I was recently interviewed by a local newspaper on the importance of a clear job seeker elevator speech and the effectiveness
of having one to share at a moment’s notice. Our discussion prompted this post. The term itself was inspired by the amount of time a job seeker would have to plead their value to a potential employer if they were riding in an elevator. Usually a trip in an elevator ride lasts less than a minute and often as little as 20 seconds.
In that short amount of time is it really possible to capture attention and be remembered? Absolutely! Two main ideas to remember when developing your own speech are to first understand who your audience is and what is most important to them and secondly knowing who you are and your true value to a company. Seems simple enough but in order to make it sound simple, concise, and authentic it can take some thought to get it just right.
An elevator speech includes five parts.
Who you are and the type of work you are looking for – Depending on your audience, explain what your positioning is in your industry so the listener is clear on what you are looking for. If you are speaking with someone outside and unfamiliar with your industry you can use a bit of generalization to help them understand your current goals.
The Strengths You Want to Promote – This is where you tell listeners what you do. You can do this by describing 1 or 2 top skills you have that are sought for the targeted position, and an example of an achievement.
Some use a hook or catchy line here which will capture attention but just be careful, cute and catchy phrases can sound good on paper but are often hard to say with conviction. Make sure it sounds genuine so it will be remembered.
A success story often works extremely well here because stories are easier to remember, easier to say and can quickly capture attention. In the short story include the skills and value you use and will bring to a new employer such as an achievement that you can quickly convey.
Action Step – If the situation calls for an action step offer a business card, ask for one and if you can call them soon, ask if they know of someone they could talk with or a company that could use your experience. It is bold but can be very effective.
Trim & Strengthen Speech – Write the speech so that it is easy to say and easy to understand. Once you have the information you want to share written down, begin to shave it down and flesh out the excess so that your value really stands out and your 30 seconds of time is something that will be remembered.
Practice, Practice, Memorize, and Practice some more – Once your speech is clear and ready, read it, say it and memorize it. Practice it until it sounds effortless and then get out there and start using it.
Example – I am a senior accountant for a Fortune 500 company where I work as an analyst managing internal controls as a way to keep costs down. Last year the quality control measures I put in place in our department were used to find a discrepancy that saved the company $750,000 dollars. Would your company benefit from my experience?
You may find it helpful to create 2 or 3 different versions to use in different environments such as a networking group, social activity or a close encounter with a targeted decision maker. Knowing what your target companies and contacts are looking for and knowing yourself will help to keep the material genuine in tone and memorable.