By: Gina Anselmo, Former Career Advisor for the DePaul University College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
What is the first image that comes to mind when you think of an “elevator pitch?” Perhaps two people in formal attire at a job fair, shaking hands, and answering the basic questions of, tell me about yourself or what do you do? While you can ditch the actual elevator, responding to either question is a staple to getting to know others in any professional or social situation. Thinking of your elevator pitch – or your 30-second introduction speech – is a key ingredient to making a meaningful first impression.
The purpose of an elevator pitch is to create a brief, impactful message that touches on the following key points:
- You! Your most important characteristics and interests
- What you can offer to the employer and workforce
- Your goal in connecting with the individual you’re pitching
Your introduction or pitch should be something easily adaptable and shared in many contexts ranging from job fairs, interviews, internships, to social situations such as joining a new student organization or perhaps meeting a new professor for class. When developing your pitch, make sure you are showcasing your best attributes, and make sure the pitch feels authentic and is true to you – this is the most important thing to remember when crafting your pitch.
In order to put your best foot forward in developing an elevator pitch that works for you, it’s important to think of a few basic components that can make up the structure:
How do you want to describe yourself? If you are a student, you might want to think about sharing your name, school, and major. If you are a new professional, perhaps you want to share your role and organization.
What do you do well and what can you offer? Think about accomplishments or recent experiences that can showcase transferrable skills and connect with the flow of the conversation. Think about contributions you have made and how you are interested in continuing in another setting.
What is your goal with your pitch? Think about your audience and who you are speaking to. What is your goal in talking to that person? Be intentional when sharing your purpose. Are you interested in exploring job or internship opportunities, making an academic connection, or learning about a new organization or graduate program?
What is your secret sauce? This is something that I often talk about in terms of adding another layer of authenticity and depth to the impression you want to make. Think about a unique point you can share about your background, interests, or contributions that serves as a ‘hook’ to carry the conversation further.
Finally, after your pitch, you should be prepared to ask questions to further engage the person. Make sure you are practicing active listening so you can think of questions on the spot that will carry the conversation to interesting places. Remember, networking is a two-way street!
My Advice to You When Developing Your Pitch
Be true to yourself! Think about what snapshot of you will leave an impression that bundles your strengths, what you can offer, and your intentions. There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to crafting a pitch; rather, the more you know about yourself and prepare, the better you will be at adapting your pitch to the right audience.
Are you interested in practicing your pitch and further preparing for interviews? You can practice online with InterviewStream, a video mock interview system.