Selling Yourself Is More Method Than Message

Delighted to see a couple of enterprising young graduates make news in their job searches in London this Summer.

The pair targeted hugely busy train stations. Their idea was to catch the eye of potential employers as they made their commute to work.

In the case of the first job hunter, Alfred Ajani grew frustrated after sending out 300 CVs and cover letters since April without success. Here was what was on his sheet of white paper that he held up to Waterloo Station passers by:


Omar Bashir held a slightly larger sheet at Cannon Street station. And used blues for text.

2:1 Economics Graduate
With Experience

Looking For Career Opportunities

Could You Help Me?

Grab My CV Here!

Alfred got to email 25 CVs and secured 4 interviews. Omar got an interview on the day and was employed by 6:30 that night.

Such triumph will surely lead to a parade of unemployed graduates lining the platforms of London rail termini heralding a whole new social meme. If you were one of many at that stage yourself wouldn’t you make it happen for tomorrow alongside similarly afflicted peers?

Let’s first deal with the message.

Both sheets of paper were small and simple. No huge banner, no sandwich board. Omar’s is perhaps slightly more sophisticated.

He uses colours, space, states what he wants and asks for help.

Yet these do not necessarily make his approach “better”. For Alfred’s is ultra succinct. And they both worked.

Maybe Alfred’s mention of his Uni might restrict to those that also went there. Maybe Omar could have said where he studied. Maybe not.

You could argue that the first ‘proper job’ search is so universal that not much needs to be said. After all, as Alfred says, how do you get on the ladder… “If everyone is saying we don’t have experience, then I do not understand how we are supposed to get that experience.”

Normally I’d recommend progressing beyond the mere ‘what’s’ of these messages. Why would someone really take you on? Perhaps future copycats will need to go this route.

What worked here was not solely message, but method. They were first to show the initiative – or courage – to stand around, so exposed, for exposure.

Emailing a CV feels like the most arctic of cold calling.

There’s precious little chance of standing out.

You gain attention by being seen in places your target audience doesn’t expect to see you.

This seems true of just about any sales pursuit in a crowded marketplace.

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