As you go through your job search, you’ll realize that just like with any company, you are your own brand. And as your own brand, you need to be able to market yourself properly just like any company does.
The elevator pitch is one of the best ways to craft a short and sweet message to explain to other people who you are, what you do, and why you’re unique, sort of like the mission statement of a company.
An elevator pitch should be no more than 30 seconds, the typical length of an elevator ride. Any less and you risk leaving out important details about yourself, any more and you risk losing the attention of whoever you’re talking to. Here we’re going to break down the secret formula to thinking about, and putting together the perfect pitch.
1. Start With Why:
You may have heard of the Ted Talk “Start With Why” by Simon Sinek, and if you haven’t checked it out, absolutely make sure you do that right now. Basically, understanding the “why” and mapping out what exactly you’re doing talking to this person will help you shape the rest of your pitch. Some potential questions to answer can be: why you’re at this networking event, why you’re at a particular company’s booth, or why you’re interested in xyz industry. This means that you may need to tailor your elevator pitch depending on where you are or who you’re talking to.
Figuring out the “why” may take a little bit of thought, but once you’ve gotten that down, make sure you tailor each part of the rest of your pitch to continually reinforce it. Make sure your “why” is genuine, as recruiters can tell when you’re just trying to tell them exactly what they want to hear. But more importantly, make sure you truly understand why you’re doing something. If you can’t think of a compelling reason, maybe you should rethink whether you should be there in the first place. Here’s an example of a potential “why” statement, this will not explicitly go in your pitch but is just a quick musing to help you with the rest.
Hmm, well I really want to work at a startup because I’m interested in finding innovative ways of solving problems, and I like being afforded independence and a great deal of responsibility. I really want to learn more about the startup industry and how I can start to get involved.
2. Who are you and what do you do?
This part of the elevator pitch is the most straightforward. For the first question, who are you? For this part, just stick to the basics and give a single sentence with name, year, major and school. The second part, what do you do, is where your “why” statement will really come in handy. You want to make sure what you do reinforces the purpose of the conversation so that your elevator pitch will make you seem truly driven and passionate.
Hi, my name is Amy and I’m a third year economics student at the University of Chicago. I’m currently the Vice President of Membership Recruitment for my school’s Panhellenic Association where I try to find innovative ways to streamline the recruitment process.
3. What makes you unique?
For a business, this is usually called the USP, or the unique selling proposition. USP is just a slightly fancier term for explaining how you’re different from the thirty other people standing in that room. Do. not. lie. You’re about to (hopefully) start a conversation with this person, if you say something totally wild, you can be sure that the person is going to press you on it when it’s their turn to talk.
As VP of Membership Recruitment, I identified a lack of transparency between potential new members and current chapters and so I developed the concept and format for an iPhone application to act as an informative resource for potential new members.
4. Start the conversation
Great, you’ve introduced yourself to this person and now they know all about you. Now what? A great way to conclude is by asking the other person a question to get the conversation flowing. But be sure it’s not so simple that they can just answer yes or no and then walk off.
So, I’d love to hear about your career path through the industry. What led you to where you are now?
5. Put it all together!
Voila! Your elevator pitch is complete, now all that’s left to do is put together your pieces from steps 2-4, and practice, practice, practice until your pitch is flawless. Most importantly, you’ll need to find that perfect balance between coming across as unprepared and sounding completely rehearsed. Confidence is key: we know you’re awesome, and by delivering your pitch with confidence, soon so will they.
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