Hints from HR: Mark Lulham, Manager – Talent Acquisition Australasia at Valiram

You’d be hard-pressed not to be inspired by this next edition of “Hints from HR“. Chock full of real, honest and practical advice, this interview with Mark Lulham, Valiram’s Manager of Talent Acquisition for Australasia, is like the perfect pep talk before you submit that next job application. 

From defining your “Destroy the Death Star moments” to knowing what you need to succeed, Mark’s “hints” are thought-provoking and bookmark-worthy. Read on and may the force be with you and your job search!


varilamValiram was established in 1935 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, originally specialising in the textile trade. Today, Valiram is Southeast Asia’s leading luxury goods and 360° retail specialist with presence in Australia, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Russia, Macau and Vietnam.

Operating more than 350 stores, a number which continues to grow, the group represents in excess of 200 brands across various categories, from fashion and accessories, timepieces and jewellery, perfume and cosmetics to confectionery and dining concepts. Its portfolio comprises internationally renowned brands such as Bath & Body Works, Kate Spade New York, Michael Kors, Tumi and Victoria’s Secret, as well as original and innovative retail concepts Luxury Fashion, Swiss Watch Gallery, Flying Emporium, Vie Beaute and Flow.

Meet Mark

What was your first job? 

The first job I ever had, was sweeping at a fibreglass factory. I lasted one day and never returned – it was horrible. My first career was as a Private Investigator.

How long have you worked in HR/recruitment? 

7 years – I fell into recruitment by complete accident and loved it, then loathed it and now love it again.

When you were 9 years old, what did you want to be when you “grew up?” 

Luke Skywalker (apparently destroying the Death Star looks great on your CV…)

What is your favourite part of your job? 

I get to create new and fun, unexpected ways to interview talent, whilst also getting to have quality conversations with interesting people.

Hints from Mark

What I look for in candidates: 

I look for candidates’ relationships to problems – are they problem solvers? Do they view problems as personal challenges or a game to see how good they are? Personality. Attitude. Aptitude. Self-awareness. Resilience.

To me, the most employable skills a candidate could have are: 

The ability to solve problems is always number one.

My advice to applicants who want to stand out: 

Make sure your CV has statistics – numbers that show what you can do, the size of what you’ve done (how many staff, turnover, stock volume, etc). Essentially I’m looking for what you’re capable of – I call these the “Destroy the Death Star moments” (which make zero sense to people who haven’t seen Star Wars!). For those that have seen Star Wars, I tell candidates to imagine Luke Skywalker’s CV – if he just has his experience without his achievements it would essentially just read “Grew up on a farm, joined the rebel alliance”. So what? Boring. Throw in “Destroyed the Death Star” and suddenly he’s the hottest property in the galaxy – he gets a promotion, the competition start courting him… you get the idea.

Snap from the Victoria’s Secret “Instore Angel Games” Mark ran in September 2018 to recruit for their new full assortment Victoria’s Secret store opening in Chadstone.

Something you might not know about working for Valiram: 

The greatest thing about working for Valiram is the ownership you get in your role and the opportunities that brings for you to have to stretch yourself and find out what you’re truly capable of – it requires having to get out of the way of yourself at times, which can be tough but is always rewarding.

The biggest mistake you could make: 

Not turning up for your interview without letting the interviewer know. It’s disrespectful and can kill any second chances.

The first thing I notice about a resume: 

The language used and the way it’s written – I can tell a lot about the mindset of the person who wrote it by what’s in it, what’s not in it and the way it’s written.

The first thing I notice about a candidate at an interview: 

Strangely enough, their height. Which is utterly irrelevant but for some reason it’s the first thing I notice, followed by the face and then the personality. I rarely remember what anyone wears and never remember handshakes.

Questions a candidate should never ask: 

The best rule of thumb is never ask anything that could be deemed as sexist, racist or political – other than that, feel free to ask me anything that is important enough to you to want to know.

Don’t shy away from asking: 

Anything. You are interviewing me as much as I’m interviewing you. If you’re successful, you will be giving us your time and your abilities – make sure that we are the ones you want to give them to.

Don’t let this hold you back: 

Fear. Ever.

What I want to know about you as a person: 

Everything. I want to know how you succeed, what drives you, what stops you, what you believe about yourself and what you don’t know about yourself yet.

What homework I expect you to have done before the interview: 

None. I know some people complain that candidates haven’t done enough research about their company beforehand, but I see no direct correlation between your ability to Google a business and your ability to do your job well.

My advice to a candidate who wasn’t successful: 

Do not give up. Do not blame. Learn from the experience and try to discover something about yourself. Always remember that the right people for you will get how valuable you can be and that the wrong people for you probably won’t get you. I’ve been rejected for more jobs than I can remember and I’m grateful for every rejection because without them I wouldn’t have ended up where I am today. Remember that it’s the interviewer’s perception of what their ideal candidate should or must look like, as opposed to your own inherent value, capability and potential.

If this Q&A with Valiram’s Talent Acquisition Manager has sparked your interest in working for this leading retail specialist and brand builder or one of their many brands, keep up with their job opportunities here… 

Want more hints from HR? Click here to view all… or skip straight to hints from the “people” people at Brooks Brothers or Coco Republic.


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