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The elevator pitch. You are probably familiar with the term. It is most commonly used to describe the concise 60-second speech that business owners and executives, as well as salespeople, use to describe their business, product, or service to others. More importantly, it is a speech that is delivered in a compelling way that describes what is unique about the business (or offering), describes the benefits to the target market, and excites interest in the listener.
So, why should you–the job seeker and career professional–care about the elevator pitch? If you are familiar with the concept of personal branding, and the idea of leveraging your brand to advance and promote yourself in your career, I’m sure you immediately recognized similarities between the above description of an elevator pitch and a personal brand statement.
Personal branding allows you to make a name for yourself. It differentiates you from your peers and helps to position you as a leader in your field – as a specialist and an authority who knows how to do a job and fill a particular niche in the workplace better than anyone else. A personal brand statement is a succinct statement that clarifies and communicates what makes you and your unique value proposition different and special.
Your personal brand statement will play a large role in your 60-second elevator pitch as a job seeker and career professional. Your entire elevator pitch will be a mini presentation that you are able to give on the fly in response to those all-too-common questions “what do you do?” or “tell me about yourself?” With precision-like focus, an effective elevator pitch will immediately convey to the listener who you are as a professional, and will do it in a way that addresses not only your unique value proposition, but in a manner that addresses the concerns of your listener. Of equal importance, while your pitch is planned and rehearsed, when you actually speak it, it should sound completely natural and spontaneous, yet it should leave the listener with a lasting, positive, and memorable impression. You will use your elevator pitch frequently, in networking situations and during interviews.
But, once you recognize that crafting an elevator pitch is essential, you might feel daunted at the prospect of creating and perfecting one. Certainly, this is a task that your career coach or the professional that you hired to create your resume can assist with. However, with some introspection and honest self-assessment, developing your elevator pitch does not have to be difficult. To get started, ask yourself these essential questions:
- What is the focus of your search? What is your job target?
- Who is the person/people most likely to make a hiring decision about you?
- What are the problems faced by your target audience?
- What is it that you are offering that would solve these problems?
- What is it that differentiates you and makes you different from your peers?
- What are the benefits of your work as experienced by your target audience?
To create your elevator pitch, you now must put these elements all together in a brief presentation that you can deliver quickly—in the time it would take you to get from one floor to the other in an elevator.
As an example, here is my own “branded” elevator pitch that I developed to concisely describe my work as the executive director of Distinctive Career Services.
“You know how some career professionals miss out on really great employment opportunities, or don’t advance as quickly in their careers as they would like, or don’t get paid the compensation they deserve, all because they don’t really know how to differentiate themselves in their careers or promote themselves effectively in the job market? Well, I am a job search coach, personal branding strategist, and career marketing professional—one of just a few people worldwide with this unique blend of expertise. In my business, which is internet-based and global, I provide a mix of innovative products, programs, and services delivered to six-figure+ and aspiring six-figure+ professionals, managers, and executives. All my offerings are designed specifically to empower my clients to promote and market themselves effectively, opening doors and enabling potential to achieve their highest career ambitions and goals. The benefits are that my clients dramatically reduce the time and money they spend job searching, rapidly advance their careers, boost their incomes, enjoy greater professional recognition, and overall, establish themselves in careers that are more professionally, financially, and personally rewarding.”
Once you have the answers to the six simple questions above, you have everything you need to create a similar elevator pitch for yourself. Do you see how I have taken my own answers to the questions and interspersed them throughout my pitch? I’ve clearly communicated who my target market is, have identified the problems and challenges that they face, have conveyed how my offering is not only unique but solves those problems, and I’ve described the key benefits that my offerings produce. You can use this same model to develop your own elevator pitch. But remember; don’t go into too much detail. Your goal is simply to pique interest and make yourself memorable. Don’t spend too much time on the details of your qualifications. Just quickly highlight them and tie them back to how they benefit your target audience (current or future employer).
Once you have your pitch perfected, practice it, practice it, and practice it some more. Your goal is to have it sound completely natural. Rehearse in front of a mirror and be aware of your body language and eye contact, as these aspects of communication often speak even louder than words. Now, try your pitch out a few times and observe the response to the listener. Be open to the prospect of adapting and modifying as necessary to elicit the response you want to generate. And, of course, be flexible. If your listener interrupts with a question, be ready to pause and answer it.
Creating your elevator pitch may take some time and thought, but it is a wise career professional who invests in it! You will hear the “what do you do?” or “tell me about yourself?” questions over and over, both during your job search and throughout your entire career. Don’t wing it! Preparation is the key to confidence and the key to making a lasting, positive, and memorable first impression. The benefits to your career will be phenomenal. It is well worth the effort!