Finding a job today is not much different from a typical sales job….you are just selling yourself. Therefore, if you want to land a job, you need to master one of the most basic sales techniques out there – the so-called “elevator pitch.”
An elevator pitch is not meant to only be used in an elevator. It is simply a term that is used when someone needs to quickly pitch an idea to a client. In the job search, it is used when you need to quickly pitch yourself as an ideal candidate. It can be used anywhere – even during an interview to answer that notorious question: “Tell me about yourself”. It gets its name because the pitch should only take the amount of time it takes to ride up a few floors in an elevator.
A correctly delivered elevator pitch can be a huge differentiator. Job seekers today need all the differentiation they can get, because there are a lot of people vying for the same job. According to the Labor Dept’s latest monthly survey on job openings and labor turnover (JOLTS report), there are 3.5 people for every job opening. A healthier ratio would be around 2 to 1.
So, whether you’re in an elevator or not, here is a list of steps you can take to create a powerful elevator pitch that will help you stand out and get your qualifications across in 2 minutes (or less).
- Write it out and then refine, reduce, rewrite – fill a page with all the things that you would want a hiring manager to know about you. Then cut it down to half a page, then a quarter of a page, then to 2 sentences. By the time you are done, you should be able to quickly explain where you last worked, why you are good at your job, and why you are qualified for this job.
- Practice, practice, practice – rehearse your elevator pitch. Have 1) friends and family listen to it and 2) practice in front of a mirror so that you can view your body language, facial expressions as well as listen to your verbal cadence. No one wants to be bored by a monotone, two-minute-long recitation. When you deliver your pitch in a natural and upbeat way, chances are the listener will respond in a positive way also.
- Two versions – one version of your elevator pitch should be used for “formal” settings like job interviews. Another version should be used for more informal networking (i.e. in more social settings). The informal version should include a couple of points about your personal life that matches the setting you find yourself in.
- Demonstrate value – Employers want to know how you can help solve a problem or add value. Address that in your elevator pitch. However, each pitch will need to be tweaked for the specific employer that you are addressing and the specific job you are applying for.
- Show your interest – Being qualified is not enough; you have to show that you want the job. End on that note – if applicable.
As stated above, the elevator pitch is essential for both networking and interviewing. Your pitch – about who you are, why you add value, and why you are memorable – is invaluable as you move through the steps of landing your next best-fit job.
However, sometimes the best way to visualize the advice that you are given on the Candidate Connection Blog is to (well) see it in action. YouTube has many great (and also many not-so-great) examples of elevator pitches. Here is an example of a bad pitch and a good pitch in a video simply titled “Elevator Speech”