What is an Elevator Pitch?
An elevator pitch is at its core, a sales pitch. In this context, what you are selling isn't a product but a service, it's essentially YOURSELF. It's a short 30-60 second self-introduction that summarizes who you are, what you do, your experience, your future goals, and why employers should be interested to hire you. Picture yourself walking into an elevator with a potential employer. Now convince them that you are the right candidate for the job before the elevator reaches its stop and the potential employer steps out. Do they hand you a business card and ask you to get in touch? Or do they brush you off politely? It all comes down to your pitch.
Where Do You Execute Your Elevator Pitch?
Elevator pitches are heard often during networking events, career fairs, and at the start of formal and informal interviews. It's actually a great way to answer the classic interview question, "Tell me about yourself." It's also handy to have in your back pocket when you need to introduce yourself during, for example, orientation week at school, business meetings when someone or everyone is new to the table, informational interviews with working professionals, or just meeting new people in professional settings in general.
A Good Elevator Pitch:
Lasts approximately 60 seconds
Has a shortened 30-second version
Highlights your best qualifications
Is concise and straight to the point
Is relevant and tailored to your targeted audience. For example, prior to a career fair, you should do some research to understand which employers will be present and formulate your pitch specifically around their interests and needs
Is logically structured & organized
Captivates the listener into wanting to know more about you
Sparks the listener's interest in considering you for a position or at least continuing the conversation with you
Flows naturally; doesn't sound rehearsed
How to Structure Your Elevator Pitch
A good elevator pitch should address these 4 points:
Who you are
What you are seeking
What you offer. In other words, what is your value proposition?
Note that you could switch the order of 2 and 3 if you think that this would make your pitch flow more smoothly. But always start off by introducing who you are, followed by what you are seeking or what you offer, before you move on to a conversation starter. Most employers are already accustomed to pitches in this order (whether they know it or not). While you could certainly surprise the employers by mixing things up – it may distract the employers and prevent them from fully absorbing your pitch. Practice with friends and family until it flows naturally and sounds unrehearsed.
Who you are
First, introduce yourself. Tell the employer your name, your academic standing, your major, relevant courses that you studied, your career goal, your strengths, etc. For example, "My name is Mark. I just completed my marketing degree from ABC University which I've recently been putting into practice by devising a social strategy to boost the number of followers I have on several of my social media channels." Briefly talk about any relevant hobbies and passions as well to give the employer a more well-rounded picture of who you are. Try not to spend too much time on this section; you want to focus your efforts on describing what you offer.
What you are seeking
Be bold. Tell the employers exactly what you are looking for. Are you seeking an internship? Are you interested to learn more about a certain company? Are you interested to learn about growth potential in a specific role at a certain company?What is your objective in presenting this pitch? What are you hoping to achieve?
What you offer
This is the most important part of your pitch. You will describe your skills, experience, and how they are relevant to your objective through concrete evidence and examples. Try to focus on elaborating one or two points instead of listing everything you have. Put yourself in the employers’ shoes and think from their perspective. Don’t just tell the employers how you meet the qualifications. Instead, you should let the employers know what you can bring to the table. What do you offer? How could you use your skills and experience to positively impact and benefit the company?
For example, "I have 3 years of customer service experience working at Company X". This merely shows that you meet the qualification of having previous customer service experience. A better statement would be "Working as a customer service representative at Company X, I’ve been working on developing strong communication skills through working closely on a daily basis with more than 50 clients from a variety of industry sectors". You could also add another sentence after this to express how you could effectively use this transferable skill to excel at the employer's company.
In the end, this pitch really isn’t about you; it’s about the employers that you are pitching to. Remember to always tailor your pitch to the employer's needs and what they are looking for. What’s in it for them? Why should they help you achieve your goal? What value-add do you bring? Ask questions to understand their challenges and respond with what kinds of solutions you could bring to the table.
Give the employers something to continue the conversation. Remind the employers of your objective and express your enthusiasm and drive towards achieving it. Communicate how achieving your objective will help you grow, and how this aligns with your future goals. Describe what you hope will happen as a result of this meeting without being too presumptuous. Reiterate your interest in the industry or sector, or simply ask a leading question such as "Could you tell me more about the internship opportunities with your company?" to encourage and stimulate the conversation.