A job search elevator pitch is a short powerfully-engaging presentation of yourself. When you’re in full-tilt job search mode, you never know when you might run into someone who is a potential networking contact. Even in an elevator. So having a good “this is me in a nutshell” pitch ready at all times is a smart thing to do.
I once got a job through a person I met at a BBQ (of all places). By using my personal elevator pitch, I managed to grab his attention quickly, And got him engaged in my career change story. He enjoyed the story, and even more my sincere, enthusiasm. And he offered to help.
So how do you use an elevator pitch?
While I didn’t know the term “elevator pitch” then, I had a basic short, fun energized version of what I was up to that I put into gear when meeting people. Not just for networking, but for friendly conversation. (It works better anyway when it doesn’t seem strategically delivered. )
Your “pitch” needs to let people know who you are quickly — and in a way that is memorable. The best elevator pitch presents your expertise, talents, and personality in a way that is NOT a hard sell, but still leaves the person interested. And does all that in 30 seconds or less if possible!
What’s an example of a good elevator pitch? First let me give you an example of a bad elevator pitch:
“Hi! I’m Ronnie Ann. I hear you’re looking for a sharp assistant to make you look good. (Wink!) I like helping people and think I could be a great fit for your organization. I’ve had a lot of jobs working for top executives and always got good reviews. What can I do to convince you I am right for the job?”
OK. That might actually work on some people. But it’s not an elevator pitch. It’s a tackle and all-out-run for the goal. And most people would run for cover.
A good elevator pitch is more subtle than that, since most people don’t want to be pinned down within seconds of first meeting you. You want to make sure what you say is concise, paints an interesting picture, and is memorable. And hopefully leaves them interested in your story.
So what goes into a strong elevator pitch?
- A good pitch probably has no more than three strong facts in it, since too much will muddle the message.
- It tells something about you. (In essence you want them to “invest” in you.)
- It tells something about your career.
- It clearly tells what you’re looking for.
- It has good energy and forward movement.
- It does not directly ask for a job — in essence it’s just a short, interesting story.
- It’s delivered conversationally — with good energy and probably a smile. (Only you know what fits the occasion. But in any situation, positive energy is always a plus.)
- You leave the person wanting more — kind of like a tasty sample of the delicious meal to come.
When do I start my elevator pitch?
I think the best way to set up an elevator pitch to maximize effectiveness (although it’s not worth wrestling for the honor) is if the other person gets to talk first. For instance, you can walk up and say “hello” to the person, and then ask them something about themself.
Listen carefully, show sincere interest, and then comment on something they said before going into your elevator pitch. It will show you’re a good listener and make them more likely to listen to (and like) you.
Most important … try not to sound canned. Just like with a job interview, the more natural you are when you give your pitch, the more likely the other person is to want to stick around and know more — and maybe even offer to help.
If you want to suggest changes to this or any other definition in our career dictionary, feel free to add your suggestions in a comment.
[Article updated in 2020]