How I landed my first job with a tube station pop-up
Haider Malik made headlines last month when he got himself a job standing outside Canary Wharf tube station with a pop-up sign.
The 24-year-old was on The Today Show talking about this creative approach after struggling to find a permanent job, despite graduating from Middlesex University with a first-class degree in Banking & Finance.
Haider had been working as a food delivery driver and grew frustrated by zoom interviews that did not allow him to display his personality properly.
That's when he decided to do something a bit different and created his own pop-up stand complete with QR codes that directed potential employers to his CV and LinkedIn profile.
"I had like an A-1 sized board and a stand I just purchased from Romford the day before. So, I hopped out to Canary Wharf on Tuesday morning around 6.45," says Haider.
He realised there would be the morning rush of commuters — the best time to make an impact.
Despite being a confident person, Haider says he did feel awkward initially: "I was just standing looking around thinking someone come to me, please. I didn't know what to do."
People were supportive, smiling at Haider and giving him encouragement with thumbs up, but no one was approaching the graduate. So, he took out his CVs to hand out and use as a prop to trigger conversations.
"And then within half an hour, I had like 50 CVs gone. And people started coming over to me, speaking to me," says Haider.
Viral LinkedIn post
One person called Emmanuel took Haider's picture and posted it on LinkedIn, which is where the story got the most attention.
"He actually came up to me and spoke about how he wanted to do something similar and he didn't have the courage to do so about a couple of years ago. So he was really happy that someone was able to do [it]… little did we know that it could become this? You know, it's really crazy."
The buzz From Emmanuel's post worked.
Haider is now working for the Canary Wharf Group as a Treasury Analyst. He spoke to the director and CEO of the company on the day and received a message an hour later saying he had an interview.
"They literally messaged me on WhatsApp saying "come upstairs, and we'll interview you and we’ll go from there," says Haider.
Even though Haider didn't know much about the Canary Wharf Group or about the role — he quickly researched the company and the role before his impromptu interview — he managed to land the job.
"I think they saw someone who's a go-getter, someone who takes initiative. And not someone who lays back and waits for things to come to them," says Haider.
Haider says he gets this attitude from both his parents.
"My dad always tells me you have to be better than I was. And he's always someone who says go out there and do something, rather than wait for things to happen to you. And I guess that's where my go-getter attitude comes from," says Haider.
After his story went viral, companies that rejected Haider before started approaching him with job offers.
Haider says this shows something is lacking in the recruitment process: "I have the same credentials I had six months ago and they rejected me for reasons unknown."
He is working on a project to make it easier for others that have struggled to get jobs after graduating.
The initiative 'Bridging the Gap' will help students connect with recruiters. And his new employers have been supportive of the venture and are due to sponsor future events.
His advice for others is to "go the extra mile."
"You don't have to force it or be someone who's not you. But just do something articulate and creative, just put yourself out there and make your name known essentially," says Haider.
And did he ever say "thank you" to Emmanuel, the person who helped his story go viral on LinkedIn?
Haider actually bumped into Emmanuel on his first day at work and invited him for lunch: "It was really good to give him something back… and I hope to speak to him and meet him again soon."