You may have heard of the "elevator pitch." It's a brief statement - 30 to 45 seconds long, give or take - of your job skills and qualifications and how you could utilize them for your next employer. It acts as an oral "professional summary." The reason it's called an elevator pitch (or "elevator speech") is that, in theory, you're supposed to imagine you're articulating the entire statement to a busy executive or hiring manager in the time it takes to complete an elevator ride.
It can also serve as an answer to the oft-asked job interview question "Tell me about yourself," as the basis for the Professional Summary that will appear on your resume, or as an ice breaker at a cocktail party when someone asks what you do.
If the statement is too long to be completed in an elevator ride, it could be too much for someone to absorb or could be a sign that you don't have a strong handle on the value you can offer an employer.
If you want to craft your own elevator pitch, start by asking yourself these six questions:
1) What am I really good at that makes a difference for an employer?
2) What have I accomplished in my career that was of great value to my employers?
3) What are the skills that have enabled me to achieve in my career?
4) What personal traits (or soft skills) do I have that complement those other skills?
5) Do my educational credentials (diplomas, degrees, professional certifications) enhance my employment background?
6) What kind of position, and at what level in the organization, am I looking for in my next career move?
Let's say you're a sales professional with 10 years of experience, the last five for a technology hardware vendor. Here's how you might answer each question:
1) I'm a sales professional with a solid track record, good at winning new business and generating repeat business. I live by the motto: "The client always comes first."
2) In each of the last five years, I have exceeded my sales quota and helped boost my company's market share in two industries.
3) I'm a whiz at web research, which allows me to target my sales pitches to what I believe are a client's pain points. My organizational skills are also solid, with much thanks to my PDA.
4) I have solid communication skills, especially listening. I like to listen more than I like to talk.
5) My bachelor's degree in business with a concentration in marketing has proven to be an excellent foundation for my sales career.
6) I'm looking for a high-profile sales role with a Fortune 500 technology hardware company that can use someone of my skill level to generate more business in a particular market segment or segments.
Now that you have the answers, put it all together in a brief paragraph:
I'm an experienced sales professional with a solid track record of winning new and repeat business for a technology hardware provider. I'd like to continue that success for a Fortune 500 provider that wants to generate more business in a particular market segment. In each of the past five years, I have exceeded my sales quota and helped boost my company's market share in two industries. My technological proficiency, particularly in web research and use of the PDA, complement my organizational and communication skills. I'm also a great listener and that helps me understand my clients' pain points and address their needs head-on. Since my college days as a business major with a concentration in marketing, I have been fascinated by the sales process and am driven by the impact I can have on a company's growth.
I read that out loud (well, not very loud) and it took exactly 40 seconds, long enough for a 10-floor elevator ride with two stops in between. Then the trick is trying to remember it all well enough that you can speak it flawlessly.
What about you? What have you accomplished in your career that would be part of your elevator pitch? Please share your thoughts with us.