work-life balance are beginning to influence employees’ perceptions and eagerness to work.  

By offering social perks like pub Fridays and free lunches, you create a more social atmosphere in the office that encourages communication between team members and demonstrates a consideration for company wellbeing. 

Office perks don’t need to be big lavish expensive occasions, simply offering flexible working hours can make a big difference. Whether its late starts, early finishes, working from home or hot-desking, allowing your employees to find a rhythm that works best for them will encourage motivation and productivity.  

Invest in their training

Investing in your team’s training benefits both the employee and the company. Offering employee development programmes as part of your perks and benefit schemes is a good way to attract candidates to your organisation, rather than your competitors. 

When a company invests in training and development, employees feel valued and appreciated. This makes them more loyal, making them more likely to refer skilled friends and colleagues to the company and be more engaged and motivated in their work. 

By taking this step to invest in your employees, they will invest in you, in making efforts to grow and develop within the company. 

Create opportunities for new experiences

Pay attention and accommodate when an employee shows an interest in different aspects of the business. This will offer employees a rounded perception of how the company is run, benefiting them in the long term as they rise up to more senior positions. By exposing employees to different opportunities, you will help build their confidence in their own role, becoming more adept to what the business offers its clients. 

Create a comfortable environment 

Making small changes to an office’s environment can strongly influence your team’s motivation and energy levels. Working in clean, attractive offices can have tremendous effects on co-worker relationships and productivity. Ensure office furniture is comfortable and supportive, preventing long term injuries like back pain/ bad posture. 

Lighting also plays a vital role in workers’ performance and attitude, exposure to natural light will improve mood and energy, greatly impacting focus and productivity. If it’s not possible to incorporate natural light through windows, consider alternative options like blue-enriched light bulbs that can reduce fatigue and use warmer toned bulbs to promote calmness and relaxation in break rooms. 

The key to a successful business is happy employees. By prioritising their needs, ensuring that they feel valued and respected, and encouraging their development you will naturally find your employees more engaged and motivated in their work. Look after your staff and they will look after you.    

How to build a marketing / digital portfolio


Portfolios are the perfect way to arrange your work in one organised showcase to demonstrate your skill set. By collating your most effective campaigns you can communicate your ability to tell stories across multiple platforms, imperative for any modern marketing professional. 

When applying for positions in the marketing and digital industry it is essential that you can demonstrate your skill set and talents to prospective employers for them to feel confident investing in you. So, here are a few suggestions of how you can present your work in a portfolio.


Assemble your content

Before you begin to collate the examples you wish to showcase, try and make efforts to understand what you want others to see. You should be selective about what you include, ensuring that they best demonstrate your talent and experience. The work you choose to include should be representative of the kind of work you want to be hired to produce. Rank all of your work in terms of how impressive they are and select the very best projects, or choose a handful of projects that each show off a different service or skill. The work should support the qualifications listed elsewhere in your application and focus on what would appeal to the clients you want to work with. 


Research the company

Clarify your professional aspiration and then build your portfolio with a specific audience or position in mind. Familiarise yourself with the companies you would like to work with and make a note of their overall presence, including their website, social media channels, news coverage and audience demographics. This will help you adjust your portfolio to suit their interests, along with aiding you in bringing prospective ideas to the interview. 


Some of your work confidential?

Unable to share you work outside your client relationship? You can usually get around this obstacle by describing the project in generic terms. Refer to clients elusively with ‘B2B’ or ‘B2C’ terms and write up mock versions for visual evidence. If it was a particularly successful campaign, be sure to refer to the most impressive metrics, without revealing the identity of your client.


Show off your talents 

Showcase the work you are both proud of and feel the most confident in discussing. Show relevancy and curiosity tied to your talent, hard work and skill set. Develop samples so they appear stronger and more impressive to an outside viewer and approach your work with a critical eye. You want to be presenting yourself as their ideal candidate and being able to work constructively on your own work will prove your ability and strive to improve to higher standards as you become more qualified/ experienced. 


Tell your story

Employers want to see you demonstrate your ability to tell a story and interact online. Keep it simple, present your projects in a straightforward format, emphasising the visual so that the reader does not feel overwhelmed by information. Allow the reader to navigate easily from project to project, category to category. Categories demonstrate your range and differentiates say your written work from campaign successes, thus spotlighting your various capabilities. Incorporate your personality into the portfolio by providing a description about yourself that includes your background, how you work, your likes and interests. This will enable your employer to see you as a well rounded person rather than a set of skills.

Midlands Tech Industry: state of the market report


London often takes priority when it comes to attracting the latest digital talent, but with the cost of living rising, many young professionals are finding it difficult to afford working in the UK capital. While London may be the heart of Britain’s technology industry, it isn’t the only hub for thriving tech companies. 

