Grads, get a head-start on the 9-5 with these life tips

With the end of your University career in touching distance, now is the time to think about making some minor life adjustments from those late nights and lie-ins to ease you into the daily grind.

The working world can come as a bit of a shock when you are used to life on your own schedule. After all, there is no skipping your 9am when you have a team relying on you. As you enter the world of work, your aim should be to make the minor adjustments that enable you to ensure you remain productive and proactive. To help you achieve that, we have thought about some top tips to help you out:


1.    Get prepared 

Whether you have a job lined up or not, getting into the 9-5 routine early on will make the transition much smoother. Remember, looking for that first role out of University is a job in itself. By sticking to a routine and getting into the right frame of mind early on will make your first few weeks that little bit easier.


2.    Assume the mindset

As you enter the working world, you will be surprised how far you will go by maintaining a positive and proactive mindset. By being open to feedback, remaining flexible and resilient to failure, you will find yourself progressing into the working world much more successfully. 


3.    Research the culture

Do what you can you investigate the culture at your new place of work. Tools like Glassdoor and LinkedIn as well as asking the right questions in your interview can really help give you an inside look at the culture in your new office. Make sure it’s a right fit for you, and ahead of your first day, think about how you can involve yourself and contribute.


4.    Rest up!

It may seem simple, but getting into a healthy sleep routine can really make a difference when it comes to cognitive performance, boosting short-term memory, and just generally feeling perkier! So switch up the party lifestyle sooner rather than later to ensure you hit the ground running in your new role.


5.    Reward yourself 

While you should be keen to make an impact in your first role, you should also remember to make time for yourself. Whichever way you let your hair down, make sure you leave time for it in your week – you may need to be more structured with your day, but that doesn’t mean it’s all work and no play. 

Making the transition from University to the working world is rich with fresh challenges and experiences to navigate, by keeping these tips in mind when embarking on this journey you will set yourself up for success. It is an exciting time and the start of potentially one of the most significant adventures of your life!

To find out about the latest career opportunities with ESA Group, keep an eye on our blog and LinkedIn page.

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.


6 things you should remember to help you master your interview

If you’re lucky enough to be offered an interview, then you’ve probably worked hard to get this far. Your brilliant CV has obviously captured the attention of the hiring manager – congrats! You are well on your way to getting your dream job.

However, don’t rest on your laurels. There is still some prep to do. But where do you start? And how will you ensure you present yourself in the best light? What happens if you fluff it up? It’s very easy to work yourself into a sweat before getting in front of what could potentially be your next boss.

Here are our top 6 things to remember:

The more prep you do, the more likely you’ll get the job

We’ve all heard that before you interview, you should do some research into the company, study their website and job description, familiarise yourself with the job functions etc. But, you might want to go above and beyond to make an impression. If there are multiple candidates being interviewed, what can you do to stand out from the crowd? Can you find out more about your interviewer’s job history? What are the company’s financials like? Have they been in the press lately? Do as much as you can to put yourself in the best light.

Interviewers want to find out more about you

The hiring manager must have read your CV, otherwise you wouldn’t have been invited in. It’s clear they think that you have the potential to do the job and contribute to the success of their business. So, keep reminding yourself that you should be here and you could get the job. You didn’t get the interview because they want to be nice.

Interviewers want you to do well

Many of us assume that a job interview is a test, which we’ll be lucky to pass. Your palms might sweat or you might get flustered answering simple questions.

Whilst, the interview is a test, step back and remember that interviews aren’t like most exams. Your interviewer will actually want you to do well. They don’t want you to waste their time as their vacancy needs to be filled. A few tummy flutters are no bad thing – this usually means the interview actually matters to you – but hiring managers have no interest in putting you down or dashing your confidence. If they ask tricky questions, they aren’t trying to catch you out, they just need to know that they’re making the right decision in hiring you.

The interview is about you, not them

You’re going to be asked A LOT of questions, so don’t be afraid to talk about yourself. The more you can express your personality and convince your hiring manager that you want the job, can do the job, and want to join the team, the more you’ll win them over. You should talk about how you can contribute to the company’s success, not just that you need the money and want to get a foot in the door.

The interview is more like a date than a pitch

While it’s important to sell yourself in a job interview, an overly “salesy” mindset can come across as desperate, or sometimes arrogant. Think of your interview as more like a date. The interview is an opportunity for each of you to confirm mutual interest and determine whether or not that interest merits taking things to the next level. Communicate your interest and put your best foot forward, but do not oversell.

Desperation is never attractive on a date and certainly not in a job interview. Similarly, don’t forget to listen and express interest in the other person. Prepare thoughtful questions and engage in meaningful conversations where possible!

Be honest and be yourself

Your best answer to any question should really be one that you arrived at organically. By all means; arm yourself with some answers to common interview questions, but it’s unwise to put on a persona or be who you aren’t. The interview isn’t a game, so it’s best not to treat it as such. Those who do, rarely win – and if they do, they won’t last very long.

