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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Your Personal Elevator Pitch

Can you highlight your resume in an elevator ride?

Marketers and public relations specialists know that in many situations you have just the time it takes for an elevator ride to grab the attention of a reporter. Hence, the phrase “elevator pitch”, came to explain the amount of time you have to explain your business or pitch your story. Can this correlate to your personal elevator pitch when it comes to sharing the key aspects of your career with someone?

A career coaching company in New York suggests a two-minute pitch. That isn’t how long it should take to “get to” your point, but it should take no longer than two minutes to share the best points of your career with a tiny bit of embellishment. Richard Skaare, a communications specialist, suggests that your resume should be able to be boiled down to the 140 – 160 characters you would use in a text message. Now, those two concepts work in concert with each other. To verbalize and expound on the 160 characters could take about 2 minutes.

Unless you are in that dream situation - sitting on the Metra next to someone who just happens to need someone with your exact skill set - the concept of using a 160 character resume is reserved for Twitter or a text message. The principle behind both thoughts mentioned above is you need to know exactly who you are, what skills you own, and how you have used them. Better still you need to be able to communicate those same things in a short, cohesive, cognizant statement if time is limited.

A couple of situations where your elevator pitch will work perfectly are networking events or job fairs. Yes, you may hand someone your “real” professionally prepared resume, but, what will you say to that job fair representative that will make him/her put your resume in the “second look” pile. What will you say to those you meet at a networking event that will pique their interest and entice them to spend more time with you, finding out more about you in greater detail?

Creating your Personal Elevator Pitch

You want to include a few key statements about yourself:

  1. Your position – I am an architect – This is your key statement
  2. General Experience – in commercial development for 10 years – this gives listeners an idea of what level of expertise you have.
  3. Your sub-pitch – I’ve supervised over xx projects ranging from 10,000 square feet to 130,000 square feet in 20 major metropolitan areas
  4. Add interest - including Singapore, New York, Chicago, and Little Rock.
  5. Apply it to your listener – My concepts attract new business from companies like …. – if you are using your pitch in a cover letter or interview, direct this last portion of your pitch to create a comparison to the business situation, perhaps their direct competition if possible.

Let’s go back to the 160 characters. Forced brevity sharpens the mind. Work with a trusted friend or counselor to keep your pitch brief. Just as in creating new marketing ideas, you may need to brainstorm ways to keep the word count down.

Using your Personal Elevator Pitch

You have created your personal pitch, but if you don’t memorize it, practice it and know how to modify it depending upon your audience, you could end up stammering and jabbering just as if you didn’t take all the time to create your pitch in the first place.

Tell me about yourself is a typical question you will be asked on any interview. When asked, you want your personal elevator pitch to just flow. To do that you need to write out your pitch, memorize it, practice it in front of a mirror, a family member, your employment and training rep, your dog, or the car in front of you in line at the drive-through. You want the words to just flow.

You want your message to be crystal clear. Refer to it enough throughout the interview, that if the interviewer is asked to tell their boss about you when your interview is done, you know how they will position you after you leave.

Remember that when you are speaking, use a personal level. Standards today are based on the medium of TV, using a conversational style that is friendly and one-on-one. Speak as if you are speaking to an acquaintance and tell the interviewer something in your pitch that they won’t read by going through your resume.

If you need assistance with your resume, your elevator pitch, or anything else with your job search, KCDEE has Career Resource Professionals in the Illinois workNet Centers to assist you.

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