You Need an Elevator Pitch
When prospecting for jobs, I used to have two panic situations.
- You meet somebody, you ask them some questions to establish a bit of a relationship and to choose whether to put more time into the conversation. You learn that this person could be a lead to a job. Suddenly, you realize that it’s your turn to introduce yourself. What do you say?
- A hiring manager invites you to take a seat and begins the interview. “So, tell me a little about yourself.” What do you say?
As you can see, you need more than a good resume and a good cover letter.
The Elevator Pitch is the introduction you would give during an elevator ride. At the end of the ride, either you will watch the doors close as the listener walks away, or you will walk away with the listener because he or she wants to hear more.
You’ve got 30 seconds, and what you say will not only show whether you can solve the manager’s problem, it will also tell the manager whether, in your current occupation (Job Hunter), you are a diligent worker. The pressure is on!
Create Your Elevator Pitch
The Web has thousands of formulas for elevator pitches. I’ll give you the best formula I’ve seen, to get you started.
- (Introduce yourself. By this point, you should already have introduced yourself. If you haven’t, do so now. Optionally, you can add something about yourself that sets up the next part.)
Example: My name is Remy Therat (and some day, I’m going to own my own restaurant).
- Get their attention. Not your attention. Theirs. What do they care about? What challenges do they face? Stories get a person’s attention. A story about me -- or about the problems I face -- gets my attention.
Example: The last place I ate, the server’s expression made me feel guilty for having to ask for a fork three times, and the cooks couldn’t even bother with centering the burger on the bun.
- Tell them how you solve their problem. Remember, this is about their challenges, not about what you want. When you become the hiring manager, you can talk all you want about what you want. But for now, the hiring manager and his or her problems are the center of your universe.
Example: As an assistant manager, I always started the day with a huddle to get the staff to think about how we can make diners feel comfortable and important.
- Call to action! You want them to help you, but you don’t want to put them on the spot. Asking directly for a job puts them on the spot, so be indirect. “Who* do you know that...” asks them to think of a specific answer that moves you closer to finding an employer, and if you’ve already found the right person, he or she will answer, “Me!”
Example: Who do you know who could use a caring, ambitious worker on their staff to increase customer loyalty and staff retention?
Notice that the question reinforced the message of how Remy would be a great employee and how he would be good for the business.
* The correct word is whom. In my line of work, I have to be a bit of a grammar cop, so I would use whom. However, if it would make you sound stuffy and unnatural in your line of work, who will do just fine.
Let’s see how that flows:
- My name is Remy Therat (and someday, I’m going to own my own restaurant). The last place I ate, the server’s expression made me feel guilty for having to ask for a fork three times, and the cooks couldn’t even bother with centering the burger on the bun. As an assistant manager, I always started the day with a huddle to get the staff to think about how we could make diners feel comfortable and important. Who do you know who could use a caring, ambitious worker on their staff to increase customer loyalty and staff retention?
Prepare Your Pitch, but Be Spontaneous
Here’s the catch: You want this to come from within. You don’t want to sound like you’re reading off a 3x5 card. Besides, no Elevator Pitch will fit every situation.
If somebody asks about the weather forecast, do you repeat what KCRA’s meteorologist said, word-for-word? Of course not.
You now know the three main parts of your Elevator Pitch:
- What are their challenges?
- How can you solve their challenges?
- “Who do you know that could use (description of yourself) to (how you’d be good for the business)?”
You know your skills, your knowledge, your behaviors, your history. You are the expert on You, so you can be flexible.
Write out several possible answers for each of the pieces above. Think of how you would word the pieces for different types of jobs.
Then rehearse them. (Boring repetition and breaking things into pieces are the keys to memorizing.)
Imagine that you meet the hiring manager for one job and decide what the best pitch would be for her. Then imagine that you meet a manager for another job you could do, and decide what the best pitch would be for him.
A mechanic doesn’t use one tool for every job, he carries a whole toolkit. Be prepared, and you'll be able to be flexible and natural.
Copyright 2016, Rich Wheeler