Creating An Elevator Pitch - Two Minutes or Less

What is an "elevator pitch"?

An "Elevator Pitch" is a concise, carefully planned, and well-practiced marketing message about your professional self that your mother should be able to understand in the time it would take to ride up an elevator.  It should contain a “hook” or “theme” and go no longer than 60 seconds; resonate with your unique personality and interests and contain a follow up request for a business card, a referral, or future meeting. 

Why do you need it?

It helps get your foot in the door with potential employers whether on the phone, e-mail or in person at a conference, chance social networking event, or through an informal face-to-face chance encounter through a friend or relative.  You will have a “ready-made” two sentence to answer the “Tell Me About Yourself” or “What are you hoping to do when you graduate?”

  • It forces you to figure out what your primary skill sets are and what makes you valuable.
  • It helps you do the hard work needed to deliver an effective “cover letter” that entices an employer to read your resume and grant the interview.

Common Mistakes by Recent College Graduates

  • Lack of confidence in what you have to offer. - “I don’t have a lot of experience yet.”
  • Lack of focus or goals. - “I have a lot of interests and don’t want to limit myself.”
  • Inability to articulate the learning and skills gained from one’s academic major. - “I know my major has nothing to do with my interest in starting my own business, but…”

Using Career Labels to Get Started

Begin with your education or areas of career experience and follow up with your primary “soft” skill your strongest area of expertise.  Examples:

  • International Trade and Immigration; strong writer
  • MA International Relations; aptitude for policy analysis
  • BA History & LA; advanced multi-lingual skills
  • Health Care Marketing; strong customer service skills
  • Low Income, Youth Prevention Advocate; program development

Developing Your Elevator Pitch

  • Write down your "Hard Skills" (your academic, volunteer, internship and work experiences).
  • Write down your "Soft Skills" (describe who you are and how you operate).

What is the Purpose of Your Elevator Pitch?

  • This short 15 – 30 second sound bite concisely and memorably introduces you. It allows you to succinctly and positively position yourself in the mind of the listener.
  • Your first objective during an elevator pitch is to get them to like you-Because if they don't like you, they might just take the stairs next time.

Content

  • Profession - what you do - your professional identity. Consider stating your true profession rather than your job title Ex: Trainer or Learning and Development Professional; HR Generalist or Human Resources Business Partner (students-aspiring HR professional after graduation).  “I teach, create, develop.'” People who do are just seen as doers; people who inspire, teach and create are seen as experts. State this in the present tense (“I am”, not “I was”).
  • Expertise - the competencies or skills you use to perform your work. "Competency" is a set of behaviors that describe excellent performance in a particular work context; a bundle of skills. A "skill" is something you can do well.
  • Types of Businesses - name the environments in which you have worked or want to work in. Ex: nonprofit, startup companies, Fortune 500 companies, government agencies etc.
  • Special Strengths - the things that make you different from others who perform the same work (your competition). Do you have a special certification, unique approach to a problem, or exceptional technical knowledge? Connection to groups such as SHRM?

Delivery

An elevator pitch isn't much good if first you don't come across as a credible, likeable individual. To achieve that, remember your business etiquette. The first thing you have to do is introduce or re-introduce yourself. Stick out your hand, and put your face and name back in context for them.  Only then should you explain how they can help you. And after you deliver a pitch, try to give a really brief review of your talents, education, or skill set.

  • 30 seconds - 60 seconds in length
  • Practice so that the delivery is natural, conversational, and effortless.
  • Sound the part - show confidence and let your passion show through.
  • Look the person you’re speaking to in the eyes.