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Sell Yourself (in) Short

November 15, 2011 by Careerminds

Jennifer Fry
Careerminds Consultant

The concept of the “elevator pitch” may or may not be something you know about, but the fact it is, you should. Pitching isn’t just for selling products to customers or strategies to your boss; it’s for selling yourself, too, and the elevator pitch is a tool that job seekers use to sell themselves in a short period of time—typically 30-60 seconds, or as long as the average elevator ride (get it?).

Imagine yourself strolling through a job fair or a networking event, approaching the representative for the company you’ve had your eye on, only to realize once you get there that you’ve got nothing say. Or maybe you forgot an important piece of information, only to remember it after you walk away. There goes that opportunity. But, fear not. The possibility of finding yourself in these sticky situations is exactly why you need to craft a prepared pitch, maybe several to choose from depending on the situation. Composing and having prepared an elevator pitch allows you the luxury of knowing just the right thing to say to get a potential employer’s or an important connection’s attention and to effectively communicate what makes you valuable and unique.

The idea is to keep it short, but all the while be specific and provide evidence for the claims you’re making about yourself. You’re organized? How so? You say you’re creative? Tell them what you’ve done in a creative capacity—adjectives like “creative” and “organized” are broad and abstract, so use an example or anecdote to provide greater perspective. Brief examples not only express the qualities you embody, they illustrate exactly how you can use them to your benefit and the benefit of their organization.

To guide you further in the right direction, try sticking to what are known as the nine Cs:

  1. Concise: wordiness won’t get you far on a 30-60 second elevator ride.
  2. Clear: steer clear of confusing language, jargon, etc.
  3. Compelling: remember, just listing arbitrary traits won’t compel anyone.
  4. Credible: set yourself up as the best qualified for the job.
  5. Conceptual: keep your pitch thematically consistent.
  6. Concrete: remember to be specific.
  7. Customized: keep your audience in mind—craft more than one pitch so you’re prepared for every occasion.
  8. Consistent: every pitch you make should convey the same basic message(s).
  9. Conversational: avoid the “used car salesman” shtick—the end goal of the pitch is to maintain the dialogue you’ve started.

Having an elevator pitch or maybe even an entire arsenal of pitches to choose from will set you up to make the right connections whenever the opportunity presents itself, be that in a formal networking or job search setting, or even chance encounters in an elevator or the line at the supermarket.

Check out this past blog entry for more tips on how to construct the perfect elevator pitch, and feel free to share your own elevator pitch in a comment!

Careerminds provides scalable, strategic solutions to organizations seeking affordable, web-based outplacement services. Using a Web 2.0 e-learning platform that delivers affordable, online career transition services, Careerminds provides a high-tech and high-touch blend of on-demand career transition education supported by senior-level career consultants to help displaced workers reenter the workforce quickly.

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