Perfecting your elevator pitch
What’s an elevator pitch, and why do you need one?
“An elevator pitch is a 30-second, 90-word marketing tool for job seekers,” explains Eleanor Augur, MA, a career coach with Phoenix Career Services™. “It’s a commercial where you’re the star — you’re selling your skills, accomplishments and potential value to an employer.”
Here’s how to create a perfect elevator pitch:
Research potential employers.
Learn about companies that interest you before determining your pitch. You‘ll know the companies’ culture and products, so you can figure out their needs and how you can fill them, Augur explains.
Websites like Wetfeet and Glassdoor are good ways to find information about companies you’re interested in, including their hiring trends. Augur also suggests talking to people you know who work for your target employers to gain any insight they can provide.
Make a list.
Next, Augur says, list all of the assets that make you a great hire. This will help you craft a pitch that showcases what you have to offer. Include almost anything, even abilities or interests you might not think are job qualifications. “Record every thought you have concerning your skills, accomplishments and work experience,” she says. You can edit it later.
Focus on problem-solving in your pitch rather than job descriptions, Augur stresses. “Just because there’s not a job posting doesn’t mean there’s not a space for you,” she maintains. If you demonstrate knowledge of industry trends and ideas for addressing current market challenges, that can pique employers’ interest.
“Ask yourself what’s coming down the road in your industry,” she adds. “Then come up with a solution that you can pitch to employers. If you’re in manufacturing, you’d start your pitch by saying, ‘Have you thought about what 3-D printing means to your business? Because I have.’ Then describe your idea.”
Write and edit.
Take all of your notes and compose a concise, 90-word pitch, Augur advises. “I say 90 words because most people will start tuning you out on anything longer,” she explains, suggesting that you create multiple versions of your pitch for the different types of jobs you want.
Avoid vague descriptions, she cautions, and instead focus on action verbs with concrete examples, such as, “I build websites that have good SEO ranking on search engines.”
Always portray yourself in a positive, upbeat light. “Think about what your best friend or favorite boss would say about you, and capture that,” Augur notes, advising that you first read your pitch aloud to yourself and then share it with friends or colleagues. “Ask for feedback,” she says, and revise accordingly.
Practice and polish.
Your elevator pitch should sound conversational — not like you’re reading a script, Augur emphasizes. “It’s a softer, more informal approach than a speech,” she points out, noting that joining public speaking clubs like Toastmasters International can help you develop this skill. “Give your pitch … anywhere … you can until it becomes second nature,” she says.
Take your show on the road.
When your pitch is performance-ready, it’s time to use it in your job hunt. “Take it to career fairs, networking events, job interviews or anywhere else that might lead to employment,” Augur says. “Don’t wait for the opportunities to come to you — always be pitching yourself for your next job.”