Polishing Your Elevator Speech

Every job seeker should have a 30-second speech that describes what they do and what they're looking to do in the future.

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What if you were stuck in an elevator with someone and they asked you what you do for a living? In today's world of job seekers, it's necessary to have a 30-second speech that succinctly describes what you do and what you're looking to do in the future. Here's your chance to improve on what you'd say during your "elevator speech."

Should You Polish?

Perfecting your elevator speech will allow you to explain concisely what you are looking for in a career opportunity. Even if you've previously worked on this, it never hurts to polish it a little more. You'll want to explain who you are and what you're looking for in a very concise way. Perhaps you're tired of rattling off the same speech you've been using for years, or your goals may have changed, which would necessitate an updated speech.

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Updating Your Speech

There are several key areas you should focus on as you perfect what you'll say.

1. Is it short enough? Time yourself giving the speech in front of the mirror. A good elevator speech should be no more than 30 seconds, so if yours is longer, you will need to chop it down. Be careful not to rush through it; it's important to be concise yet understandable.

2. Looking for what to cut? The first things to go are the details. You want just the basics, since this speech is meant to provide just enough information to whet the listener's appetite. You don't have to give them your entire career history; just a couple of highlights.

Common areas people mention that you can and should remove include:

  • Where you're from (unless you're traveling out of town)
  • The last few places you've worked (unless they're really impressive)
  • The type of work you've done (if it's not the type of work you're currently seeking)
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    3. Is it memorable? It's difficult to know if your own elevator speech is memorable until you've tested it out, but there are a few ways to ensure that people will listen. How the message is delivered makes all the difference. Practice until it becomes natural.

    Your elevator pitch shouldn't be a quick walk through of your resume. It should be 30 seconds of information that demonstrates your value. When writing your speech, focus on results instead of the process and how those results set you apart. This is what future employers need to hear: what you can do for their business. The outcome of your pitch should evoke conversation.

    4. Is it aimed at your target audience? In the case of job hunters, future employers are an obvious target audience. Adjust the pitch to the person who is listening, and refine it as your professional skills continue to grow. Your elevator speech needs to click with the people you are targeting, so it should be designed to impress them specifically. For every sentence you come up with, ask yourself if this is something your target audience will understand and appreciate.

    [See Ways to Stay Organized on the Job Hunt.]

    Having a targeted, short, and memorable elevator speech will give you a head start on job hunting. Often, you'll have a limited amount of time and attention from a prospective employer, and the ability to give them your spiel anywhere and any time can be invaluable. It could also end up giving you just the opening you need to land that dream job.

    Twitter: @PRJobs

    Lindsay Olson is a founding partner and public relations recruiter with Paradigm Staffing and Hoojobs, a niche job board for public relations, communications, and social media jobs. She blogs at LindsayOlson.com, where she discusses recruiting and job search issues.

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