How to Create an Elevator Pitch Employers Want to Hear
By Helen Godfrey, MA, NCC, BCC, LPC
An elevator pitch is a short summary used to describe a person or organization in a quick and concise way. The concept originated with the thought of meeting someone in an elevator and you only have a couple of seconds to chat. An elevator pitch is an important tool for your job search. It’s an effective way of telling a potential employer and/or contact, such as someone you meet in an elevator who you are, how you can contribute, and what kind of position you’re seeking. Try out these suggestions to prepare and present your self-introduction.
Preparing Your Elevator Pitch
1. Write it down. Even though you’ll usually deliver your pitch out loud, writing it out on paper is a good practice. You’ll be able to tell if it flows well and covers all the essential points. Practice it out loud to work out the kinks.
2. Keep it brief. You want a pitch that would fit into the average elevator ride of about 30 seconds to 2 minutes. In most cases, that means less than 200 words.
3. Clarify your goals. Identify what you want to accomplish. Perhaps you’re targeting a specific position at a certain company. Maybe you want to explore a range of opportunities related to teaching chemistry or selling real estate.
4. Quantify your achievements. Summarize your accomplishments. If possible, add in an impressive statistic like how many books you’ve published or certifications you’ve earned.
5. Focus on your audience. Think about what your listener needs and discuss the benefits you could deliver to them. State your ability to enhance quality, save money, or create more efficient systems by using an example from your past. Be prepared with more details in case there are any questions.
6. Highlight your strengths. Use a positive statement about your qualifications focusing on your strengths and back it up with an example. What I mean is: Don’t just say “I’m hard working” back it up with a specific story such as, “Throughout my college career I worked 20 hours a week and attended school full-time…..” From here, move on to a specific example that is related to the type of work you are seeking. During the interview process, definitely be prepared to discuss your weaknesses but, for now, this will probably not come up in conversation.
Crafting Your Elevator Pitch
1. Invent multiple versions. Adapt your elevator pitch to a variety of circumstances. That way you can respond if you have extra time. You’ll also be able to talk to industry insiders and other professionals who are unfamiliar or less familiar with your background.
2. Rehearse carefully. Practice while looking in a mirror or record yourself. Talking out loud will help you determine if your speech sounds natural. Practice will also help you avoid sounding like a robot.
3. Invite feedback. Ask friends to let you practice on them. Use their suggestions and questions to make adjustments. You may need to speak more slowly or translate industry jargon into language that’s easier for a wider audience to understand.
4. Stay up to date. Review your pitch on a regular basis. There may be buzzwords that grow stale over time and need to be replaced. Also, you may have earned new credentials that you will want to include.
5. Spend time listening. Watch for the other person’s reactions and listen to their comments. Ideally, you’ll open up a two-way conversation. Pick someone you admire and pay attention to the way they introduce themselves. You could even ask them if they would mind sharing their elevator pitch with you and giving you feedback about yours. Hearing others’ pitches may give you some valuable ideas that you can incorporate into your elevator pitch.
6. Exude confidence. Start out with a firm handshake as long as it’s appropriate for the setting and situation. Radiate enthusiasm. Hold your head up high and smile. Make eye contact for a few seconds.
7. Be prepared. You can use your speech for more than just job interviews. It doesn’t matter if you are at a cocktail party, soccer game, shopping malls or standing in line at Starbucks. It’s possible you’ll bump into someone who may have a lead on the kind of position you are seeking.
8. Follow up. Depending on the situation, it may be appropriate to follow up. Think of your pitch as the first step in a longer process. Hand out and collect business cards. Suggest getting together for coffee to continue a discussion if that seems like a natural next step. Don’t force it. It’s usually a good idea to ask for advice rather than a job. When you focus on asking for advice, it takes the pressure off the other person and opens up the floor for a helpful dialogue.
An effective elevator pitch is like a movie preview. It peaks people’s curiosity and makes them want to learn more about you. Equip yourself with an introduction that will show employers why you would be a valuable addition to their team. Here is a sample elevator pitch template that should take you 30 seconds or less. Be as specific as possible.
Think of an example of something that you did in the past that you really enjoyed to showcase your interests, values, and motivators to the listener. This will help the listener, whether or not they are an employer, to know how to potentially help you. You never know who they may know and who they may connect you to for a possible job or conversation.
Sample Elevator Pitch Template
My name is…..
I have a degree in…..and/or I have abc number of years of experience in….. . I am currently seeking jobs such as, name 3-5 job titles, and/or in, name 3-5 industries or companies. I have experience in….industry buzzwords. In my past work experience (for example) I really enjoyed working one on one with clients to come up with solutions such as…. . So I am hoping to continue to have a people centered position where I would …. .
This can be a great way to explain a career change to your listener as well. Perhaps your last job helped you clarify your career goals and that is the reason now you are seeking new opportunities. Tell your story. Be authentic. Be genuine. Be enthused. Regardless of the outcome, you will leave a positive impression on the listener and you never know where that might lead you.