An elevator pitch is a great little tool to use as part of your job search strategy or more generally throughout your career to convey what is unique and valuable about you.
It’s a simple, concise message that you can bring out in any situation where you need to really grab the attention of the person you are talking to. The aim is to quickly (in about 30-40 seconds, or the length of an elevator ride) get them interested in finding out more, whether at that moment or through later conversations.
You might have also heard of it referred to as an elevator speech or personal branding statement, but they are all doing the same thing: Planting the seed of interest with anyone that asks about what you do.
But why do you really need an elevator pitch and how do you go about constructing one?
Why Do You Need an Elevator Pitch?
You’re in the process of finding new work and on your way to your current job, you bump into an old work colleague. They’re doing great, starting up a new business that sounds exciting and is an opportunity that seems perfect for you.
They ask what you’re doing.
What do you say?
You know what the ideal scenario would be, but are you prepared for that? Do you have a 30-40 second pitch that concisely paints a picture of who you are, what you’re good at and what you want to be doing?
If you have a well-refined and rehearsed elevator pitch ready to go at any moment, you’re in prime position to take advantage of any opportunity that comes your way. It can make you memorable even when you only have 30 seconds with someone.
An elevator pitch is useful in many ways other than chance encounters:
- Use it for your social media profiles to build your personal brand or to let people know you are looking for work and what you offer.
- It can form the basic structure for a longer pitch that can be used in interviews to answer that question “Tell us a bit about yourself.”
- It can be a springboard for further conversation on topics that you are really interested and knowledgable in.
- At a networking event where everyone is asked to give a brief introduction of themselves, it can help you really stand out.
My personal favourite is just telling friends and family what I do when they ask. It’s amazing how good you feel about yourself when you can impress the people you care about most!
If you’re in the middle of a job search, an elevator pitch is utterly essential. You want to open as many doors as possible and this small tool gives you a powerful key.
How To Construct an Elevator Pitch
You can’t simply sit down and write an elevator pitch in one go. It takes a bit of thinking and experimentation to come up with something that is clear, concise and compelling.
Here are our 5 steps to the perfect elevator pitch:
1. What Outcome Do You Want?
Your elevator pitch will vary greatly throughout your career simply because you will have different requirements for it at different times.
You might be looking for work, in which case it should be demonstrating your professionalism and what you offer to any potential employer or someone that can recommend you.
You might have a business and want to get across the value that you can give to a potential client, customer or business partner.
Think first about what the goal of your elevator pitch is so that everything can be tailored to achieve this outcome.
2. Stick To A Structure
You don’t want to sound like everyone else, but with such a short pitch, the structure matters. You want to keep it concise while getting everything across.
The three things you need to have in there are:
- Who you are – a super-short introduction of your role or business, for example: “I’m a career coach at Better Work Heroes.” If you haven’t already given your name earlier in the conversation, do that at the beginning.
- What you offer – the aim here is to follow on from your role or business by talking about what value you give in your role or what your business does to help people. Try not to go into specifics of what you do, but more how you benefit your employer, customers, clients. For example: “I help talented people achieve outstanding careers.”
- What your USP is – up to now, you may or may not have grabbed attention. By bringing in your unique selling point you are aiming to take that attention fully. Why are you so good at what you offer? How does what you offer differ from other people? For example: “My approach to career coaching starts with supercharging a client’s energy before diving into a career quest that transforms how they view the world of work.”
These three points might not give you an elevator pitch in it’s entirety just yet, but these aspects will form the bulk of it.
If the goal of your elevator pitch is to generate job opportunities, be sure to add in a fourth aspect: What you want to do. The aim of this is to try and lead the conversation towards your goal by giving the person you are talking to a prompt or food for thought about what you can do for them.
The key thing to keep in mind as you create these parts is that you are genuinely enthusiastic about what you are saying.
Your elevator pitch should excite you as much as it does anyone you present it to. If the words you use help you naturally come across as enthusiastic for what you are saying, it makes your job much easier.
3. Don’t Stick To A Structure
Wait, what!? I just said stick to a structure and now I’m telling you not to?
You don’t want to say the same thing every time you use your elevator pitch. Even though it will be the first time someone hears you say it, it will become quite monotonous to you. Experiment. Try out the three parts you came up with above in a different order. Add in some other points of interest.
Your three-part structure is always going to be there to fall back on, but there is no reason to only use them. Have a few interest points and proof points to bring in when you feel they are needed.
Everyone you talk to will be different, so you might want to use a slightly different elevator pitch. Don’t worry, switching like this gets easier with practice which we’ll talk about shortly.
To continue the example, we might have some interesting things ready to pull out such as: “I’ve been taking cold showers for several months, I’m experimenting to see how cold exposure affects my working day in case it can help my clients.” or “I only speak French or Spanish to my children, I’m fascinated by how it positively affects their learning as well as my own.”
4. Take Action, Don’t Wait For Perfection
On the subject of experimentation, don’t wait until you have the perfect elevator pitch before using it. Try out what you have right now and see how it goes down.
If you’re in the scenario above with an old colleague that has started a business, you want to be saying something that might get a foot in the door rather than letting the moment pass because your elevator pitch wasn’t quite perfect.
Taking action will help you make it better. It’ll give you practice, real-time feedback and will trigger new thoughts that you can use to build on what you have.
Also, don’t wait for the perfect USP. Use whatever USP you have right now and you can update it as you learn new things, develop new skills and experience more situations.
5. Practice Your Elevator Pitch
Yep, I told you to take action and use your elevator pitch in public before I said you should practice it. If you have an opportunity to use your pitch, use it. If you have the opportunity to practice first, then do so.
Practising your elevator pitch can be as simple as recording a video of yourself on your phone. Play it back and refine where needed, including your body language. To take it to another level, practice in front of a friend or family member. Ask for honest, constructive feedback.
Every time you use your elevator pitch is a chance to practice, gauge reactions and mould it to certain situations.
You want to get to a point where you can recall the words of your pitch on auto-pilot but are always able to bring across your enthusiasm for it and ad-lib within it.
Once you have an elevator pitch ready to be used at any opportunity, it gives you greater confidence to start conversations. It will also help turn those conversations into something more meaningful, with an outcome in mind.
To get yourself to that point, make sure you consider all of the steps:
- What outcome do you want? – What is the purpose of your elevator pitch?
- Stick to a structure – Make sure you get across who you are, what you offer and what your USP is.
- Don’t stick to a structure – Have points of interest to bring up, adapt to the situation, experiment.
- Take action, don’t wait for perfection – Don’t hold your elevator pitch back until it’s perfect, use it!
- Practice your elevator pitch – Pitch to yourself and see what it sounds and looks like, get feedback from others, refine it until it gives you goosebumps!
At the end of the day, it’s another tool to take your job search or career journey up a notch, but all these tools add up. Make the most of every opportunity to give a great elevator pitch!
Do you have an elevator pitch? We’ve love to hear it in the comments.