elevator pitch

Elevator Pitch: Your Personal Commercial

By Samuel Garcia

The President of the United States steps into your elevator, introduces himself to you, and then says, “Tell me about yourself.” You have, perhaps, 15-45 seconds to make a positive impact. What would you say?

You walk into the reception area of the company to pick up a job application. As the receptionist hands you the form, the hiring manager steps up and asks, “Tell me: Why should we hire you?” What would you say?

The elevator pitch can be a highly-effective communication/marketing tool. In addition to being highly effective, it can, also, be highly versatile.

Communication: A Most Favored Skill

Like it or not, we are judged (and we also judge others) by language skills. Busy people appreciate brief, concise, and effective communication, be it verbal or written. Hiring managers, recruiters and human resources department managers appreciate job candidates that cut to the chase and show how they can bring value, solve problems, or ease the pain of it all through success-directed results via pithy elevator pitches customized just for them.

You Are the Product

Opportunities abound but they can, easily, disappear when we are not prepared to market ourselves effectively. Telemarketers know all about their products and they can quickly show you how your success or happiness depends on what they are selling. They use customized elevator speeches to deliver their message and compel you to buy-in to their products and services. They help you see their value by showing you how the benefits you receive outweigh the cost.

Vendors can become especially attractive when they have a truly unique product you likely cannot find elsewhere. Showing your Unique Selling Proposition, that which sets you apart from your competitors, can make you highly attractive. But you must be able to identify the right customers, in this case the right employers, who will appreciate what it is you have to offer. You must know what they most want and show them how you are uniquely qualified to deliver that to them.

What Employers Want to Know About You

First and foremost, employers want to know that you can do the job. If your résumé and cover letter don’t deliver that message clearly, they are discarded much the same way one may be discarded when a sales pitch goes bad. Your elevator pitch should be a quick and effective way to deliver that message. Employers, generally, try to hire the best qualified. Oftentimes, what they get is not the best qualified but the best communicators. You might say that the best way to get a job is by figuring out what the employer wants best. It stands to reason that you must be the best at communicating that you are the best candidate to deliver what it is they want.

Here’s How

First: Since employers want the best qualified candidates, it makes perfect sense to start your personal commercial with an accomplishment statement that exemplifies what you can do for them with your qualifications:

I have been promoted in every sales position I have held over the past 10 years for increasing the size and sales levels of my customer base which, in turn, has increased the profits of my employers. I can contribute this same success in the sales executive position you have posted on your LinkedIn Website.

The idea is to make your example specifically relevant to the position and to “Wow” their socks off!

Second: State your qualifications by telling them about your education, training, experience, and credentials that specifically qualify you to perform the job. Leave out anything not specifically relevant and necessary or they might label you as unfocussed or as “over-qualified”.

Third: Mention those key skills they most favor and expect whether they are job-specific skills or soft skills. Give a result example to demonstrate what you can do for them with a skill, or combination of skills, you know to by “key” to successful job performance:

As a regional sales manager, I developed 25 new clients within a two-month period and generated new business within 50 targeted regions researched.

At this point, you have grabbed their attention and wowed them with an accomplishment statement. You have mentioned the skills most important to them and have demonstrated that you understand the job. You have provided a results statement that exemplifies your ability to use those skills to deliver that kind of results that will contribute to the success of the company. In effect, you have established that you can perform the job!

Fourth: Employers want individuals that fit the company personally as well as professionally. Tell them about your personal and professional characteristics that substantiate you are a perfect match for the job.

Let’s suppose the employer is seeking someone that can develop effective strategies, can organize others, can work well in a group situation, doesn’t easily give up when faced with difficult challenges, is highly motivated and consistently strives for excellence. Perhaps the following example may convey such attributes:

I am a great strategist, organizer and team player with a can do attitude. I am passionate about my job and consistently work hard toward being the very best at what I do.

By now, you have established that you can do the job and that you are a perfect match for the position and the company.

Finally: Wrap up your pitch with the most appropriate closure for the occasion. If you wish to engage the other person in the conversation, you might say:

Could your company use someone like me on its team?

If they answer to the affirmative, you’re on your way. If they answer negatively, you can follow-up by asking if they know anyone that might be interested in someone with your skills.

If you are at a job interview or are approaching a hiring manager with your pitch, you might simply close your pitch by saying something along the lines of:

Thank you for the opportunity to spend these few moments with you. I am excited about the thought that I might have the opportunity to be part of your team!

Recap of the Formula

There are many formulas for elevator pitches. A web search will yield numerous results. The idea is that if you don’t have one, develop one. If you have one, keep adapting and building on it. An elevator pitch is a key that can take many forms and unlock some interesting doors.

Remember: Your pitch must match the requirements of the job exactly. Here is a summary of how this formula works:

  1. Open with an accomplishment statement that wows
  2. State your qualifications for the position
  3. Mention the key skills you possess and provide a relevant result example
  4. Show them you are a perfect match for the job both personally and professionally
  5. Wrap-Up your pitch with a closure appropriate for the occasion

Just Do It but Do It Well!

An elevator pitch/personal commercial can take many forms. Tailor the length to the occasion. Variables such as duration, content, order of key points being communicated, etc., should be customized to the needs or requirements of the party to whom you are delivering your pitch.

Sometimes we meet influential persons and have no idea they are a VIP. Knowing that in advance can help to plan and tailor a more specifically impressive pitch. Use it at family gatherings, parties, job fairs, job interviews, networking events, and more.

Practice makes perfect! In no time you will develop a versatile repertoire of impressive personal commercials for just about any occasion. In addition to being impressive, you will also be memorable and will set yourself apart from the faceless masses of jobseekers out to compete against you in a tough job market such as the one in which we find ourselves in today.