I’ve been talking with a lot of friends who are looking for work, and one of the questions that keeps coming up is, “What’s my personal elevator pitch?” What can you say about yourself in the first few moments of contact, whether written or spoken, to create an unforgettable first impression? And what approach do you take to figure that out?
Here are a few ideas for how to find your own elevator pitch, based on conversations with friends who have been successful in finding new positions:
Avoid buzzwords. LinkedIn is littered with visionaries, leaders, pioneers and change agents. Try finding the truest, most direct way to express what you mean. “Enjoys experimentation.” “Gets stuff done.” “Comfortable admitting mistakes.” “Knows how to push back.” You get the idea. Be real and avoid the white noise if possible. Of course, I realize I’ve probably got a dozen buzzwords in this post! Be kind in the comments.😉
Look for rare combinations of traits. Many people have some of the same talents, so finding something unique to say about yourself can be tough. Look for combinations of traits, skills and experiences that are rare. Perhaps you have a high EQandgreat organizational skills. Maybe you’re great at writingand statistical analysis. Whatever your special combo is, look for things that don’t often go together, and provide examples of how the intersection of those rare gifts can benefit their business.
Talk about what you love—and what you’d love to learn. While there are many jobs that require specific training and skill sets, being a quick learner and a good cultural match also goes a long way. Talk about what you love and what motivates you. Talk about what you’d love to learn. These days, things are changing so fast, a company’s organizational learning curve is one of their only long-term competitive advantages. Position yourself as somebody who can accelerate that learning curve.
Ask your friends for feedback and turn it into a game. It’s often hard to see our own awesomeness, especially if we’ve been out of work for a while and are feeling the pressure. Ask your friends how they would pitch you to a new employer. In fact, have a bunch of friends over and turn it into a game night. Each of you can take turns describing each other’s professional gifts in 20 seconds or less. Create elevator pitches for each other. Write them down, put them in a pile, and guess which ones are whose. It's up to you if you want to keep score or not. The point is to learn more about what your superpowers look like thru someone else’s eyes. And when you’re done, everybody wins, because everybody has new inspiration for their own elevator pitch.
Stay true to yourself and keep the faith. One of the most pernicious things about being out of work for a while is that you can start to question your own professional worth. Just remember, the fact you got laid off says way more about the company who let you go than it does about you. You didn’t lose a job. They lost a rock star. It’s just a matter of time before the next opportunity emerges. It may take longer than you’d like. But it will come. Your elevator pitch is like a shining light that’s meant to attract opportunities. Be as authentic as you can, and you’re more likely to attract the right opportunities—the ones that value you for who you really are.
I hope this post helps anybody who’s in between jobs right now. And for those of us lucky enough to still have work, remember to take a few moments each week to reach out to those who are still looking. Even if all you do is offer a few words of encouragement—or share an “elevator pitch” for how you’d describe them and their talents—your positivity will make a huge difference.
Joshua Reynolds is the Founder and CEO of Rob Roy Consulting, Inc.