Looking for a job? You probably have an elevator pitch you put together using the same standard format everyone uses. You have probably practiced your pitch with networking and job-hunting groups. You have probably refined your presentation to the point that you can now present yourself and your career in just under a minute. It's like a game, almost: How quickly can you present your background and still sound relevant?
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Does this elevator pitch feel natural? Does it feel like you are being authentically who you are? When you present yourself to potential hiring managers using your elevator pitch, does it engage active conversation? Probably not.
If you're wondering why you aren't getting a better response from employers, it may have something to do with the fact that you are approaching your pitch from the wrong perspective.
Turn Your Attention Toward Employers
Most people in the job market make their elevator pitches about themselves instead of about the problems facing the employer.
Think about it: Hundreds – if not thousands – of people are walking down the same path with you, all looking for work. Only a few of you will be interesting enough to earn admission to the less traveled path that leads to potential employment. It's time to make some courageous changes to your approach. Stop thinking about yourself and start thinking about the pain of the employer. Otherwise, you will miss opportunities to engage interest. Someone else will be invited down the path less traveled.
You have 15 seconds to get the employer's attention. Don't waste that opportunity by becoming so focused on yourself you forget the hiring manager is actually the one with a problem that needs solving.
What's Wrong With Your Pitch:
Most job seekers' elevator pitches are preoccupied with resume highlights, industry expertise, and the types of opportunities the job seeker is looking for. You - You - You.
Do you know what is the most boring thing to an employer? A candidate they are not interested in. When you start off assuming interest, you lose the interest of the other party.
Your job is to be memorable.
When you keep hearing the same information presented in the same way, how soon before you check out and stop listening? Why would it be any different for the employer? If you do the same thing everyone else is doing, knowing that there are potentially hundreds of you trying to get the attention of one hiring manager, how much do you really think you will stand out?
Imagine you are the hiring manager who has problems to solve and a vacancy to fill. How many of the same pitches presented in the same way do you think that manager has heard by the time they hear you? How open is the dialogue likely to be if you start off talking about yourself and finish by telling the hiring manager what you want?
How refreshing would it be if, instead, you engaged with the other party by talking about your passion as it relates to their interests, pains, and needs. Remember, you can always share your resume once you gain interest. It is much harder to work the process the other way around.
How Your Elevator Pitch Should Look:
Here are four points to consider as you rewrite and rework your pitch:
1. Speak to the Employer's Pain and need
You should understand what problems you solve well. Speak to your ability to make a difference as it relates to the hiring entity's critical business needs. If you help struggling teams regain their cohesion so that ROI and productivity regain upward momentum, say so. If you specialize in implementing technology-driven solutions for a specific industry, area, or company profile, say so. Let the other person's pain drive the interest, which in turn will drive their questions about your background.
2. Show Your Passion for What You Do as It Relates to the Business
Be excited about what you do. Jobs get boring, but you shouldn't be bored with what you do before you even have the chance to start.
Share one thing you love about what you do. If you are passionate about scrum, share that. If you love the sharing of best practices across different departments, share that. The simple act of sharing one single business practice that you care about will often tell the other person more about what you would be like to work with than everything else you say in that two-minute conversation.
Be thoughtful about what you choose to share, but please choose something that shows you care about your work, your people, or your industry.
3. Engage the Other Person With an Inquiry
People generally like to talk about themselves and their work more than they like talking about anything else – including talking about you. Use this to your advantage by asking the other party a question about themselves.
Ask them what their biggest challenge has been. Ask them about their most interesting project or their most fun role. Ask about a new initiative you read about that might impact their area.
Always end your pitch with a question mark, not a period.
4. Forget Yourself
Truthfully, if the other person is interested in finding out more about you and your background, they can and will ask as you dive further into the conversation. If they want to find out about your industry knowledge, they will ask once you have piqued their interest. The key is to pique that interest first.
Your past, the things you did last year, even your name – all are of little interest to a networking partner until you have first touched on their needs. Do this first. The rest is easy.
Save the boring details until it's time for the boring details. If you become of interest, someone will ask for them. If you start off boring, you are far less likely to become interesting.
Erica McCurdy is a member of Forbes Coaches Council, a certified master coach, and a member of the International Coaching Federation (ICF). You can learn more about her practice on her website: www.McCurdyLifeCoach.com