February 13, 2017
When you're in the middle of a job search or trying to change careers, you never really know when you might run into someone who can help you along the way. Maybe it's at a networking event, or maybe at a friend's dinner party. Maybe it's in an office building elevator on your way to a job interview. You will probably have limited time with that person, so you want to communicate what's important in the space of that elevator ride. You want to create an elevator pitch.
Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) Career advisor Rich Grant conducted a webinar recently exploring ways to define and create an effective elevator pitch. He listed some ways to think about what exactly your pitch should be:
In reality, you'll probably rarely or never deliver your elevator pitch in an actual elevator, but it's a good way to think about what you're trying to accomplish: giving the listener a focused, condensed peek into who you are, your skills and experience and what you're looking for.
"In the context of a job seeker or someone who is networking, an elevator pitch is a short, 30-60 second, introduction that tells who you are as a professional, what you enjoy doing and the direction of your career goals," Grant said. "Think of an elevator pitch as a door opener, or advertisement, that draws in the listener by getting their attention and making them want to hear more. Communicate the value you could provide in a sentence or two, and then try to open up the conversation to dialogue."
That may sound like a lot to communicate in a minute or less. It is, but there are tips to help you in creating an elevator pitch. First, you want to introduce yourself. You want to share your career interests, highlight your relevant talents and skills and consider the listener's perspective and what problems they may have that you can solve.
Grant shared a list of an effective elevator pitch's key components:
If you've already written and optimized your resume, you may be familiar with how important using details and quantifying information about your accomplishments is. The same holds true in drafting your elevator pitch, Grant said. If you recently graduated you could say, "I completed my bachelor's degree." But it might be more effective to say something like, "I earned my bachelor's degree in computer information technology with a specialization in software development and graduated summa cum laude," Grant said.
"Quantifying and qualifying your statements provides the listener with scope in how they receive the information and allows the listener to fully appreciate your accomplishments and strengths," he said.
You want to deliver your elevator pitch naturally, but you can start with a rough outline to get started, Grant said:
Elevator pitches are quite different than your resume or cover letter even if they're trying to communicate much of the same information about yourself as a job candidate. Delivering your pitch requires personal interaction - you will need to perform, in a way, in a manner that engages the listener.
"It is most important to share your passion as this is the quickest and most effective way to pique your listener's interest," Grant said. "Have you ever talked with someone who is just super excited about their job? It's contagious. Their excitement sweeps you up emotionally even if you are completely unfamiliar with the exact kind of work they do. Strive to convey that contagious passion about your career in your elevator pitch."
That doesn't come naturally to everyone, and that's OK. There are things you can build into your elevator pitch and ways to practice it to help you along the way. Grant gave a few tips:
You should also practice your elevator pitch ahead of time, maybe a lot of times. You can try giving it to a spouse or friend, practice in front of a mirror or recording it. Practice delivering versions of your pitch, too, so it's not a script you've memorized and are reciting, but rather a story you've internalized and are sharing with others.
"Not everyone is a natural when it comes to exuding this type of energy and passion in oral communication," Grant said. "... Take a public speaking course. Join an organization where your can practice your public speaking. Toastmasters is one to look into. Take a course such as Dale Carnegie to boost your confidence when you find yourself in a situation when you need to interact with people. Finally, I think the more experience you have in networking situations, the more you will become comfortable interacting with others."
Well, you can use it anywhere really, but a formal job interview is a likely time. It's a perfect answer when an interviewer opens by asking you to tell them about yourself. Elevator pitches are also ideal for networking events and career fairs. But Grant said to keep it in mind during casual meetings, too, and other unexpected opportunities. You never know when you'll meet someone who can open doors for your career - maybe they'll even be in an elevator.
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