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Develop Your Elevator Pitch

By Don Goodman

You are at a conference on the elevator going back to your room. The doors open and the venture capitalist who just announced he is looking for a dozen talented people gets on.

You have 20 seconds to get him interested in talking with you.

Your summary of who you are and the value you offer is called the "Elevator Pitch" and is crucial to your establishing a competitive advantage in your job search.   Here are some tips to develop yours.

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First, understand the purpose and construction of the elevator pitch.

  • The purpose is just to get a conversation started.

    Your pitch does not have to go into your career history, it is just intended to gain enough interest for someone to want to know more. It needs to be easy to understand and very compelling
  • It’s about them - not about you.

    Your pitch has to convey that you have talent that would be valuable to the employer. So just saying "I have 15 years of networking experience" does not make you memorable or valuable. A good pitch will explain the problems you can solve.
  • It needs to be clear and concise.

    No one wants to listen to a long-winded summary filled with acronyms. Keep it simple and conversational.

Here are 5 steps for you to construct your elevator pitch.

  1. Start by writing down the top 10 things you accomplished.

    This is a great exercise as it helps you remember things you have not thought about for a long time. Use the C-A-R process; what was the Challenge, what Action did you take and what was the Result? At this point you are doing a brain dump so don’t try to wordsmith, just get the information on paper. Don’t worry about length. Try to tell a story for each one and make sure you can describe the tangible results of each effort (e.g. saved the project from going 3 months past deadline).
  2. Develop a theme.

    Look at what you wrote and see if there is a theme. Is your experience centered around specific technologies or a style of performance? For example, are you the person management assigns to turnaround troubled projects? Are you the go-to person for complex network issues? Are you the resident Subject Matter Expert for HTML5?

    Think about your peers and the issues management would come to you over others.
  3. Now condense each story down to 1 paragraph.
    Remember to keep the writing conversational. Focus on the challenge/situation and result.

    For example:

    "When our new mobile app looked like it was going to miss its deadline by 2 months, I’m the HTML5 subject matter expert who put it back on track."

    "When our new SAP implementation was not allowing us to meet our month-end close schedule, I’m the ABAP programmer who made it happen."

  4. Rank each of the stories.

    Order the stories in terms of their impact in describing your talent and impressing them with results. Remember that you might want to have multiple pitches so you may have different ranks for different themes.

    As an example, if you are talking to someone at a small company, the ability to be a "jack of all trades" and jump into any situation is valuable. Conversely, if you are pitching to a large more siloed company, focusing on a core skill is more in order.
  5. Now put it all together.

    Start by stating your theme and then give one to three short statements that prove it.

    Your final pitch should be very conversational and easy for you to remember and say.

Don’t rush; you may even want to sit on it for a day or so and then rethink it. Practice it on your family and colleagues and see what they say. Get feedback and continue to revise it until you are fully comfortable.

Bottom Line:

This exercise will help you convey your value and is essential to your networking and job search efforts, so put as much time as you need in this until you have an impressive pitch that makes someone want to know more.


About the author...

Don Goodman is a triple-certified nationally recognized career professional (Expert Resume Writer, Certified Career Coach, and Job Search Strategist) with over 20 years of experience helping thousands of people quickly land their next job. A graduate of the Wharton School of Business and Stanford University’s Executive Program,


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