If you were riding the elevator with the person you knew was the hiring manager for your dream job, but you had never met, would you know how to introduce yourself and convince her to meet with you to discuss why she should hire you? Would you be able to do it within the span of time you’re together in the elevator?
That’s where the elevator pitch gets its name. Long the stock in trade of entrepreneurs pitching ideas to venture capitalists and of salespeople looking to land the big account, job seekers are also recognizing the value of a good elevator pitch. It is something you can prepare and practice in order to present yourself succinctly and articulately to someone who can help you find your job.
In preparing your elevator pitch, think about getting across the following information in a way that’s easy to understand and intriguing within one to two minutes.
Who are you? Say a little bit about your background, e.g. your school, your field, last employer, industry. Describe what you do in terms of impact or added value to your listener.
Why you? What makes you unique? Why should your listener want to talk with you further? Pick two to three accomplishments from your resume that you think would most interest this listener.
What do you want? Ultimately what you want is to land your dream job, but you’re not going to get it from this very brief conversation, even if it’s with a hiring manager. What you ask for is the next logical step; and that’s usually a more in depth conversation about your qualifications for a job either with this person or with someone to whom you’re ultimately referred.
The most common place you’ll use your elevator pitch will be in network meetings and informational interviews. The what-do-you-want piece will sound like: Can you think of anyone else I should talk with as I continue to explore this career? Do you know anyone at XYZ Company who might be helpful to me in my search? It’s also great to have your pitch ready at job fairs where what you’ll be asking for is the opportunity to visit the organization and talk further. You’ll also find the elevator pitch helpful in actual job interviews. A common opening question from the interviewer is: Tell me about yourself.
Who knows? You may even have the opportunity someday to use your elevator pitch in an elevator. The important thing is to always have it ready.