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The 5 Biggest Job Search Mistakes – #3: Lack of a Clear and Concise Elevator Pitch

elevator pitch

We speak with thousands of job seekers every year from almost every country, industry, job function, and seniority.

The bad news is that there are a lot of places people are stumbling in their search. The good news is that many of their job-search woes can be diagnosed and fixed. That’s why we created an on-demand class geared towards helping people overcome the 5 biggest job search mistakes (available here).

The third entry on the list (like networking) is something people know they need, but don’t spend any time on:

A Clear and Concise Elevator Pitch

Most people simply don’t have one, and they don’t have one because they don’t think it is important. Who really writes, practices, and recites an elevator pitch?

People who are noted for being able to articulate their value – that’s who.

An elevator pitch is more than just something you use to impress people at networking events, because it is a clear and concise summary of who you are, what value you bring, and how you are unique. This is something you are going to articulate in many scenarios including:

  • Branding Statement on LinkedIn
  • Cover Letter
  • Executive Summary Section of Resume
  • Answering “Tell me about your self” in an Interview
  • And Yes, When Networking

While the pitch might look different across all of the above areas, it is vital for you to create a statement that will reinforce your value across all of these channels. For example, the way you write your pitch in a cover letter will sound robotic or unnatural when spoken aloud. So practice your pitch before you use it!

To help you get going in writing an elevator pitch, here are the three most important components:

  1. What You Do – This should be more than your job title or the name of your current company. Choose a way to describe your job that makes you more than just a title – remember that your title is not unique, and different companies use different titles for the same role. Depending on the stage of your career or your goals, you might not want to mention a title at all. It can limit your options.
  2. How You Do It – Identify your top two or three talents, and express them in a few phrases. Are you obsessed with slashing production time or the creative brains behind several viral marketing campaigns? What makes you different than other people who have your job title? If you do something complicated that might be tough for your listener to understand, use a metaphor to tell the story. In other words, don’t give the same pitch at a meeting with developers as you would in a room of CEOs, where you might say, “Using my JavaScript and CSS skills, I create tools that people can put together to make their own apps, sort of like Legos for iPhone apps.”
  3. Why You Do It – This is where your personality and enthusiasm must come through to seal the deal. Your final sentence describes your passion and commitment, your motivation or the impact you want to make. That developer might spark interest with this pitch:  “I want to create a world where anyone can easily create an app, and not be constrained by huge costs or lack of technology skills. Imagine what people could create when these barriers are removed.”

As mentioned in point #2 – you may need to tailor your pitch for each recipient. For example, in an interview or in your cover letter, it will be very important to talk about what value you can bring to an employer. But when you are casually networking, you might come across as arrogant if you started talking about sales figures and clients you have closed. Instead, emphasize the ‘why you do it’ to leave a strong and lasting impression.

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