Table of Contents

Table of Contents

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Do you know what you would say if you got on an elevator with someone you really wanted to network with? Time’s running out—you only have four floors to go—what do you say? This outline will help you develop what you can say to make a positive first impression in brief professional interactions.

What Is an Elevator Pitch?

If you got on an elevator with the CHRO of an organization that you were incredibly interested in working for, what would you say? You would have 30 seconds or less to make a good impression before the elevator reached the top floor. On the other hand, if you were introduced to a room full of top candidates for a role you were trying to fill, how would you represent your company? An elevator pitch consists of a short, rehearsed, impactful summary or synopsis that represents either yourself or your organization. Practiced elevator pitches can be impressive and useful in the world of job searching and recruiting. You never know who you might run into on any given day.

Why Is an Elevator Pitch for Recruiting Important?

Elevator pitches are useful in making a good first impression for both recruiters and applicants. They help recruiters begin a conversation with professionalism and confidence.

  • For a recruiter. How would you convince someone to come and work for your organization in 30 seconds or less? A practiced elevator pitch can help you make your organization stand out to potential candidates at networking events, career fairs, and in everyday conversation. Not only are elevator pitches helpful in providing information about a company, but they also help the recruiter display confidence. An elevator pitch for a company consists of key elements of a company’s employee value proposition to attract candidates and encourage them to apply.
  • For an applicant. Elevator pitches are powerful tools in networking and interviewing. They help applicants express themselves in a professional manner that will stand out in an interviewer’s mind. Typically, elevator pitches are used to answer the interview question, “Tell me about yourself.” Elevator pitches give the applicant confidence right from the start of an interview or networking interaction. Many argue that it is easier to be confident in a new situation if you know what you are going to say beforehand.

A Recruiter’s Elevator Pitch

Of the many different elements about a company that one could share in an elevator pitch, there are a few that will stand out more than others. The outline of an elevator pitch should include an attention-grabbing opening line, something unique and memorable, key elements of the employee value proposition, and a call to action. Additionally, there are a few things that should NOT be included in an elevator pitch. Let’s look at each.

Attention-Grabbing Opening Line

When you have to compete with other companies for the same candidates, how do you get the attention of top talent? In order to draft an attention-grabbing opening line, you have to understand your audience. What do candidates care about most? Some recruiters start off with a question like, “Would you like a three-day weekend every week?” or “Do you like to have fun at work?” Other recruiters prefer to start with the solution to a problem, such as, “Company XYZ has developed unique systems that help guarantee you will be successful in your job.”

Something Unique and Key Elements of the Employee Value Proposition

Consider what your company has to offer. What does your company do differently from others? Why should a candidate pick your organization over your competitors? Your employee value proposition displays what is appealing to candidates about your organization. A unique aspect of your organization helps you stick out in the minds of those you talk to. For example, “We offer extended breaks in our fully stocked gourmet coffee break room,” or “We’ve developed a system that allows employees to pursue topics they are interested in by setting aside one hour a day that employees can devote to projects of their choice,” or “We offer amazing benefits and stock options after working with us for at least six months.”

Call to Action

Many recruiters understand that an interaction with a potential candidate is often ineffective without a call to action. This could be as simple as an offer to set up a time to chat or organizing some form of follow-up to the conversation.

What Not to Include

In such a brief pitch, don’t waste time on:

  • Negativity or disparaging remarks about the company
  • Too much content that will overwhelm the listener
  • Complex terms or jargon that only current employees would understand

An Applicant’s Elevator Pitch

Your personal elevator pitch mirrors your recruiting statement for your company: a strong opening line that grabs the listener’s attention, a unique quality about you, and key elements of your value proposition. There are also some things to watch out for and exclude from your personal elevator pitch.

Strong Opening Line

Grabbing a recruiter’s attention can be challenging without a strong opening line. Networking and interview interactions are so short that you have no time to lose when it comes to getting someone’s attention. The structure of a strong opening line starts with an introduction, a defining characteristic, something to give you credibility, and something that is true to you. For example, if you recently graduated with an MBA you could say, “Hi, I’m (name). I recently graduated from XZY University with a Master’s in Business Administration, and I’m passionate about helping teams succeed in meeting their goals.” If you’re bold and creative, you can start with a creative opening line that includes a metaphor. For example, “As a two-time winner of my school’s (or company’s) problem-solving award, I’m like superglue. I’m skilled in identifying difficult problems and developing creative solutions that will stand the test of time.”

