Before I get started, you should know that career breaks are actually quite common. People…
I’m a firm believer that everyone needs an elevator pitch. For those who don’t know, an elevator pitch (also called elevator speech) is a quick, clear, and concise response to that timeless question: “What do you do?” I’ve been told that the inspiration behind the name is based on being able to effectively relay this introductory statement in the time it takes an elevator to move from one floor to the next.
I first became acquainted with the prospect of preparing an elevator speech when I left my corporate job to pursue self-employment. After coming to terms with the fact that you never know where your next opportunity might manifest, I quickly perfected a script that comprised my work history, an overview of my skills and accomplishments, and my professional promise.
When I transitioned into the career profession, I immediately recognized how having a strong elevator pitch is essential in both an active job seeker’s toolbox and any other advancing professional’s career arsenal.
Start with Your Message
When I worked in marketing, we constantly emphasized to our clients the importance of having a clear message focused on their target audience’s needs or pain points. If you are trying to get the attention and buy-in from a specific audience, you need a strong message. Once you have your message down pat, you can relay it in different ways across multiple channels.
For example, a job seeker needs a message that can be repeated on a resume, LinkedIn profile, networking situations, interviews, etc. Your message is the heart of all your career communications, and that includes your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch’s job is to communicate relevant information about you and what you can offer an employer. It can include any of the following:
- An overview of your work history
- Number of years of experience
- Education, specialized training, certifications, licensing
- Skills, accomplishments, and measurable impacts
- Your value proposition, or professional promise (tangible results an employer can expect from you on a consistent basis)
- A clear job focus
- Targeted companies (are you specifically targeting aerospace companies like Boeing and Lockheed; or tech innovation, Silicone Valley operations like Google and Amazon?)
Building Your Pitch
The goal is to keep your speech around 30-60 seconds, so every word counts. Start by getting clear about the type of position you’re focusing on in your job search. Then get to work on identifying:
- Your top 3 strengths or skills that you can offer for the position
- How you can help ABC Company solve a pressing problem
- Tangible results you have produced in your work history that ABC Company can expect from you consistently
- Differentiating skills, attributes, or anything else that makes you relevant, unique, and compelling.
A Sample Elevator Pitch
I worked with a coaching client to develop a pitch she used as part of a networking conversation. The client was looking for contacts within specific companies. Her job focus: a Sales Executive position in the pharmaceutical industry for a Fortune 100 company.
Hi, my name is Jane Doe and for over 10 years, I have been spearheading global opportunities from concept to multi-million dollar sales. As a sales executive for a global pharmaceutical company, I have successfully captured and closed deals with multiple Fortune 100 companies. I specialize in solution-driven sales that produce a qualifiable ROI. I’m seeking a similar opportunity with Company A or Company B. Do you have contacts in any of these organizations?
Feel free to use this speech to help you write your own but remember to always tailor your speech to your audience.
Once your speech is completed, practice it out loud in front of a mirror. Practice it in front of someone willing to offer honest feedback. Record yourself. Refine it and polish it, and then incorporate it into conversation (when appropriate). Most importantly, get comfortable telling others about your most pertinent qualifications, skills, and achievements.
Image: Jason Dent