How to Create an Elevator Pitch for Job Seekers
You have probably heard of cases where a struggling unemployed job seeker bumps into an
executive in an elevator and motivates the executive to hire them using a sure-fire speech.
Then everything works out for them from that moment on.
That is a typical example of an elevator pitch. But do you need an elevator pitch-type of speech when you are preparing for a job interview? Absolutely! Even if your resume is detailed and your application is perfect, the recruiter/employer may overlook some crucial points in your professional experience. It is up to you to bring the metrics of your performance to their attention. That is where an elevator pitch comes in handy.
What is an Elevator Speech/Pitch?
By definition, it is a concise, memorable description, or “commercial,” of what you do and
how the listener might help you. It usually takes 30 seconds to 1 minute and acts to catch
the listener’s attention. It is impossible to sell yourself or your product immediately with this type of speech. Rather, the aim is to pique the listener’s interest so much that they agree to see you in a job interview or feel compelled to ask more questions. Which, in turn, can lead to them seeing you as the best fit for the position.
You have probably already come across variations of the business elevator speech during
your job hunt while working on your resume and cover letter. And even if you did, but still
doubt their quality, you can explore the best tips and templates at the Get Cover Letter site.
These tips could help you to create your own great elevator speech. You can also try some
specific online generators.
Where is an Elevator Speech/Pitch Used?
A perfect elevator pitch to land a job can be used on many occasions, but is typically
reserved for professional settings. You can launch your pitch at the person of your interest at a networking event or you can present yourself at job interviews.
What to Say
In order to put together an elevator pitch about yourself, use the following format as a guide.
- Who are you? Start with a short introduction. Just your name and a
position/profession. I’m Martha Lepere, nice to meet you.
- Give some background. In a succinct form, tell where you currently work or where
you studied. I graduated from UCLA and I’m a PR major. If you are not entry-level,
you don’t need to talk about your college education. I’m a sales rep at Holdings
Incorporated. We sell furniture just like you.
- Provide context. Make sure you explain what kind of school you graduated from/company you worked in. I graduated from the Northern Virginia Community College known for their PR program.
- Make the connection. Always tailor your speech to the target audience. Ask yourself, why do you want the person next to you to listen. I know all about your company. I’ve read about your latest innovations and how they positively impacted the community.
- Make the ask. You should be clear what you want from the person you’re addressing
your elevator pitch. From an executive, you would probably want an internship while
from a professor on economics you might want mentorship, right? So let them know
about it clearly. I’m looking for an internship for next summer. I’d love to connect with
you and find out how to apply and get to the top of your list.
- Closeout. Regardless of their response, you react with politeness and kindness. Don’t linger and don’t talk for too long. Thank you so much. I’ll certainly stay in touch/make sure to email you right after this. It was so nice meeting you. These are the basic elements of any elevator speech you need to work out beforehand. They can be supplemented by other elements according to the type of elevator speech you need.
Types of Elevator Speech
It is difficult to single out distinct types of elevator speeches because they largely depend on the audience, the occasion, and the purpose. For example, an elevator pitch for career fairs will not fit for a job interview, as an elevator speech for an interview involves more interaction than a networking event.
Main Rules of Writing an Elevator Speech
- Catch the listener’s attention. Whether in front of a job interview panel or an
unfamiliar executive at a career fair, the first thing to do is to grab the listener’s
attention. Given the professional setting, it could be an issue that you both relate to
or a common problem in the professional field.
- Spark interest. Tell the listener about your way to deal with the issue.
- Elaborate. Give more details as to what exactly you do and what results your
- Answer the listener’s questions. At this point, if you caught their attention, the
listener will likely want to clarify a thing or two.
Elevator Pitch Examples
The following is an example of how a typical elevator pitch may go:
– Hello, I’m Alicia Borrows.
– Nice to meet you Alicia.
– You probably know that salesperson turnover rate can be as high as 75% and
companies lose money on finding replacements due to the costs of training [you
caught their attention by identifying a common issue].
– Yup, that’s a problem.
– One of the main reasons that salespeople leave a company is due to a lack of
connection with leadership [you sparked their interest].
– I spearheaded a program directed at both employees and management where they
played sports games together during lunch breaks. In one month, the turnover rate
stopped growing. In 6 months, it dropped by 34% [you told what you did and
informed the result].
– Alicia, that sounds like a simple yet effective idea. How did you get… [you answer
the questions and give details.]
How to Write an Elevator Speech? (With Sample Elevator Pitches for a Job Interview)
Focus on the Listener
As soon as you understand who your listener is, you have to come up with something of use for them. Remember, the people listening to you are not interested in the details of your career, unless there is something in it for them. They are all going to listen with one main question in mind, “What’s in it for me?” If the answer is obviously nothing, you will quickly lose their attention.
As an example, you could start your speech with “I’ve worked for over a decade as a med
sales representative and have a strong track record.” Pretty generic, agreed? Your speech
will sound more impressive if you add more detail, “I’m a med sales representative with a
strong track record in exceeding sales goals and servicing client accounts.” By choosing
benefit-focused words to describe your experience and accomplishments, you’ve made It
easier to prove your professional worth.
Work on the Structure
How long should an elevator pitch be? 30 sec on average. As an alternative, some experts
suggest that candidates measure their speech not in seconds, but in how many words you
have time to say. In an actual brief encounter between floors on an elevator, this would be
around 20 words, on average.
So make sure the structure of the pitch is clear and answers three questions:
Who are you?
What do you do?
What do you want from the listener?
Write it down
Start brainstorming ideas and jotting them down. Then organize them into different speeches that can be used on different occasions.
Forbes author Nancy Collamer suggests that candidates put all their strong points, skills,
and achievements on paper, keeping in mind the prospective employer that will be talked to.
Next, edit your text, trimming down odd bits and phrases that are irrelevant or excessive.
The more time you spend polishing your speeches, the more comfortable you’ll get at
preparing them. Get the hang of writing elevator speech examples, and you will eventually
be able to do it in your sleep.
Prepare a few variations
Remember to keep the audience in mind. Do not use one variant of an elevator pitch to fire
at all potential employers. A more casual, personal variant of the elevator pitch can be used
as a party starter. A more formal one will fit when you come across the executive you
wanted to meet for some time. In one instance, you may really have only 15 seconds, while in other instances, the listener may have time to listen longer and ask questions. You need to be prepared for any situation and be ready to answer questions promptly without
So prepare a number of elevator speeches ranging in time from 15 seconds to two minutes.
And come up with a number of talking points that you can change and elaborate on,
depending on the context and circumstances.
Practice makes perfect. Practice saying your elevator pitch, in various forms, until you no
longer feel anxious and are completely at ease.
It is a good idea to rehearse it in front of a mirror, recording yourself while speaking using
your smartphone or a camera. However, avoid sounding rehearsed in delivery. Your aim is
to sound and look as conversational and natural as possible.
Control the tempo of your speech. It is easy to get into a habit of speaking too fast when you are racing with the clock. But avoid speaking too quickly, as a way of cramming more
information about yourself into less time. This will backfire. You’ll just tire down the listener.
When you are ready, practice your speech again, but with your friends. Take their
commentary and feedback into consideration and keep polishing your elevator speeches.