Perfecting your elevator pitch to land a job

A few small extra steps can be the difference between unemployment and actually getting hired


 elevator pitch
 elevator pitch

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CALGARY, Alta. Feb 19, 2016/ Troy Media/ – Under every rock, there’s another snake that claims that a candidate must have an “Elevator Speech.”

Unfortunately, the vast majority of elevator speeches that I have been forced to endure are long enough to last the time it takes to get to the top of Toronto’s CN Tower. (I can’t tell you how many times at career events, when asked to give an elevator speech, people first stumble, muttering “hamina-hamina-hamina” and then start reciting their resume). Eyes roll back in respective heads and sleep beckons.

Since I believe in sharing every method for finding a job, even questionable ones, let’s discuss the elements of an effective elevator ‘pitch’, as opposed to a speech.

The urban speed limit in most of the country is 50 kilometres per hour. You should maintain the speed limit . . . or, in this case, pitch limit,  to about 50 seconds.

An elevator pitch should contain the following:

  1. Your name (See, this isn’t so hard.)
  2. What you do (Be specific.)
  3. What you bring to the table for a company (This ain’t about you!)
  4. Why you would be an asset to a company (Your value proposition.)

Some people insist that you need to include a list of companies that you are interested in, but it has been my experience that candidates only mention large corporations. I believe this is a mistake. It’s more important to clearly state what it is that you do, remembering that you are pitching to people who might not understand.

Add an example of how what you do is used in companies. The more specific you can get, without being overly technical, the better. Strangely enough, the more specific you are about what you do, the more likely someone will be able to “see” you doing that something, or be able to make an association.

Even though most of us have worn a lot of hats in our professional careers, few companies are seeking generalists (especially big companies); they are looking for specialists. The best way to explain this is visually. Take a funnel, look through the small opening, and then through the large opening. You see more looking through the small end than you can peering through the large one. Similarly, if you give people a laundry list of things you can do, they probably cannot see you doing any one thing.

For example, there are a lot of different accountants, IT professionals, sales people, etc. It is what kind you are and what you do that makes a difference for companies.

Most of all, like with your STAR stories, you should follow the 3-R’s:

  • Write it (so it can be distilled to only the essentials)
  • Rehearse it (so that it comes naturally)
  • Recite it (to everyone you are near)

Nancy Collamer has a very good article on elevator pitches: [popup url=”” height=”1000″ width=”1000″ scrollbars=”0″]The Perfect Elevator Pitch to Land a Job[/popup].

If you are performing an Elevator Pitch, you are networking. Great! In addition to your pitch, which will likely be quickly forgotten, you need to add a few ways to stand out:

  1. Offer your business card.
  2. Ask for their business card. (make a note on the back side)
  3. Ask if it would be alright to send a LinkedIn connection request.
  4. Follow-up within 24 hours with the connection request!
  5. Thank your new connection with a brief note attachment.

Your attachment should be a one-page Marketing Plan (Business Plan). This brief document should remind your new connection of what you do, or want to do (similar to the summary statement on your resume and limited to about three lines). Offer a couple bullet points of accomplishments, or a set of columns that I call your Value Proposition that displays what you bring to the table for a company. Then, you should list a small number of target companies where your new friend may have a contact.

These small extra steps can be the difference between unemployment and actually getting hired.

Troy Media columnist Al Smith is co-author of the Amazon Top Rated book [popup url=”” height=”600″ width=”800″ scrollbars=”0″]HIRED! Paths to Employment in the Social Media Era[/popup], a Keynote Speaker, Career Coach and Resume Writer. Al is included in Troy Media’s Unlimited Access subscription plan.

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