A plucky job seeker who used a billboard to pitch for to work outside a tube station landed himself an interview in just three hours – and was offered a job three days later.
Haider Malik, 24, set up a pop-up stand with QR codes to his CV and LinkedIn page outside Canary Wharf in London and was offered a job interview after just three hours of networking.
After working for the NHS during the Covid-19 lockdown, the business and finance graduate decided to take a different approach to stand out from the crowd.
He decided to buy a board from a stationery shop in Romford, east London, which he used to clearly define his career aspirations to passers-by, and he stuck QR codes with links to his online CV and LinkedIn profile.
With the hope of finding an “entry-level role” or a place on a “graduate scheme”, the go-getter wrapped up warm in long johns underneath a suit and made his way to the busy financial district in the early hours of the morning on November 2.
Haider, of Redbridge, east London, said: “I got there at about 6:45am and stood for about 10 minutes in the cold, and in the beginning, I felt really awkward.
“I was standing there empty-handed and my CV was in my bag, so I was kinda hoping someone would come to me as I was used to waiting for someone to reach out.”
As time went on, Haider realised that he couldn’t just wait for people to approach him and so he decided to start greeting passers-by.
He said: “I put copies of my CV in my hand and started wishing people a good morning.
“I got a lot of ‘well dones’ and people started congratulating me on my efforts, and then within an hour, 100 copies of my CV were gone. It was really crazy.
“And instead of printing loads of CVs where they will probably end up in the bin anyway, I decided to get a QR code for my LinkedIn platform and a downloadable resume as everybody has a phone and when people are commuting, they have time to have a look.
“All they had to do was scan the code and be on their merry way.
“A passer-by from Canary Wharf Group took my CV or they scanned it from the code on my board – honestly, there were so many people and the outpour was so great that I can’t remember who helped me get the position I’m in now.”
Within just three hours, Haider was offered to interview for a job at Canary Wharf Group PLC and after checking his phone, realised his story had gone viral on social media after he posted an update on his LinkedIn page.
He said: “The timing of it was crazy, it was like something you see in movies. And now I’m seeing recruiters replying to me from applications I submitted six or seven months ago.
“Because of the media attention, they’re giving me reasons as to why I didn’t get the jobs whereas, I wouldn’t have heard from them otherwise.
“Because a lot of events and careers events are now online, you end up talking to hundreds of people and human interaction goes out of the window.
“There’s literally no interaction. You don’t meet people. You don’t know how to put yourself across and so many barriers were created because of the pandemic, in terms of communication.
“So I really wanted to get myself out there and get myself out of my comfort zone.”
His efforts paid off and by the end of the week, Haider, who graduated with First Class Honours from Middlesex University in London, started working at Canary Wharf Group PLC as a treasury assistant.
Haider, who had been scouted after his first year at university to train as a professional cricketer at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Australia, decided that it wasn’t the right field for him and flew back after six months, to continue his degree.
After graduating, he worked hard as an UberEats delivery driver and he explained that a constant source of inspiration to keep going was from his dad, Mehmood Malik.
He said: “My dad is 67 and was a migrant from Pakistan, coming over to England during his teenage years.
“He was a cab driver and would work maybe 12 to 14 hours a day. He would come home just in time to say goodbye to us as we went to school in the morning and I would always see him knackered but happy because he could give money to my mum.
“I’ve always been inspired by him because he made the best of what he had.
“I had the opportunity to go to school and university and maybe we take that for granted here, so we need to realise that the world is our oyster.”
When Haider was growing up, he always knew he wanted to work in Canary Wharf, but he decided to only visit the district when he felt ready to take the next step.
On the cold morning of November 2, he visited for the very first time and was able to pitch his way into the doors of the finance world.
He said: “As a kid, I had no idea what Canary Wharf was and my dad used to take me to Brick Lane to have bagels, and we used to drive past and I’d see these high rise buildings and this urban city lifestyle and I always used to say to my dad that I’ll work there one day.”
Now he is already making big plans for the future and wants to help others by spreading positivity and tips on how to stand out as a young professional.
He said: “I come from one of the most depressing boroughs, Redbridge, and yet it is all about standing out from the crowd.
“it’s all about being yourself and getting yourself out there. You shouldn’t look at other people and sell yourself short and my advice to young people is to always know your worth.
“It’s time to network and actually help yourself get out and it’s the best time to build your image and learn how to maintain that in the right way.
“I’ve always tried to help people. It sounds really cliche, but I’ve always been that person who, if you go to a supermarket and can’t reach a shelf, I will offer to help them out.
“It’s all about helping others reach their potential and I think that I would like to spread the word, so for me, public speaking, building my platform on social media, and doing TedTalks is definitely on the agenda.”
While enjoying his new job at Canary Wharf Group, Haider has been supported by his colleagues to continue helping people break into the job market.
“I spoke to Canary Wharf Group yesterday about something I want to do and they’re giving me their full support. They’re going to help me run my own careers fair, recruitment event type of thing.
“They’ve been kind enough to put their resources forward. I want to get four or five recruitment firms that are looking for active roles for potential employees to fill, rather than just networking and promoting themselves.
“If they’re actively seeking applicants, they will be set up in panels across the room, so they can talk to students coming in throughout the day.
“I hope to make this a reality in the near future.
“And my company’s support has been amazing from day one – like a breath of fresh air.
“I want to continue to use my platforms to help other people, especially those who have struggled for work in the pandemic. I’m really big on helping people and mental health, and it’s so important to start getting yourself out into the world again.
“People get jobs a lot of the time because of who they know, rather than where they’re educated to or what skills they possess, so I want to bridge this gap by showing people how they can take themselves out of their comfort zone.
“Things will never be handed to you by society and you can be yesterday’s news or yesterday’s applicant in two seconds, so you need to get yourself across in the right way to make a lasting impression.”
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