Your Guide to Mastering the Perfect Elevator Pitch

th (6)Your elevator pitch is an important tool in your job search toolbox! It tells people who you are, what you do, and what you are looking for.

And the best pitches are both conversational… and convey your confidence!

You often use your elevator pitch when meeting someone for the first time, hopefully in response to the what-do-you-do question. Sometimes, you use it as an introduction. We can also use written versions of our elevator pitches in social media and email and also in cover letters.

The pitch should be very short, lasting only as long as a ride in a fast elevator for one or two stories — typically 30 seconds or less. Not much time to cover all this…

Your Name

If the person doesn’t already know your name, tell them. Use the professional version of your name in business situations. If family or old friends call you “Beth,” but your coworkers know you as “Elizabeth,” introduce yourself as “Elizabeth.”

My name is Elizabeth Miller.

Your business cards, resumes, LinkedIn Profile, and other professional visibility should also use the professional version of your name, so your elevator pitch connects to your business card and professional image.

Your Current or Target Job Title and Industry

Be prepared and be focused on the future.

I am a customer services, or member services, representative in the medical industry.

What You Do

Next, describe what you do in terms related to what you want to do next. So, if you are Elizabeth Miller, a medical insurance company member services rep, you would describe yourself like this:

I listen, then answer customer questions about their coverage, claims processing and also their problems understanding their bills. I am their advocate with any issues or concerns.

Use plain, everyday language that “normal” people can understand without a translator.

Your Relevant Achievements and/or Strengths

You need only one or two achievements or strengths that are relevant to your goal.

  • Quantify (if possible) improvements made at work, school, or in your volunteering as the result of your actions, like reducing costs 10% or increasing profitability 5%.
  • Think about compliments consistently paid you about your work or your approach to situations (perhaps mentioned in performance reviews at work).
  • Consider any awards you may have won, like employee of the month or best thank you note or whatever is relevant.

So, Elizabeth Miller would add:

I’m proud to say that I’ve received the Exceptional Customer Service award from Big Hospital, one of the major providers of medical care for our members.

What You Are Looking For

Briefly, but clearly, describe what you want next. Yes, you need to know what you want next or you are wasting an opportunity. People won’t believe that you can “do anything.”

I really enjoy helping people resolve their problems, so I am looking for opportunities to continue my work in this field at a hospital, healthcare center, or within health insurance.

Ask a Question of the Other Person

Since networking works best as a two-way process, invite the other person (or people) to contribute their pitch(es). So, if you haven’t already heard the other person’s elevator pitch, when you’ve finished your pitch, add:

What about you? What do you do?

Listen intently, then look for a way you can help the other person (or people) with their goals.

Finish with Your Business Card

If the other person (or people) are good networking contacts for you, exchange business cards so they have your contact information for the future. And, then you have their information, too.

If you are currently a student, introduce yourself and then add your year in school, e.g, senior. If possible, have a target job title or professional field and industry. Then, pull achievements from your school and/or work experiences.

If you are a new-ish college graduate, be sure to have a target job title and industry. Don’t be vague — again, “I’ll take anything” is not a memorable goal. Then, pull achievements from your school and any work experience including your GPA, major or concentration, papers, projects, publications, internships, and anything else you’ve done while you were in school that is relevant to what you are looking for.

Most important: Be prepared and confident.

Regardless of your current status, know your pitch well enough to weave it into a normal conversation. Don’t feel the need to blurt it out all at once… which almost always comes across as rehearsed and repetitive.

Now, go stand in front of a mirror… and practice, practice, practice your elevator pitch!


For this post, YouTern thanks our friends at Work Coach Cafe!




Susan-P-Joyce-AuthorAbout the Author: Online job search expert Susan P. Joyce has been observing the online job search world and teaching online job search skills since 1995. Susan is a two-time layoff “graduate” who has worked in human resources at Harvard University and in a compensation consulting firm. Since 2011, Susan has been editor and publisher of WorkCoachCafe.  A veteran of the United States Marine Corps, Susan also edits and publishes, is a Visiting Scholar at the MIT Sloan School of Management, and a columnist on HuffingtonPostAOL Jobs, and LinkedIn.  Follow Susan on Twitter (@jobhuntorg) and on Google+.



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