,   |  February 29, 2016

How to create a killer elevator pitch

Whether you’re job searching or not, you need to have an elevator pitch. You’ll use it in networking scenarios, social settings, job interviews, conferences, and daily work interactions. I think we’ve all been caught in a situation without one and when asked, “What do you do?” have ended up rambling awkwardly. Never again!

In this post, we’ll walk through a step-by-step approach to creating a great elevator pitch. We’ll focus on one that you can use in a job search, but it can be easily adjusted for other situations.

Part 1: The Overview

This is a 10,000-foot view of who you are and what you’re up to from a professional perspective. It can be one or two lines.

Professional Example: Hi, I’m Stacey and I’ve been working in entertainment PR for the past 8 years.

Student Example: Hi, I’m Jen and I’m currently a junior at NYU studying communications and learning everything I can about pursuing a career in the marketing field. 

Part 2: The Present & Past

This is the part of your elevator pitch where you dive into your work experiences. You can start by sharing what you’re currently doing and then share other relevant parts of your background. The key here is the word relevant. Elevator pitches are intended to be short by nature so be careful not to dive into your full life story.

When you share your work experiences, don’t forget connect the dots on why you went from one to the next. Sharing consistent themes and/or how each one fits into the big picture will ensure your story feels cohesive.

If you’re using the pitch in a job search situation, ensure the experiences you’re sharing (and what you choose to highlight about each one) are relevant for the role you’re going for.

Professional Example: I’m currently working as a Senior Publicist at Fox, where I’ve been for the past 4 years. I mainly focus on [describe at a high level]. Prior to that I was a [title] at [company] and a [title] at [company]. These roles have enabled me to become very well-versed in entertainment PR and I’ve developed strong relationships with many publicists and media outlets.

Student Example: While in school, I’ve held a number of internships in the marketing and communications field. Last summer I was a [title] intern at [company] where I [what you did]. I am also the President of the Communications Club on campus where we [goal of the club]. Through these experiences, I’ve learned to use programs like [name them] and gained a strong understanding of [relevant concepts].

Part 3: The Future

If you are job searching, this part of the pitch is critical. This is your opportunity to tell the person on the other end what your future goals are. In certain situations your goals can be more vague and directional and in other situations your goals should be super specific.

Customizing this part of the pitch based on who you’re talking to and the nature of the conversation is key. As an example:

Networking Scenario Example: While I’m really enjoying my current role, I am ready to take the next step in my career looking for new roles where I can [describe what you’re looking for next]. 

Job Interview Example: At this point in my career, I am ready to pursue new opportunities where I can take what I’ve learned and apply it to a role where I can [describe aspects of the job you’re interviewing for that sounded exciting]. When I came across this role at [company] I thought it would be a perfect fit and was excited to apply.

You might also be perfectly content where you are or using this elevator pitch within your company. In that case, this part of the pitch will be much more focused on your goals in your current role or growth within the company.

Part 4: The Ask or Closing

Every pitch needs a closing – otherwise it ends up falling off a cliff and ending with, “aaanndddd, that’s pretty much it!” If you are going into a networking opportunity with a clear goal (like a career fair as an example) you also should add a closing that helps you execute on that goal.

Career Fair Example: When I noticed your company was going to be here, I knew I wanted to stop by as [company] is a place I’ve always wanted to work. I noticed on your website that you are hiring for [role] which I thought I could be a great fit for. I applied last week but I was wondering if there is anything else I can do to express my interest and meet the team.

Networking Scenario Example: If you happen to think of anyone I should connect with in the [insert] field, I’d love to meet them!

Job Interview Example: (following directly after the interview example from part 3) I’m really excited to be here discussing this role with you today so thank you so much for taking the time.

If you’re just networking casually, you can always end your pitch with a question for the person you’re speaking with. A simple, “How about you?” often does the trick!

Putting it all together

Once you take these four elements and write out your pitch, practice makes perfect! Commit to actually saying your pitch out loud a few times so you can make sure it flows nicely, makes sense, and that you’re super comfortable with it.

Many situations when you’re using your pitch will be high-stress ones, so you’ll be happy you took some time beforehand to get confident and know it cold!

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