Viewed at its most essential, a job interview is just a chat between two potential colleagues or partners. It’s an opportunity to learn, share ideas and expand your network. Done properly, could it even be fun?!


How to make the most of your marketing plan on a limited budget

Creating an effective marketing plan can be a conundrum for many small business owners, particularly when the budget is on a real shoestring. As a business owner, you’ll need to work out which activities will draw the most amount of leads for the least amount of your precious pounds.

They key to marketing success will generally be down to understanding your audience and customers. Without knowing your audience, you will struggle to market to them and to get your sales messages across. It’s also vital you don’t throw money down the drain and throw good money after bad.

Measuring ROI

Although there are endless ways to measure the results of your campaigns and decipher whether your marketing is working (or not), in its simplest form it’s wise to stick to marketing methods that work for you.

If you are consistently spending money on marketing that isn’t yielding results, then stop it immediately and review if there’s something you could change to improve your return on investment. Just because something should be ‘tried and tested’, if it’s broken and expensive, there’s little point in continuing. Nevertheless, don’t discard it forever. It might be that with a little tweak to your campaign, you’ll start winning those all-important leads.

Utilise low cost options

Channels such as social media may seem like they wouldn’t produce direct results, but if they are utilised correctly, they can be extremely cost effective.

There are so many advertising options with excellent segmentation tools available on platforms such as Facebook, that you can reach your most likely customers with relative ease. You can set yourself a daily budget and target a set number of people depending on their likes and demographic; a tool which is almost unbeatable in certain industries.

With careful monitoring, you can listen to your audience and understand what they say about a particular product or service, helping you to revise and improve your strategy and maybe even your business model.

Traditional marketing isn’t dead

Of course, whilst social is cheap when compared to Pay Per Click and advertising, there’s a reason that businesses are still spending millions every day using more traditional channels. Don’t ignore things like weekly emails and direct mail, just because they are viewed as ‘old hat’. Anything you can do to make yourself more visible is likely to breed success.

You are your business

If you are sitting in your office waiting for the next customer to walk in or ring up, you may be waiting a long time. Your marketing plan needs to revolve around your skills and expertise.

Showcasing your talents becomes a lot easier when you are also active outside of your place of work. Joining networking groups such as BNI and your local Chamber of Commerce will do wonders to help you generate interest in your business. Your customers are far more likely to be engaged when they speak to you directly about what you do and why you do it, rather than reading your emails or watching your ads.

Top 5 recruiting tips for SMEs


It’s likely that virtually all hiring managers have had a similar problem at some point in their careers: attracting the perfect candidate for a new job vacancy that they are desperate to fill. This challenge can be exacerbated for those at smaller companies, who may find that they are losing out to bigger brand names when looking for the best talent.

For the majority of people looking for a new job, it’s expected that they’ll want to work for a business they’ve heard of. This is because, ultimately, people need job security. And bigger companies are perceived to be more secure than smaller ones.

However, there are lots of people out there who would prefer to work for a smaller business, and not just because of it might be less ‘corporate.’

Here’s our five top tips for attracting (and retaining) the people you need in your business:

1. Find out what the going rate is for the position and match it.

It might sound like a simple tip, but a common mistake that small businesses often make when creating a position, is to base the salary on their budget, rather than on the market. If you want the best people, they are almost guaranteed to chase the best salaries. So, make sure the salary you are offering is going to be enticing to potential applicants.

2. Offer an employee benefit program.

It’s surprising how often candidates will have multiple job offers on the table at the same time – especially if they are experts in a niche industry. In these times, an employee benefit program can move from a candidate’s wish list to their necessity list. Core employee benefits such as medical, dental and life insurance can really make your business attractive to a job hunter, particularly if your competitor isn’t offering the same deal.

3. Be creative with your perks.

Employees are usually just as concerned about the quality of their work life as they are about the amount of money they receive each month.

As a small business, you may not be able to offer the perks that larger companies can – but you may be able to offer decent alternatives. E.g. where a big corporate is offering an on-site gym, could you offer local gym membership?

4. Offer employees progression.

Most employees aren't looking for jobs where they’ll do the same thing for the next thirty years. They're looking for positions that offer opportunities for advancement.

Are you offering staff training programs? Or a clear pathway to progression and higher earnings? Whatever it is, in terms of attracting employees, be sure to get the future possibilities on the table.

5. Widen the scope of your advertising.

The days of placing a small job ad in a newspaper are long gone. You’ll receive a better response to your advert if it’s visible in more places. Recruiters such as ourselves can help do this for you, but if you don’t want to use a recruiter, it’s vital that you make an investment to advertise on large job boards and consider advertising on social platforms such as LinkedIn.

If you’d like to hear more, email Dan Heathcote at