In recent years, the Midlands has proven itself to be a heavyweight contender against the big smoke, and now proudly boasts over 13,500 tech businesses. However, because of the gravitational pull of London, the region’s brightest and best have an opportunity - as there is currently a recruitment gap of 2.8 unfilled vacancies for every 100 available jobs. This gap mainly arises from the demand for technical skills increasing faster than businesses or schools can develop them, so there’s definitely space for those who can tick these boxes to be successful.

The Midlands tech industry is booming, with start-up businesses joining more established tech firms like UNiDAYS in Nottingham. With the reduced cost of living offering a more comfortable lifestyle than in the capital, we explain why the Midlands should be the go-to location for tech wizards.


Job opportunities and common roles

The West Midlands has been booming in recent years, with opportunities sprouting up every minute for small business owners to make a name for themselves in the market. Figures show that for every 10,000 people in the region, 58 new businesses appeared, taking the West Midlands to 165,045 active small businesses overall.

In 2017, this number grew to 30,735 active enterprises for the West Midlands, while the East saw 22,565 new business births.

Because of this surge, a record number of jobs were created – 1.9 million to be exact– boosting the region’s growth rate to 3.1% - three times higher than England’s average rate. 

Among the mass of new jobs, some of the most common roles to be advertised were leadership and management positions. This is down to many businesses struggling to dedicate time for in-house training to develop existing employee’s leadership skills.

For the East Midlands, job creation has remained at an all-time high for the last few years, despite 69% of profitable businesses claiming the region’s talent pool to be ‘lacking’. With over 200 firms creating new jobs every year by an average of 28%, the region saw over 40,000 new careers in the last three years.

In comparison to the rest of the UK, the West Midlands has seen a high rate of vacancies, with 10.8% above the UK average. The East Midlands on the other hand, sits in the middle, with a rate of 2.3% below the average. In terms of industry, manufacturing, services and retail sectors are the ones with the highest demand for new talent.


Companies and tech adoption

Over the past couple of years, there have been 11,864 new tech companies established in the UK– the Midlands made up around a thousand of those, with 422 software development and programming business appearing in the East, and 563 in the West. 

Alongside the start-up businesses, tech giants have recently invested in the area including the 5G testbed set to arrive in the West Midlands.

Those interested in the gaming industry will also be happy to hear that 13% of the UK’s games start in the East and West Midlands with notable favourites like Tomb Raid, Banjo Kazooie and Sea of Theives originating from Derby and Leicester.


Salary insights

When it comes down to it, many of our career decisions revolve around salary – but just looking at the numbers won’t give you a complete picture. While London may offer a more attractive salary, the cost of living is much higher than the Midlands, with rent, dining out and even a pint of milk costing much more with a London label. Recent studies also showed that over 75% of employees working in the Midlands between 2017 and 2018 were earning more than the national living wage, allowing for a much more comfortable lifestyle.

To help put it into perspective, this is how the salaries and cost of living differ across the UK.

Average salaries 


Average cost of living



Nowhere in the world is perfect, and while the Midlands is currently booming, tech geniuses will find a few things to overcome when considering the move. Cities around the Midlands may have plenty to offer graduates from the region’s top-performing universities – but employers know they have to work hard if they are to sway them away from London or encourage those from outside the area to relocate.

Leaders and business owners also appear to be more meticulous about who they hire in recent years, seeking out individuals with strong technical skills and experience. 

This means business owners are less likely to choose ‘wildcards’ than they were a couple of years back – but this doesn’t mean young professionals do not stand a chance. There are plenty of small business owners as well as digital giants that are searching for a personality match, so there is plenty of hope. 

Overall, the region is proving itself to be a worthy contestant against the digital capital. With more enterprises opening in the Midlands, a bigger business environment is being created, which is helping to attract the latest talent. While big cities in the Midlands usually can’t stand up against the numbers game in terms of salary, they definitely can when you compare the cost of living, something London struggles against. 

If you are searching for a role in the tech industry, our advice is to look outside of London, and consider the cities that are growing their names. Many places like Nottingham and Birmingham have small, but thriving tech and will prove to be the perfect way up the career ladder for those technically talented.

For more information about the state of the market in the Midlands, contact us: info@esa-group.co.uk.

Perks of the job


It is reported that more than a third of employees admit that company perks and benefits are amongst their top considerations before taking a job. For example, creative agencies in the marketing and digital world are currently pushing the work life balance boundaries, investing more in employees’ health and wellbeing and encouraging fun. 

