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How—and why—to craft an elevator pitch for your job search

Think of it as your go-to script when networking or pitching yourself in an interview.

How—and why—to craft an elevator pitch for your job search
[Photo: Jason Dent/Unsplash]
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These days there’s not much need for an elevator pitch—at least not a real elevator pitch that’s delivered when your CEO steps into the elevator. After all, remote working has kept most of us out of our offices, not to mention elevators.

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But there is still a need to have a concise pitch when you’re searching for a job. It will focus your thinking, center you on your value, and save you from delivering messages that are too general or too scattered. It’s your go-to script when networking or pitching yourself in an interview.

The following five steps will enable you to craft a first-rate pitch that can be customized for each encounter.

1. Create your message

Begin by writing out in one sentence why you are deserving of the job you have in mind.

This message is the heart of your elevator pitch. All good pitches boil down to one idea. For example, yours might be: “I have a strong track record in HR, and I believe my accomplishments will be an asset to your firm.” Another might be: “I’m a sales executive with extensive retail experience of the kind this role requires.” Still another: “As a CFO in three consulting firms, I bring strong industry experience to this key role.”

Notice a few things about these messages. They position the candidate as a person who has been successful. They show how that background will enable the candidate to be a high achiever in the new job. And the language is confident: no caveats (possibly, maybe), no tentative verbs (I think, I feel, I might), and no filler words (um, ah, well). 

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2. Design your opening

Next, create an opening that builds rapport with your audience. This will precede your message and be customized for each occasion. If you’re talking to the recruiter, your opening might be: “I’ve studied this position and your company, and I am excited by what I see.”

If you’re talking to a family friend who’s an executive in the company you’re applying to, you might begin, “I appreciate your meeting with me. I would welcome any advice you can give me about how I might nail a job I’ve applied for in your company’s HR department.”

In an actual elevator, such an opening would be improvised, but when you know you’ll be meeting with someone, you have time to create that warm introduction.

3. Add proof points

Once you’ve created your opening and message statement, you’ll want to provide proof that you are indeed well-positioned for the job you’re applying for.

Give two to four reasons why you feel qualified for this role. For example:

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  • “My track record includes administering our benefits program.”
  • “It also involved designing and overseeing an employee satisfaction program.”
  • “Finally, I have led a team of 12, and we have surpassed all our targets.”

If you’ve had a series of positions, you might instead structure your points chronologically, showing how you’ve built your credentials from one job to the next.

4. End with action

The last component of your elevator pitch is the call to action. It describes next steps. This is perhaps the toughest part of your elevator script, because it involves an “ask.”

Let’s say you are talking to someone who works in the same firm you’re applying to. Your call to action might be a request for him to provide a reference, or make a call on your behalf.

If you’re closing off a conversation with a recruiter, your call to action might be “I love what I’ve heard, I’m looking forward to next steps, and I trust that you will be in touch soon. When can I expect to hear from you?” Notice that this assumes there will be a next step! If you’ve done well in the interview, you should make this assumption.

5. Put it all together

The final step in crafting your elevator pitch is to put all these components together. For each encounter it will be customized. And you won’t necessarily deliver the entire script all at once. You may deliver the opening, and two minutes later deliver your message, and a few minutes later your proof points, closing off at the end with your call to action. What the elevator pitch does is provide you with a narrative thread that successfully sells you and your worth.

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For further insight into how to build elevator pitches, see my book, Impromptu: Leading in the Moment.