Top tips from an ‘Apprentice’ – getting noticed by employers

Saira Khan, author, business owner, TV presenter and corporate speaker, was one of the first contestants on the BBC’s The Apprentice series in 2005. Saira recently shared her top tips on getting noticed by employers at the Brunel Business School’s annual Business Boot Camps for prospective BSc Business and Management students.

Saira Khan

Saira Khan (left) with Business Boot Camp attendee Misbah Ishfaq

  • Forget ‘Business’, embrace the word ‘data’ – your success is linked to how well you analyse, interpret and utilise it to create ideas and solutions – translating big data into insights and business value will be an essential skill to get to the top.
  • Do your internship in an IT company to develop data literacy – internet marketing experience will be valuable.
  • Think about how you want to make the world easier for people when choosing your business idea or career path.
  • Be honest with yourself – why are you going to university? 61.6% of students say that a degree is useful for getting a job.
  • It’s not about which university you went to – it’s about what you did at University to enhance yourself and make yourself employable.
  • At job interviews, try and think about what an employer would want in you, rather than what you can offer an employer.
  • Employers want self-confidence, self-awareness and great communication skills.
  • Be prepared at an interview – research the company, their values, and the key decisions makers and then demonstrate in the interview that you have done your homework – this will impress.
  • Have a vision for your life five years from now and then get a plan on how to achieve it.
  • Ask for feedback after the interview – ask what you did well and what you could improve on, so you are prepared for the next one, and don’t make the same mistakes.
  • Master good communication skills: body language, speaking, writing, personal presentation, questioning and LISTENING.
  • Talk the language at interviews: your competencies – the drive for results, integrity, honesty, innovation. Consider how you can demonstrate these without bragging.
  • Develop yourself: understand yourself, sell yourself, have high standards
  • Get confidence – other people can’t give you this – work outside your comfort zone to understand your strengths and development areas – this will help you to gain confidence about who you are.
  • Be proactive about everyday life. Don’t wait for things to come to you, fight for them. Don’t hound people though, do it in a nice way.
  • Sell yourself – selling yourself is about listening, ‘so what do you want to know about me?’ An employer wants to feel they could work with you.
  • Come down to people as needed. Change your tone.
  • Network. Talk about them, not business.
  • Have a spirit of excellence and high standards in your work – be known for always being on time, responding quickly and always looking presentable – 3 quick things anyone can do to create that brilliant first impression.
  • Think Education. Experience. Exposure.
  • My Life CV. Start writing your Life CV at secondary school and keep it updated, write down everything that you do outside of school – speaking a different language, working in a charity shop, playing a sport, getting recognition for something that you have achieved, being a carer, volunteering, etc – always keep this separate from your main CV and send it as a CV in its own right with your academic one to the employer.
  • Read business books – get to know the latest thinking, trends and personalities shaping the business world today.

Saira Khan is author of ‘P.U.S.H. for Success’ and founder of Miamoo naturally derived skincare products.

Brunel Business Boot Camp is an exclusive, invitation only event for candidates wishing to pursue their Business Degree in Brunel University. The Business Boot Camp is a three day, residential event with accommodation and food provided by the School for all participants. It truly is a unique opportunity for future Brunel students to be distinctive within a vibrant, innovative, and forward-looking environment.


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