Unfortunately, the vast majority of elevator speeches are long enough to last the time it takes to ride the elevator to the top of Toronto’s CN Tower. Eyes roll back in respective heads and sleep beckons.
Following are the elements of an effective elevator ‘pitch’, as opposed to a speech, to help you land a new job.
First, much like the fact that the urban speed limit in most of the country is 50 kph. You should limit your pitch to about 50 seconds.
An elevator pitch should also contain the following:
- Your name (See, this isn’t so hard.)
- What you do (Be specific.)
- What you bring to the table for a company (This ain’t about you!)
- Why you would be an asset to a company (Your value proposition.)
Some people insist that you need to include a list of companies that you are interested in, but experience shows that candidates only mention large corporations, which is a mistake. It’s more important to clearly state what it is that you do, remembering that you are pitching to people who might not understand.
Add an example of how what you do is used in companies. The more specific you can get, without being overly technical, the better. Strangely enough, the more specific you are about what you do, the more likely someone will be able to “see” you doing that something, or be able to make an association.
Even though most of us have worn a lot of hats in our professional careers, few companies are seeking generalists (especially big companies). They are looking for specialists. The best way to explain this is visually: Take a funnel, look through the small opening, and then through the large opening. You see more looking through the small end than you can peering through the large end. Similarly, if you give people a laundry list of things you can do, they probably cannot see you doing any one thing.
For example, there are a lot of different accountants, IT professionals, sales people, etc. It is what kind you are and what you do that makes a difference for companies.
Most of all, you should follow the 3-R’s:
- Write it (so it can be distilled to only the essentials)
- Rehearse it (so that it comes naturally)
- Recite it (to everyone you are near)
Retirement coach Nancy Collamer wrote a very good article for Forbes on elevator pitches: it is called The Perfect Elevator Pitch to Land a Job and you should read it.
If you are performing an Elevator Pitch, you are networking. After making your pitch, which will likely be soon forgotten, you need to add a few ways to stand out and stay top of mind:
- Offer your business card.
- Ask for their business card. (make a note on the back side)
- Ask if it would be alright to send a LinkedIn connection request.
- Follow-up within 24 hours with the connection request!
- Thank your new connection with a brief note and attachment.
Your attachment should be a one-page Marketing Plan (Business Plan). This brief document should remind your new connection of what you do, or want to do (similar to the summary statement on your resume and limited to about three lines). Offer a couple bullet points of accomplishments, or a set of columns of your Value Proposition that displays what you bring to the table for a company. Then, you should list a small number of target companies where your new friend may have a contact.
These small extra steps can be the difference between unemployment and actually getting hired.
Dana Wilson is a freelance writer.