How To Nail Your Elevator Pitch

Your goal in a first round interview is to get passed onto the next round. If you make the recruiter’s job easy, you will potentially meet with a hiring manager. The recruiter is looking for specific skills and competencies before they can give you the green light.

The question you must prepare for is, “Tell me about your background.”

I’ve asked that question to candidates and most often they speak for three to four minutes loosely about themselves. They rarely give themselves enough credit for their accomplishments and they don’t take advantage of the opportunity to answer the question effectively.

You want to have a succinct story about your background that illustrates the evolution of your experience over time. You also want to mention the transferable skills you’ve gained that will apply to the new role.

Here’s my example:

I began my career at Verizon in business channel where I cut my teeth in outside sales, learning to cold-call and manage a pipeline. Then I spent three and half years at BlackBerry managing channel sales where I learned how to develop c-level relationships and worked cross-functionally within the organization. Then I spent a couple years at Google where I worked with marketers and helped brands craft their online marketing strategy. Currently at I can repeat my elevator pitch in 24 seconds. The first three transferable skills are italicized and I’ve purposely stitched them into my pitch so the recruiter fully understands how my experience would relate and lend itself to the role I am applying for.

Recently, a recruiter at one of the hottest technology companies in the universe told me that one of the challenges with recruiting is that most companies don’t hire for potential. In other words, if you don’t make it clear that you have the experience it will be a long shot to get passed to the next round. That’s why nailing your elevator pitch is essential.

Five Tips To Nail Your Pitch:

1. Write your pitch down on paper, but know it by heart.

2. Begin telling your story from the past so you can illustrate how your career has evolved over time.

3. Highlight your transferable skills that relate to the role you are applying for.

4. Select transferable skills that are different so they all complement your experience.

5. Time yourself so your pitch is less than one minute long.

Having trouble identifying your transferable skills? I recently gave a talk and I asked the group to write down the proudest moment of their career. One gentlemen shared his experience; he was invited to a awards ceremony for the sales team at his company. He had been heading up their IT, ensuring all the technology was running smoothly. He didn’t know why he, the IT guy, was invited to such an event. He and his wife decided to attend anyway. At the end of the night they called his name to the stage, he was in disbelief. They said without him, the sales people wouldn’t have achieved their targets and none of this would have been possible. He was the glue that kept the organization together.

I asked the man why he thinks he received the award, what was the transferable skill that they recognized? “I can communicate with everyone, no matter what rank or position,” he said. That night he received an award, but he had always had the ability to communicate effectively. You could see the pep in his step and that was a skill he could take anywhere.

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