Perfecting Your Elevator Pitch
One of the most essential components in your professional tool belt is crafting and perfecting your elevator pitch, which is a quick summary of yourself that you can utilize during interviews or when you meet people to describe yourself as a professional.
A typical elevator pitch is approximately 30 seconds long, named for the amount of time it would take to ride from the bottom floor to the top floor of a building, and should answer three questions:
Who are you?
What do you do?
And where do you want to go?
Elevator pitches can be used for when an interviewer says, “So, tell me a little bit about yourself,” but it should also be ready to use at a dinner party, PTA meeting, or even the bleachers at a little league baseball team practice session. You never know where you might meet someone who could connect you with your next big opportunity.
Start by answering the question “Who are you?”
Your elevator pitch should always start with your name and a brief summary about what you do. People often will state their name and their job title, which can be helpful if you have an easily understood title; however, consider rephrasing your job title into what you are actually responsible for doing. Think about it as sharing your name and your punch line, or a statement that describes what you do in such a way that grabs your listener’s attention.
Instead of saying “My name is Ashleigh and I’m a Writing Specialist,” I might say “My name is Ashleigh and I provide helpful tips to job seekers and professionals based on my experience as a recruiter.”
The first statement is factual and includes my name and my job title, but let’s be honest – it’s a pretty boring conversation starter and it doesn’t tell the listener much about who I am. The second statement gives just enough detail to grab the listener’s attention and hopefully sparks their curiosity enough to ask follow up questions to learn more about me.
Now that we know who you are, tell me “What do you do?”
Now that you’ve shared who you are, it’s important to share what you do. It’s best to avoid using overly technical terms or any industry jargon, depending on your audience. If you are speaking with someone well-versed in the intricacies of your industry, you may be able to get more technical when describing what you do, but a general rule of thumb is to try to keep your description in basic terms mostly anyone can understand. I was a recruiter for a mid-size company that had healthcare related positions, administrative positions, and human services positions. Over time, I learned important buzzwords to listen for during the interview process, but was by no means an expert in those specific fields. If a candidate was overly technical in a one-on-one conversation with me, I may have missed details lost in jargon that I could have easily understood if they were rephrased in more basic terms.
I would continue by saying “I write content specifically around interviewing and recruitment for the Begin Within blog and I am about halfway through completing my master’s degree in Human Resource Management. I discovered my love for recruiting and the HR field while working in the nonprofit sector. I found that my knack for problem solving, strong attention to detail, and ability to communicate effectively with people of all levels within organizations align closely with what most companies are seeking in their HR departments.”
Finally, “Where do you want to go?”
Now that you’ve shared who you are and what you do, it’s important to share where you want to go in your career. You don’t have to have everything completely figured out, but if you’re at a networking event looking for a new opportunity or at a job interview, you want to make a strong connection about where you see yourself in the next few years. At a networking event, you may share that you are seeking new connections to get established in the local market. At a job interview, you want to make the connection about how the position you are applying for aligns with your career goals.
For example, if you’re applying for a managerial position that oversees a team made up of employees working at your current employment level, you may share that “after several years of experience as a [insert your job title here] you are ready to take the next step and the added responsibility of leading a team using your experience in the field as a resource.” This final component of the basic elevator pitch shares what you hope to accomplish in your career and or how you can be an asset to the company or person you are speaking with.
I’d wrap up my elevator pitch by sharing that “Although I have about a year left to complete my degree, my end goal is to provide HR consulting services to small businesses and nonprofit organizations based on their various needs. While my specialty is recruiting, I also have experience in training & development, performance management, and employee relations.”
I asked Begin Within’s Founder and CEO, Jaime Chapman, to share her own elevator pitch with readers. Jaime highlights several of her accomplishments, shares what she does in a way that is easily understood by listeners of all levels, and where she is headed next. Here is her elevator pitch:
“I’m a passionate military community advocate, published author, and the Founder and CEO of career consulting firm Begin Within. In the past, I’ve provided employment assistance to special needs adults and have helped over 1,500 veterans and military spouses find employment. I currently serve as an executive-level career consultant for C-Suite leaders and host a career-based radio show that airs live to over 20,000 listeners each week. Most recently, I’ve worked to influence policy to reduce the 30% military spouse unemployment rate and was recruited to appear as a career advisor on a TV show that will broadcast live to over 400-Million viewers later this year.”
Now that you know the components of an elevator pitch and reviewed a few examples, it’s time to write your own or reflect on what you’re currently using. The more comfortable and confident you are in talking about your career, the more conversational and natural your delivery will be. Your elevator pitch is something that every professional should have ready to use at any time since you never know when you may discover a great opportunity.