If you’ve ever sat across from an interviewer and felt the awkwardness of wondering how to respond to the request to “tell me about yourself,” you need an elevator pitch.
The original “elevator pitch” comes from the studio days of Hollywood, when a screenwriter would supposedly catch an unsuspecting executive on an elevator ride and try to sell them on an idea during the 30 seconds they were a captive audience. Today, elevator pitches are useful in a variety of business settings, especially promoting yourself as an ideal job candidate.
The best pitches provide a brief explanation of four things: who you are, what makes you tick, an accomplishment you’re proud of, and the goal you would like to achieve. Seem like a lot to pack into 30 seconds? The good news is that since you won’t actually be delivering it on an elevator, your pitch can be slightly longer: up to a minute or two. Here’s how to break it down.
1. State who you are and who you help.
- I’m a fitness trainer who helps elderly people achieve their health goals in a way that’s safe and supportive.
- I’m a housekeeper who helps families enjoy their vacations in clean, beautiful settings.
- I’m a diversity and inclusion consultant who helps Fortune 500 companies create more welcoming cultures, where everyone is happier and more productive.
2. Share what motivates you. Why do you do what you do?
- I love seeing the joy on my client’s faces when they accomplish a goal.
- I enjoy being part of a team that is always looking for ways to surprise and delight guests.
- I faced a lot of discrimination in the earlier part of my career when I was the only female black computer programmer at XYZ company. That’s made me committed to teaching leaders at other organizations how to recognize and eliminate bias from their interpersonal interactions and business processes.
3. Summarize one of your proudest accomplishments – just one.
- For example, I recently helped an 80-year-old woman who previously suffered from diabetes train for and run her first marathon. It was incredible to see her feelings about herself change as we worked together and to celebrate this huge accomplishment with her and her family.
- For example, one time when cleaning a vacation suite, I noticed the family had recently completed a puzzle. The next day when I returned to clean, I brought a new one for them to put together and left it with a note on the table.
- One of my proudest accomplishments was working with XYZ Company to evaluate their entire hiring process for opportunities to remove bias and diversify their candidate slates. As a result, 47 percent more minority candidates were considered for leadership roles and 32 percent more were hired.
4. Explain your goal.
- I’d like to help the residents of your retirement community experience the same joy and sense of well-being by using what I’ve learned in the past 10 years to lead a fun, safe, and engaging fitness program at XYZ Estates.
- These are the kind of special touches I would like to bring to your team as a housekeeping manager.
- I’m eager to help QRX Company achieve the same kind of results by serving as your Director of Diversity and Inclusion.
5. When appropriate, include a call-to-action.
This would primarily be outside of an interview setting. For example, if you’re sending an invitation to connect with someone on LinkedIn, or if you meet someone at a networking event.
- Do you have time next week that we could meet to discuss this possibility?
- Do you have any open positions that I could apply for?
- Could you share more about your diversity and inclusion goals?
Once you’ve written your pitch, time yourself to see how long it takes to say out loud without rushing. If you’re far over two minutes, try trimming it down a bit, then practice, practice, practice in front of the mirror, friends, family, or colleagues until delivering your pitch feels comfortable and conversational. You don’t need to have your pitch memorized word-for-word, but the more familiar you are with the core content, the more naturally it will flow out. The most important thing is to speak clearly and confidently so that your passion and expertise shine through. If you follow these steps, you’ll be ready deliver your pitch in nearly any setting, from an elevator to a job interview.