Regardless of which industry you’ve decided to pursue your career in, you’ll eventually come across the same timeless questions, namely “What do you do?”, “Tell us more about yourself” and even a “What is your background?” occasionally thrown in for good measure.
This is where your elevator pitch comes in – you have 60 seconds or less to deliver an effective impression, and let the other parties know about the industry you’re interested in, your accomplishments and your skills.
Before we go any deeper, let’s first look at what an elevator pitch is. An elevator pitch plays on the idea that you’ll bump into an influential person in an elevator. In that limited period of time, you have to effectively promote yourself before you arrive at their floor…and leave your listener interested enough to invite you to a second meeting!
Even if you’re not in an elevator, you still have 60 seconds or less to make a great first impression before you lose your listener’s attention!
As such, these pitches can be used at formal events like career fairs or networking sessions, or even informal sessions companies host or birthday parties. By delivering an effective elevator pitch, you can quickly kickstart a conversation on a good note and create a positive first impression!
You have 60 seconds
A good elevator pitch rarely exceeds 60 seconds. It should also be concise enough that you shouldn’t have to rush your way through just so you can cram more words in. Think carefully about the most important skills and information you would like to share about yourself, and simplify them into “bite-sized” pieces that your listener can digest quickly.
However, also take note that an elevator pitch is not a sales pitch!
How to summarise yourself
When recruiters say “give us a summary about yourself”, they’re not looking for something like, “Hi, I’m Cherie, I’m a fresh graduate and I’m 22 years old.” Neither do they want to hear about your hobbies, your first major fight with your university groupmates, or your favourite food(s).
What they really want is a quick recap of your academic and work experience, as well as your reason(s) for applying to them. An easy way to go about this is to find a theme you’re comfortable with, and stick to it. This can revolve around your chosen field of study in university, or even specific causes you’re passionate about.
When you’ve found your theme, turn your attention to your academic background, relevant past experiences, goals and skill sets. Figure out what’s important and make sure to keep your points clear and concise – you’re looking to give recruiters a quick glimpse into who you are. When you have settled on what you want to emphasise, craft these pointers into a speech that flows well, rather than just throwing out some disjointed facts. Remember: you’re not looking to get a job today – you’re looking to leave a memorable and good first impression!
Practise, practise, practise!
When put in the spotlight, many candidates often falter and leave less-than-great first impressions of themselves. This is exactly what you want to avoid! A big part of a successful elevator pitch can be traced to the amount of practice you’re willing to put into it.
One of the best ways to practise is to find a willing volunteer and practise your pitch on them. Keep asking them to point out if you sound awkward or nervous, as well as how you can improve on it. The time spent practising will later stand you in good stead, especially if you’re an introvert!