Unique Quality

This is often the hardest part of the elevator pitch to develop. Many people find it challenging to talk about themselves. However, it is critical to remember that there is something unique about you and what you have to offer. For example, your unique aspect could be an award you won, a goal you exceeded, or an aspiration.

Your Value Proposition

This is your opportunity to persuade a recruiter why you are the right candidate for the job they are looking to fill. Your value proposition consists of what you have to offer that is appealing to the company. List at least three key skills or abilities you can bring to the company that aligns with what the recruiter is looking for. For example, you could mention that you are a strong negotiator, you are a high achiever, and you learn new things quickly. It can also be helpful, if time permits, to back up what you are saying. For example, if you have proven yourself as successful and high achieving at marketing you could say, “I have a proven track record at exceeding marketing expectations at Company XYZ over a three-year time period.” This statement not only illustrates a key element of your value proposition but also gives you credibility behind what you are conveying.

What Not to Include

Things to avoid in personal elevator pitches include:

  • Information about family, religion or politics
  • Wordiness – be concise
  • Negativity about yourself or the company
  • Repetitive words or phrases
  • Exact copies of others’ elevator pitches
  • Signs of desperation

Examples of Applicant Elevator Pitches

“Hi, my name is Sarah. I’ve been a mechanical engineer for over five years, and I’m incredibly passionate about creating contraptions that push the boundaries of what is considered possible. I consider myself to be a high achiever, as I’ve been awarded Employee of the Month every year over the last three years. Something you need to know about me is that I’ve developed strong problem-solving and communication skills as I’ve worked in multiple team environments to solve complex problems, and I’m eager to find my next big problem to solve.”

“As a recent graduate from XYZ University, I’ve gained insightful knowledge in the world of human resources, and I’m fascinated by compensation and benefits. Through Company XYZ, I’ve developed strong leadership and recruiting skills over the last two years. As I’ve been able to work on many team projects, my communication and teamwork skills are stellar, and I’m looking for a place where I can put my unique skill set to good use.”

Tips for Delivering an Elevator Pitch

There are a few tips for delivering an elevator pitch once it has been developed, including practicing, remembering that what you have to say has value, being yourself, and adapting to fit the situation.

Tip 1: Practice, Practice, Practice

It is critical to convey what you have to offer with confidence and authority. As the saying goes, practice doesn’t make perfect, but it does make permanent. The more you practice your elevator pitch, the more it will stick in your mind and serve as a tool for you in networking and interviewing interactions.

Tip 2: Remember that What You have to Say has Value

You have something to offer. It is critical for you to keep this in mind and use it to your advantage. If you remember that what you have to say has value, you will be more confident and more likely to make a lasting impression.

Tip 3: Be Yourself

Elevator pitches are not meant to introduce you in a way that is not true to you. Draft your elevator pitch in a way that you can present who you are and what you have to offer with confidence.

Tip 4: Adapt it to Fit the Situation

Most elevator pitches are less than 30 seconds long, but some situations may call for more information. It is critical to read the situation and adapt. If you begin and you feel that you have already lost someone’s attention, cut it short and ask them a question to keep the conversation going.

Content will also vary depending on the situation. It is important to read your audience and match what you say to what they may find interesting or compelling.

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Questions You’ve Asked Us About Elevator Pitches

Most elevator pitches should be less than 30 seconds long, but some situations may call for longer elevator speeches.
The structure of a strong introduction starts with your name and organization, a defining characteristic, something to give you credibility, and something that is unique to you or your organization.

Rae has acquired HR experience in team leadership, research, training, recruiting, project management, and mentoring upcoming HR professionals. She is fascinated by workplace culture and the many implications it has on the world of business, especially HR. When possible, she seeks out opportunities to expand her knowledge and give back to her community.

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