Introducing yourself to an employer can be intimidating. A common way to make a good first impression is to use the elevator pitch. This simple and effective strategy is a basic summary of who you are and what your background experience is. This mechanism is called the elevator pitch because it’s brief. It should be completed within the length of a normal elevator ride, which is about 30 seconds. When done right, elevator speeches can help you land a job, connect with others, and build your network in addition to making a good first impression.
When to use an elevator pitch
An elevator pitch is a great way to break the ice at many professional events. Specifically, it can be used as an opening at job fairs, networking events, and within your LinkedIn summary. Also, it can be incorporated into cover letters and email introductions. Lastly, it’s very helpful in interview situations. The elevator pitch is a great way to answer the common “tell me about yourself” interview question. Having an elevator pitch will make you feel prepared in these commonly nerve-wracking situations.
What to include
We gathered the top tips from Indeed and Kent State University to create your personal speech. Generally, your elevator pitch should answer the following: Who you are, what you do, and what you want. More specifically, use the following five steps to craft your elevator speech:
- Who you are
Start with one sentence on who you are. Details you can include in this part are if you’re a student or a current job position you may have.
- What do you offer, or what career goals do you have?
If you have a job currently, create a sentence on what you do daily within your position. This is also a good area to state what career-related aspirations you may have, or that you’re seeking a certain position.
- Demonstrate your interest
Think about what courses you’ve completed or extracurriculars that you’re involved in to support that you are interested in a specific career field.
- What makes you different, and why are you qualified?
This is where you can list your unique skills, experiences, and achievements relevant to the position. Try to be specific, and connect how they are related to the job itself.
- Ask a question and call to action
After you’ve completed your pitch, give the listener something to do by calling to action. This could be getting a business card, giving them your resume, setting up a phone call, or scheduling an interview. This is a good place to get their contact information, and include them into the conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask them questions about the company, this shows that you’re interested.
Remember that your elevator pitch should generally be about 30 seconds long. With that, try to keep a general template of your speech so that you can easily modify it for different positions. Different jobs may want different skills, so being flexible with your speech is essential when applying it to a specific position. This may mean that your pitch is about a minute for another job, and that’s okay.
Things to avoid include personal details, technical jargon, and cliches. Personal details can distract from your accomplishments and achievements. The elevator pitch can also help you gauge your listener; it gives you time to figure out if they are more formal or casual. You wouldn’t want to bring up personal details if your listener is very professional. In addition to personal details, technical jargon also distracts from the main point of your elevator speech. Your listener may be a human resources representative who isn’t as familiar with the technical aspects of the company, so they may not understand what you’re saying. Lastly, cliches don’t make you stand out. Try to include details that are more specific to you.
There are many non-verbal components to an elevator pitch as well. Since it’s likely to be nervous in situations where you are using an elevator speech, remember to pay attention to non-verbal aspects of your communication. Specifically, remember to smile, don’t cross your arms and maintain eye contact. Doing these while giving your pitch keeps your listener engaged and makes you seem more professional.
Context: In a job interview
“Hi, my name is John. Thanks for meeting with me today. I graduated two years ago with a bachelor’s in management, and since then I’ve been working at a management firm. Within that position, I’ve traveled to different companies to help them create better management training and hierarchies for their workplace. I was excited to hear about this opportunity as an assistant manager, as I think my experience allows me to bring in multiple management mechanisms to this position. I would love to hear more about what specifically this position does daily.”
Context: Seeking an internship position at a career fair
“Hi, my name is Sarah. I’m currently completing a degree in marketing with a minor in business analytics at the University of Minnesota. I’m interested in your marketing intern position, as I think it could help me learn even more about the marketing industry. While in school, I’m the vice president of marketing of the business club. Here I try to increase our brand awareness on campus and I’ve helped us increase our members by 30% this past year. I’ve also developed skills as a marketing intern with the Johnson marketing firm. There I discovered that I enjoy learning and applying Google Analytics to marketing strategies. Could you tell me more about what your internship program entails?