One of the most useful self-marketing tools in your job search toolkit is the ‘elevator speech’. This is a clear and concise description of who you are, what you do and why you are the perfect candidate, given in the time it takes to ride a lift. But how do you summarise your career and achievements in a brief yet engaging 30-second pitch?
The elevator speech can be used in professional situations such as networking, job interviews, career fairs etc, when you need to quickly describe your personal brand to someone you meet. Here are some tips on how to develop an outstanding elevator speech that could win you your next role.
Keep your elevator speech brief
When writing your elevator speech, think about what you want a potential employer to learn about your skills, achievements and experience. Aim for a few key elements. You want to interest the listener and encourage them to find out more, not bore them with your life story. One or two sentences should be plenty, otherwise you risk losing their attention.
Develop your speech around the basic format of who you are, what you do and the type of opportunity you’re looking for. Enhance this with information about why your job is important, the benefits derived from your role or your unique qualities. Information like this grabs attention and invites questions.
Avoid detracting from your core message with unnecessary details. You may have many skills and talents, but what are the most important? Be focused so the listener has a clear picture of what you do.
Focus on the listener’s needs
Use your speech to build relationships by tailoring it to the listener and focussing on their needs. Tell them about your special skills and the specific ways you could help them. Maybe now or in the future they’ll be looking for a candidate like you, or they know someone who’s looking.
For example: “I’m an IT professional with 10 years’ experience working for consumer products companies” is more persuasive if you say “I’m an IT professional with a strong track record in redesigning data networks to achieve significantly reduced overheads.”
Develop variations for particular situations. What you say in an interview interview will be different to what you tell a former colleague. Sometimes you’ll have a couple of minutes to give your speech, other times you might have just seconds.
Be enthusiastic about it
An ineffective elevator speech can give the impression you lack enthusiasm for your profession. It’s important to value your achievements and be assertive about the opportunities you’re pursuing.
If you lack enthusiasm for your current role but you’re planning a career change or have a side interest you’re developing, highlight that instead. Use phrases that show your future plans: “Currently I work as a teacher but I’m passionate about animal welfare and I’m studying to become a veterinary nurse.”
But be truthful – don’t be pretend to be something you’re not. Make sure your speech sounds like you and accurately conveys who you are and what you do.
Practise and perfect your elevator speech
Practise your speech until it sounds natural, not rehearsed. A poorly delivered speech is unlikely to interest your audience, so read it out loud then try it on some friends and get their feedback.
Finally, look for opportunities to use your new speech: at a networking event or in a cold call, perhaps? Or update your LinkedIn profile or use it in an email.
Be confident and start selling yourself!