We’ve all heard about the importance of making good first impressions and how we will never get a second chance to make one. This is especially true when you’re job hunting and trying to not only make a great first impression, but also stand out among a sea of candidates. One way of doing that is to create an impressive elevator pitch.
An elevator pitch, also called an elevator speech, is a short statement about who you are and what you have to offer an employer. Generally, these statements will only last about 30 seconds, the time it would take for you to travel up a couple flights in an elevator with someone. Although at first blush you may think that you don’t need an elevator speech — you have all the information about your background and accomplishments detailed in your resume and cover letter after all — Dana Manciagli, author of “Cut the Crap, Get a Job,” says it’s a crucial part of job hunting.
There’s a lot of advice out there about how to craft an elevator pitch, but all workplace experts will agree that you need to be brief, and you need to be interesting enough to make someone want more information about you.
Here are some tips:
- Use the rule of three. Lead with a short statement about your goal, such as, “I would like to find a marketing management role in a large technology company.” In the second sentence of your speech, go on to talk about the kind of help that you’re looking for. An example of this would be, “I’m interested in speaking to people with marketing connections in technology companies. Then to end the speech, make a statement where you more directly ask for help with your goal, such as, “Are you someone I can follow up with to discuss this further?”
- Highlight your achievements. Talk about your leadership roles, internships and accomplishments to tell how you have made a difference. Organize your thoughts using the PAR plan, or Problem, Action, Results. Quickly illustrate your worth to a hiring manager by outlining a problem you dealt with at work, what specific action you took to solve that problem, and how your solution ultimately benefited the organization in terms of saved money or time.
When you’re crafting your elevator pitch, keep the following do’s and don’ts in mind.
1. Do consider your nonverbal communication. Even if you construct a strong elevator pitch, the words you say won’t make a difference if your body language makes you look timid and insecure. When giving your speech, be sure to maintain good eye contact (just enough to seem friendly and engaged because too much will come off as aggressive), smile and hold your head up high.
2. Don’t use marketing terms or jargon. With elevator speeches, don’t use a lot of marketing speak and clichés. Avoid using industry terminology such as ‘synergy’ and ‘optimize.’ Such phrases make it sound like a sales pitch and can make your message to be lost.
3. Do practice your elevator pitch. Just as with any kind of public speaking, practice makes perfect. The best way to ensure that you don’t freeze during your elevator pitch is to practice, practice, practice. And don’t worry that rehearsing your elevator pitch will make you sound robotic — the amount of time you have is so short that there’s little chance of that really being an issue.
4. Don’t forget to always be prepared. You never know when someone will give you their name and number and you don’t want to miss that opportunity just because you didn’t have something as simple as pen and paper.
Kenya McCullum is a freelance writer based in California. She contributes to several websites, including Schools.com .
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