“Tell me about yourself…” — 6 elevator pitch tips for job seekers
Job seekers always need to be “on.” Whether the interview just started or you are at an informal business networking event, you only get about 30 seconds to make that crucial first impression. What you say and how you say it up front matters. In this article, we provide some helpful elevator pitch tips for job seekers.
An elevator speech is so named because it’s short enough to be spoken when you find yourself on an elevator with someone you want to connect with. It might just as well happen when you strike up a conversation with someone waiting to be seated in a restaurant or at the auto parts store. No matter where you meet someone, they might be just the person to connect you to your next employer. It is essential to be prepared with a pithy short answer to the inevitable question of, “So, tell me about yourself.”
6 elevator pitch tips for job-seeking success
Follow these elevator pitch tips to present yourself in the best possible light.
Clarify yourself for yourself.
It’s hard to ask someone to hire you or even point you in a direction if you aren’t sure where you want to end up. Once you are clear on that, write down everything you want a potential employer to understand about you, counsels Nancy Collimer writing for Forbes. “Then grab a red pen and mercilessly delete everything that’s not critical to your pitch,” she says. “Keep editing until you’ve got the speech down to a few key bullet points or sentences. Your goal is to interest the listener in learning more, not to tell your whole life story.”
Focus on them, not you.
Just as on your resume, you must reframe your strengths and skills into benefits for an employer – past, present, and future. For example, a job seeker might say, “I am an information technology professional with 10 years’ experience working for engineering companies.” A more powerful statement would be, “I am an information technology professional with a strong track record in implementing digital innovation to support organizational growth.”
Answer four questions.
The first two are who you are and what you do. In 15 seconds, give your name and say specifically, not generically, what your expertise is. Then spend the next 15-30 seconds telling what makes you stand out and what you want.
In one or two sentences, tell about something you achieved in the past six to twelve months, keeping in mind the last point and framing it in terms of benefit to the employer. An appropriate ending might state the type of position you are seeking and ask for a referral. If you know of a specific opening in their organization that interests you, say so.
Eliminate industry-specific jargon from your elevator pitch. Inflated language usually makes people sound pompous rather than intelligent, and that is a turnoff. Simple wording in a conversational tone makes you more relatable. The last thing you want to do is make the person you’re talking with feel ignorant if they don’t understand what you’re saying.
Allison Green, whose blog is called “Ask a Manager,” reiterates the need for a conversational tone. She cautions job seekers to avoid sharing unsolicited, overtly salesy pitches: “If the other person is thinking ‘Oh, I’m hearing an elevator pitch,’ that’s a failure.” Rather than thinking of an elevator pitch as a commercial for yourself, think of it as public relations. When done right, it is a welcome first step toward a mutually beneficial relationship. When done wrong, it feels like an intrusion.
Speak your elevator pitch to the mirror or record yourself on your phone. You might even recruit a friend to be your practice audience and give you feedback. Practice until saying your elevator pitch feels as natural as other conversation. Don’t worry if it doesn’t come out the same every time. The goal is not to memorize it, but to smoothly flow from one idea to the next so you get all your points covered and the listener can get a sense of who you are.
Align your body language.
An often-overlooked communication principle is that our nonverbals convey more than our words. Your posture, gestures, facial expression, and tone of voice need to express confidence and positive energy. Stand or sit tall, but not rigid. Make eye contact and smile. Check your handshake to make sure it’s firm and friendly, rather than limp or bone-crushing.
What type of career transition will move you toward your goal?
We hope these elevator pitch tips are beneficial to you in your career.
We look forward to introducing you to hiring managers with whom you can share your elevator pitch!