If you’re looking for ways to snag that job you’ve been eyeing up on LinkedIn, or wanting to improve your interview techniques, we’ve got your back.

Sometimes interviews can be daunting and if you really want the job, you’ll be especially nervous. But don’t worry, we’ve collated some great advice from one of our successful Salford graduates that might help you grab your dream job!

We spoke with Salford graduate Lee Hull who was the Managing Director of Business Direct at our industry partner, TalkTalk.

Lee graduated in 1997 and has managed to create a successful career in the telecommunications and business sectors, where he has recently been appointed as Chief Executive at business services provider, Verastar.

While studying at Salford, Lee benefited from all that the University had to offer. He spent time working as a sabbatical officer for the Students’ Union, as well as being the editor of the student newspaper, Student Direct. He still maintains a close connection with the University as a trustee of the SU.

We met with Lee a few weeks ago while he was still with TalkTalk, to ask how our graduates can increase their employability chances.

“It might be easier to find jobs now, with LinkedIn, social media and all the employment sites we have, but it’s not necessarily easier to get a job. Here’s my advice for recent graduates”

Tip 1 – Be genuine and actually like the company you want to join

“My advice to anybody who is a graduate looking for a job, is to try and find an organisation that you like, and that aligns to your values aligned. It’s really important. When I’m recruiting, the education side is important but I’m also interested in people’s values and their drive.

“The interview process is two-ways, you’ve got to make sure that the organisation you’re joining is a good fit for you, so it’s really important to be authentic during an interview process. If you say you’re passionate about things you’re genuinely not passionate about and you end up going to work in that organisation, that won’t end well.”

Tip 2 – Do your research on the organisation

“This is something fundamental that everyone should do before an interview, do your research on the organisation. Now it’s really easy to go on a website and look up what it’s like to work at a company, what they stand for, understand their products and services at least a little bit.

“Make sure you go on LinkedIn and look at who’s interviewing you and their background. You don’t have to completely digitally stalk them but definitely utilise LinkedIn. I’d be disappointed if people come to an interview now, especially if they’re a graduate who has worked for a year or taken a break for a year, if they hadn’t taken a look into LinkedIn and looked into my background. I’d be worried.

“I will often ask candidates what they know about me, and it’s not an ego thing, but it’s to make sure they’ve done some research, because if they’re not going to do easy research into me digitally, then they’re probably not going to put much effort into the job.”

Tip 3 – Come prepared

“I did a graduate assessment six months ago, with around 70 graduates over two assessment days. We made ten or eleven job offers when we were only planning to make eight.

“I’d say 50% of the candidates turned up without a pen or a pad, and I find that quite remarkable, that you wouldn’t come with some notes for an interview. I’d say a good proportion of the ones that got the jobs were the ones with the pads and the notes because they’ll have done their research.”

Tip 4 – Stay curious

“Curiosity is a really important behaviour, right throughout your career in business, being curious about other people, other business, other products, other competitors, curiosity is a really really good quality to have.

“You should always come to your interview with a couple of questions to ask your interviewers. It shows you’ve thought about the role and have taken interest in the company. You’d be amazed at the number of people who don’t do this.”

Tip 5 – Don’t lose hope, there’s a job out there for you!

“It feels like a recruiters market at the minute, with high demand for jobs., A year ago graduates had a lot of choice, so you had to be very competitive on how you sourced those graduates. Due to the pandemic, it’s going to be a hard twelve months for everybody, for businesses, for graduates, but there are lots of opportunities out there, especially on the tech side.

“There will be lots of jobs, but it will be a turbulent few months.”

Lee’s final words of advice:

“What I would say to graduates is, I’ve done bar jobs, I’ve done factory jobs, all of that type of stuff and there’s nothing wrong with that, especially in the short term, don’t be too proud.

“You’re better off working, doing a bar job, factory job than sat in a flat not enjoying yourself. If the job market is tough for some people then do anything, do a small job, get some money and experience, do something you enjoy, things will pick up over time.

“Employers will always want graduates, always. You have to be professional, but you can still have fun and enjoy it.

 “Get a job you love and you’ll never have to work a day in your life” is a famous saying. Of the 23 years I’ve worked I’ve probably enjoyed 21 of them, I’ve gone to bed with a spring in my step. You’re not always going to love everything.

“There are always going to be challenging moments, but persevere and don’t quit when things get hard.”

We hope that Lee’s brilliant tips will help increase your employability and help you get the graduate job that you’ve been hoping for.                   

TalkTalk currently have vacancies to fill in a range of positions, from software developers and network engineers to financial controllers and marketing executives. If you’re interested in a working environment where you can be yourself and give everything, take a look at their careers website for the latest vacancies: careers.talktalk.co.uk