How to pitch your value: Dissecting the elevator pitch

Posted by Amanda Augustine

November 14, 2012 @ 02:00 AM

Develop a strong elevator pitch that highlights your key skill sets, passions, and job goals. [TWEET]

interview_networking

Q: How do you implement the correct pitch with the right words that describe me and my skills?  - Gregory R. 

A: When you think about it, an elevator pitch is just one of the many methods you’ll use to communicate your personal brand to a potential employer.

As a job seeker, you instantly become a sales and marketing professional. You are now in the business of marketing your skills and expertise to people connected to your target job. Your messaging needs to be consistent across all of your branding channels, your resumecover letter, and online profiles; what you say when networking; and how you respond to questions in an interview

By taking the time to go through this exercise and craft your pitch, you will be better prepared to communicate your value through every phase of the job search.

Timing

You typically have 15 to 45 seconds to explain your intrinsic value to a potential employer. This is your “amuse bouche” to the conversation – your introduction and tagline. The idea is to whet the person’s appetite so they want to continue talking with you. Think about the TV commercials you watch – on average, they last between 15 to 60 seconds because researchers have found that anything longer causes viewers to switch channels or tune out. Similarly, you want your pitch to be short (and interesting) enough to hold the person’s attention.

Content

The elevator pitch is all about showing employers what you bring to the table – what you can do for them. In short, you want to explain: (1) who you are (2) what you are great at and passionate about, and (3) how your strengths will value a potential employer. Don’t try to stuff in too many details – stick to the three most important traits. Try this brainstorming exercise to help you create this pitch. 

Who are you?

Write down your name, job title and primary function.

What are you great at and passionate about?

Think back to your job goals. Why are you targeting this type of work in the first place? What do you like about it or find interesting? Don’t start with the formal, politically correct response you assume the recruiter is looking for. Be honest with yourself. Each time you write down a response, ask yourself “why?” again to see if you can dig any deeper.

How has your previous experience helped prepare you for this role? Consider the different projects and assignments you’ve completed during your career – what results have you produced? If possible, review previous performance evaluations or other forms of feedback you’ve received. What key skills or areas of expertise make you good at what you like to do?

How do your key strengths bring value to a potential employer?

Now that you’ve written down what you’re great at doing, it’s time to elaborate on the results you’ve produced. What accomplishments are you proud of? What were the tangible results? Did you increase revenue, cut costs, or make things run more efficiently? Try to think in terms of better, faster or cheaper. At the end of the day, what have you done for past employers?

Review everything you’ve written down. You may even want to read it aloud to a friend or family member to help brainstorm. What information sticks out to you? What’s memorable and shows your passion? Now, identify your hook. What's the nugget you want people to remember you for? This will become your tagline. For instance, when people ask me what I do, I usually use some form of the following:

My name is Amanda Augustine and I am a Job Search Expert and Career Coach. For more than ten years, I’ve worked with TheLadders to educate and prepare millions of professionals for the job-search process through the development of coaching programs, live recruiting events and online advice in my weekly column, Ask Amanda. I’ve dedicated almost 3 years to testing various techniques to identify the best ways to navigate the job search landscape in today’s marketplace. My passion is helping people find the right job, sooner.

In addition to this pitch, I recommend creating a short list of 3-5 stories you can use to demonstrate and quantify your work further. These “stories” should be simple talking points (think of the STAR approach) that you’ve thought through ahead of time. 

Delivery

Practice makes perfect. I don’t care how great the content is – if you recite your pitch in a monotone voice, you’re not going to impress anyone. Ask a friend or fellow job seeker to help you practice your pitch. I know it can be uncomfortable, but you need to practice saying your pitch out loud. The more you practice, the more natural it will feel. You can also try recording your pitch and playing it back to hear what you sound like. Consider the following points when critiquing your pitch:

  • Did you stay within the 15-45 second timeframe?
  • Were you talking too quickly, slowly, softly or loudly?
  • Was it conversational enough, or did it sound too rehearsed?
  • Were a lot of filler words (“um” “like”) or a particular phrase used repeatedly?
  • How was your energy level?
  • Did you sound confident?
  • Was it genuine?
  • Was it memorable?

Once you’ve got the basics down, consider how you would alter your pitch to suit different occasions. Think about how you would respond to the “tell me about yourself” question when you’re having a drink with some friends, versus what you would say during an industry trade show or networking event.

Deliver your personal branding statement with passion and sincerity, and you’ll be golden. 

Join TheLadders today to elevate your career.

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AmandaAugustine_JobSearchExpert_TheLadders_1-1Amanda Augustine is the Job Search Expert for TheLadders. She provides job search and career guidance for professionals looking to make their next career move. Have a question for Amanda? Submit your question here for a chance to have it answered in her weekly column, and be sure to follow her at @JobSearchAmanda on Twitter and “Like” her on Facebook for up-to-the-minute job-search advice.

Topics: Ask Amanda, Interview, Networking, Personal Branding