There is no such thing as an Elevator Pitch!
The “elevator pitch,” also known as a 30-second commercial, comes from the idea that you should be able to deliver it between floors on an elevator.
What you say IS an important part of your networking process. Usually, job seekers are coached to prepare their elevator pitch before they attend a networking event, career fair, or job interview.
Everyone should be prepared with an answer whether they are attending a formal networking event or just going about their daily life. You never know when you’ll meet someone who can point you to your next job opportunity. It’s just as important on social media venues such as LinkedIn, where you are striving to make a positive first impression AND be concise yet impactful.
But here’s the problem I have with an “elevator pitch,” especially for job seekers. Whether you are at a job fair or networking event, no one is going to ask, “What is your elevator pitch?”
Yes, you need to prepare one, but you also need to listen carefully, so you provide the right type of answer. And you avoid adding irrelevant “fluff” to your answers. In reality, you need to prepare TWO elevator pitches, one for each of these questions:
#1 Tell me about yourself.
#2 What are you looking for?
#1: TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF.
Here’s an easy-to-remember framework for your answer:
First two sentences: You and your educational background summary
The purpose is to help them warm up to you, so let your personality show – even though you may be nervous.
- Start with something personal such as how you first got passionate about technology, where you or your parents were born, or what languages you speak.
- Summarize your educational background.
- Hello, my name is _______________________________<optional: if you have already made introductions, then no need to state your name again>.
- I have been passionate about technology since <tell a short(!) story> _________________________________________________________________.
- I received my <degree> at <school> in <subject> and really excelled in <relevant subject>.
Middle two sentences: Your professional background summary
- Keep the details of your professional background relevant to your audience.
- Whenever possible, use metrics to describe the scope of your prior experiences. For example, how many people did you supervise? What was the scope of your responsibility in dollars, size, etc.?
My professional experience includes
- X years in the ____________, responsible for X, Y and Z
- Y years as a _____.
- Any other relevant item: ________________________________________
Last sentences: Why you’re here today
This is your chance to bring it home! Pretend the other person is thinking, “Yeah, yeah, but why should I be interested in you?”
- Your answer is tailored to the audience. If you are at a job interview, you want to highlight why you are excited about this role. However, if you are at a job fair, you want to share what type of position you are seeking in their company.
- Be personable, high-energy, and connect with the other person with a smile.
I’m here today because I’m very passionate about your <title> position and want to share my skills and learn more!
I’m here today since I’m seeking a position as a <title> in a technology company.
Ending options: You don’t need an end… you can simply pause, and they will take over.
- At an interview or when networking: May I ask you a few questions? (Have your questions ready.)
- At a job fair: Once I identify great positions at your company, may I contact you for help to arrange an interview?
#2: WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING FOR?
People want to help you. But they can only engage if you are clear and precise about what you are looking for.
- Bad answers to this question:
“I’m flexible; I can do a lot of things.” (Hmmm, and that says what about you?)
“Well, my background is in __________________________ and ______________________”. (Did they really ask this? And so, what if you were a shoe-repair person? They are interested in your next step forward not your last.)
“I’m looking for an exciting position that leverages my background and where I can work with great people.” (Sorry, this is NOT about you!)
- Good answers to this question:
“I’m looking for a data analyst position in Chicago with a large corporation in the technology industry.”
“I am very focused on two types of career opportunities. One is as a business intelligence analyst in a large company in Tacoma, Washington. However, I’m also looking at opportunities in database administration at large tech firms in Seattle.
Here’s a simple framework to help you craft your answer:
I’m looking for a <title> position in <city> with a <size company> in the <industry>.
- Could you recommendation any great companies I should look at?
- Do you know any technical recruiters in my target companies: _______, ______, and __________?
Answer both questions proudly and with confidence! Make eye contact, share a smile, and show your pride and passion.