Convey Your Value with an Elevator Pitch

elevator pitch

To market a business or attract investors, entrepreneurs need a pitch that explains what a company does, how it does it, and why.

In other words, they need to quickly explain the company’s value proposition.

If you are looking for a job, your elevator pitch must essentially do the same. You want to describe your value to potential employers. In just a minute or less, you need to tell people what you bring to the table—what you do, how you do it, and why.

Think of your elevator pitch as a movie trailer. You want to hook people with the highlights of your career story, not recite the whole movie of your life. You can talk more about details later in the conversation, or follow-up with an email or resume.

If you are currently working, you might think you don’t need a pitch. After all, you can say you are the Director of Marketing or that you are the head of IT.

But a lot of people have your job title.
 A lot of people have the same skills you do.

Your elevator pitch is your chance to stand out in an engaging, catchy way that will convince people that you are the person that can solve their problems.

An effective pitch covers a lot of ground – quickly. You want to let people know what you do and how you do it.  Perhaps more important is that you want to convey your personality and uniqueness. You want to get them interested in you–their motivated, interesting, talented colleague. By expressing your passion for your work or your business in your pitch–both in what you say and how you say it–you will ignite other people’s interest in you.

When You Need to Use Your Pitch

Once you craft your pitch, you will find it more useful than you might have thought, both when searching for a job and for building your career and contacts.

The written version of your pitch can be used:

  • As the summary of your career at the top of your resume
  • As your career “story” on social profiles

A spoken version of your pitch can be used:

  • At networking events
  • To answer the question, “what do you do?” when meeting potential employers  or to open interview discussions
  • When meeting colleagues from other departments or divisions
  • When meeting potential clients
  • When pitching your own business to clients, customers, or investors

 Common Pitch Mistakes

If you’ve been to even a single networking event, you’ve probably listened–cringing, or bored–as someone you’ve just met prattled on about their work. Other people are so uncomfortable talking about themselves or meeting people that they mutter something bland while staring at their shoes.

When you are speaking your elevator pitch, you want to hit the right balance of information and enthusiasm–the latter can usually carry you far.

Here are the 3 biggest mistakes:

  1. Sounding Like a Robot – Be professional, but don’t be boring. If you don’t sound excited, or interested in your career, the person listening won’t be either.
  2. Rambling – If you haven’t refined and practiced your pitch, you may go on rambling about the small details of your experience, education, even your personal life.
  3. Focusing on the Past – Your pitch shouldn’t detail what you have accomplished at every company you’ve worked for over the years. Instead, showcase your major achievement or your story in order to show that you can solve the other person’s problems.

Avoiding those traps is a lot easier of you take the time to craft a compelling pitch and practice it until it feels entirely natural. Then get out and start using it.

About the Author

Susan Price has been writing about careers, entrepreneurs and personal finance for more than a decade. She’s been an editor at BusinessWeek, Money, and, among others.