Crafting an effective elevator pitch is a critical piece of the job search process. What the heck is an elevator pitch, you ask? According to Wikipedia, it’s a short summary used to quickly and simply define a process, product, service, organization, or event and its value proposition. It’s also how you convey your “special sauce” in regard to who you are and the value you deliver to an organization.
Wikipedia goes on to explain that “…the name ‘elevator pitch’ reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride: approximately thirty seconds to two minutes. If the conversation inside the elevator in those few seconds is interesting and value adding, the conversation will either continue after the elevator ride or end in exchange of business cards or a scheduled meeting.”
In your job search, your elevator pitch shows up on your résumé and on LinkedIn in a condensed form as your Summary Statement. The pitch is frequently utilized in networking emails and, in its most classic sense, at networking events or interviews.
Your résumé and LinkedIn profile are marketing pieces. With your summary serving as a shortened version of your elevator pitch on your résumé and LinkedIn, you are intentionally directing people to your unique story. When you skip this piece of the process and don’t effectively craft a good elevator pitch or summary, your network, recruiters, hiring managers, and others are left to draw their own conclusions about who you are and why you’ve applied for a job. Crafting a tightly woven summary helps keep you in control of your story.
In written form, your elevator pitch should be no longer than four to six sentences. In it, you should answer the following:
- What are you known for?
- What are you passionate about?
- What is your “secret sauce”?
- What do you do better than anyone else?
- What industries do you want to work in?
- What geographic area are you targeting?
- Is there a title or organizational level that you’re seeking?
- Does the size of the company matter?
- How important is it that you manage others?
For the sake of an example, let’s pretend (and ONLY pretend), that I’m done being a coach and want to work for a company again. Perhaps I want to lean on my technology staffing background to land a leadership role in a headhunting firm. If I were on that career track, this is what my summary, and then written elevator pitch, might look like:
Leveraging nearly 20 years of background in agency and corporate staffing, along with years spent advising job seekers, now looking to return to my roots in a staffing leadership role. Known for a deep knowledge of the staffing industry, relentless creative thinking, strong business-development skills, an exceptional ability to craft language and a diverse and broad network. Passionate about matching candidates with growth opportunities and solving staffing nightmares for corporations.
If I were to flesh out the summary for an elevator pitch to deliver via email, the email might look like this:
Thank you so much for introducing me to your friend, Mark.
Mark, I find myself in a career transition and am looking to pivot to my next career move. The past few years I’ve been an entrepreneur and have worked as a job-search coach, but now it’s time for me to return to my roots in a staffing leadership role. I’m seeking opportunities as a Managing Director or Vice President role in a staffing firm where I can strategize the growth of the agency and direct business operations. My background offers more than 15 years of technology placements in engineering and information technology.
I’m known for a deep knowledge of the staffing industry, relentless creative thinking, strong business development skills, an exceptional ability to craft language, and a diverse and broad network. I’ve always been passionate about matching candidates with growth opportunities and solving staffing nightmares for corporations.
I’m based just out of Chicago and am most interested in finding opportunities in the Northwest suburbs that would afford an easy commute from Park Ridge. A culture that embraced flexibility and allowed for employees to work from home one or two days a week would be ideal.
I’d love to meet for coffee, if your schedule allows. I’m hoping that our conversation can be mutually beneficial, and that I in turn am able to assist you with your career growth strategizing or expansion of your network.
Thank you for your time. Look forward to connecting soon.
See how the elevator pitch expands beyond the summary to give as many specifics as possible to focus the search? Beyond the type of job I’m looking to obtain, my network would need to know the following in order to effectively pass along job leads:
- Where do I see myself fitting in an organization
- What size company am I looking for?
- Where am I looking to work geographically?
The more specifics you can offer to a network contact, the better chance your referrals will be specifically targeted. With this description, I shouldn’t hear about staff-level, non-management roles in downtown Chicago.
Having an effective elevator pitch and summary statement are important pieces in the job search process. Think through what’s important to you and ask yourself if you’ve clearly articulated this to your network.
P.S. — One more tip: Your email address and phone number should always be on your signature line when you’re in job search mode. You never want to make someone dig through email chains to find your phone number.