Here are a few things we’ve seen advertised for senior level digital and marketing roles through ESA Group.

Social perks

Pub Fridays, free lunches and creative corners have become staple accessories in offices all over the UK, with some companies even installing bars in the office itself! By creating a more social atmosphere in the office it nurtures better communication between team members, breaking down the co-worker walls, enabling people to communicate freely in the office environment, encouraging idea brainstorms and building stronger relationships. Regular staff events such as meals out, activity training days and Friday drinks have become a key attribute to office life and are regularly touted as perks within the roles we recruit for. 

Flexible working hours

Not a fan of the 9 to 5 day-in day-out? Many marketing roles let you take control over how you structure your week. Whether it’s late starts, early finishes, part-time, working from home, job sharing or hot-desking, there are loads of options to suit you. A recent survey found only 14% of marketing professionals worked for companies who didn’t currently offer flexible working hours. With the marketing industry prioritising creative productivity, you could negotiate a schedule that works for you and this is certainly something we’ve seen advertised. 



Annual leave allowance is a staple perk of any business, however many companies are no longer opting for the set 28 days paid leave for their marketing employees. From unlimited holiday days to paid sabbaticals, businesses are working hard and playing hard. We’ve even seen some companies take their staff on annual month long, five-star holidays to locations like Goa, Buenos Aires and Thailand. Embracing the geographic flexibility which is a staple for digital and marketing roles, they promote coinciding work and travel. 

Health and wellbeing perks 

Discounted gym memberships, organic lunches and office smoothie bars are amongst some of the perks being incorporated by offices to invest in staff’s physical and mental health and wellbeing. Some brands promote their employees’ health and wellbeing by providing free, healthy breakfast and fruit everyday along with weekly sports massages, whilst the ESA Group office includes a gym that is accessible to all team members. Endorphins created by exercise are vital for fuelling creativity, therefore it is encouraged for staff to get a sweat on before work, during lunch or on their way home. 


Could you be influenced by additional perks? Are ‘bring your pup to work days’ and in-office cocktail master classes your dream work environments? With plenty of other perks and benefits that are unique to each company, you are sure to find the best marketing role that fits you. 

To find out more on how we can help you land your dream marketing or digital role, visit www.esa-group.co.uk

Top tech cities for those looking to leave London behind

As the largest and fastest growing tech hub in the UK, London may seem like the only option for those interested in a career in digital. However, with the big smoke becoming increasingly unaffordable for young professionals, it is understandable why so many are venturing to other booming tech cities in the UK. To help, we have selected the top tech cities for those looking to leave London behind.

1. Manchester

CBRE claims that Manchester is in fact the UK’s top tech city, with the largest number of tech businesses, average salaries of over £47,000 and its digital sector is worth £2.9 billion. Manchester is the ideal location for those looking to specialise in media thanks to it being home to Media City, a 200-acre development which houses the BBC and ITV studios.

Something to consider is that Manchester’s growth rate is 10% slower than our very own Birmingham’s. Therefore, it is possibly not the preferred location for young professionals who are searching for the most prosperous hub.

2. Bristol and Bath

With over 35,000 people working in tech, Bristol and Bath are another two of the UK’s booming hubs. Bristol is home to the country’s largest robotics lab BRL, and Rocketmakers, an award-winning tech design company (their clients include Microsoft and O2), is located in Bath.

Despite the average salary for tech workers in Bristol and Bath surpassing £47,000, the cost of living (£740 average rent for a 1 bed flat) is steeper than in Birmingham (£638) and Manchester (£634) – but it’s still cheaper than London!

3. Birmingham

According to recent data from Monster.co.uk, Birmingham is the best place outside of London to develop a career within the digital industry. The city has an industry growth rate of 33% and average salaries of over £43,000. In addition, Birmingham also has a lower cost of living than London and many South East Locations. It is therefore no surprise that more than 6,000 people left London last year to work in Birmingham’s tech industry.

Neil Rami, Chief Executive at the West Midlands Growth Company, has since added:

“[this data] reinforces Birmingham’s reputation as a world-class, burgeoning hub for tech and digital. The city has more incubators and accelerator programmes than any other city outside London, a dynamic, young talent pool and a host of unique, co-working spaces to support growing tech firms”

This data is likely to be boosted even more by security specialist, Intercity Technology. The IT giant plans to invest over £2 million into the Birmingham area within the next year, beginning with the construction of its flagship data centre. This should create some exciting opportunities!

From Leeds to Edinburgh to those listed above, there are so many thriving tech cities in the UK that are great alternatives to London. While Birmingham is our top choice, we encourage you to continue evaluating each location to determine which is most likely to fulfil your career ambitions.