Why You Should Use an Elevator Pitch for Your Job Search

Why You Should Use an Elevator Pitch for Your Job Search

Why You Should Use an Elevator Pitch for Your Job Search

If you've ever looked into whether you need an elevator pitch for your job search, you've probably encountered conflicting advice. Some people consider it a valuable tool, while others advise against it And many of the reasons you'll see for not using an elevator pitch are good ones. They can feel wooden and artificial, they can come off as "selling" rather than engaging, and they can seem out of context with a natural conversation. But all of these are examples of elevator pitch misuse. If you understand what your elevator pitch actually should be doing, you'll find that it can be very helpful.

Here's a better way to think of your elevator pitch: a flexible version of your personal statement that you can comfortably deliver any time to anyone. It's a must-have for your job search tool kit.

What Is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short statement lasting between 30 and 60 seconds. It's meant to be short, not so that you can fit it into some theoretical elevator ride, but so that you can use it naturally in many different conversational situations.

Its purpose is not to buttonhole a stranger to grab their attention. Its true purpose is to create a natural transition in any conversation, a bridge to gracefully and naturally bring up your job search without making you or the other person feel awkward.

The reason you should "work on" your elevator pitch in advance is so that you don't walk away from the conversation thinking, "Oh! I wish I'd said . . ."

How to Design Your Elevator Pitch

Your elevator pitch is simply a way of delivering your personal statement. Your personal statement is made to be read, not to be memorized and recited, but it has the same ingredients. Therefore, you shouldn't design your elevator pitch until you already have your personal statement.

Start with a Personal Statement

Your personal statement should be an extremely short story. It can be longer than an elevator pitch, but at its core, it has the same ingredients:

  • A short statement that affirms the values that give you fulfillment and the strengths you use to put those values to work. Example: "I have always been . . ."
  • A short description of the kinds of impacts you've been trying to make with those strengths in your career so far. Example: "A main focus of my career has been to . . ."
  • What your experience has taught you about what you want to do next. Example: "Through my experience with X, I've become very interested in contributing Y."

You make these ingredients real by basing them on your true history. The best way to do this is to have a list of your accomplishments. There you'll find some valuable patterns: what kinds of contributions you made, the strengths you used to make those contributions, and most especially, the values that directed those strengths.

Design the Elevator Pitch

Once your personal statement has a solid core, it should be fairly easy to pare it down to a 30-second outline, using the exact same structure.

How to Use Your Elevator Pitch

One of the most important skills you can develop as a job seeker is the ability to have engaging and enjoyable conversations that can naturally segue to the subject of your job search, without feeling forced or manipulative.

The key to doing this is to cultivate your natural curiosity. By asking questions and being genuinely interested in what people have to say, you'll have no problem starting up engaging conversations. When you make others comfortable to talk about themselves, they'll be more likely to make you comfortable to talk about yourself. Your elevator pitch is an excellent tool for just this moment.

The best time to use your elevator pitch is when someone is basically asking you for it.

The best way to take full advantage of all the preparation that went into your elevator pitch is not to memorize it, but to just deliver it naturally as often as you can. Practice it by delivering it in a relaxed way. Instead of worrying about whether you got it right, just go back and review it later, and try to remember how what you said compares to what you wrote.

If you follow this rhythm, you will have an ever-improving and adaptable elevator pitch:

  1. Review the pitch
  2. Use the pitch in a conversation where it feels OK to do so
  3. Review the pitch and compare it with what you said. Tweak it.
  4. Find more conversations to try the pitch again.
  5. Review and tweak again.
  6. You're on your way!

Your Indispensable Elevator Pitch

As you can see, your elevator pitch is a living thing; it adapts and improves as you use it. Eventually it will become a part of you, and you'll no longer need to think about it so much. And as that is happening, it will be helping to open more and more doors for you.

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