An elevator pitch is an often used way of introducing yourself to recruiters, clients or employers. This usually takes place face-to-face during a conversation, but sometimes it’s done through e-mail. But what exactly is an elevator pitch? How do you write a successful elevator pitch? In this article we’ll give you a comprehensive guide, including four practical examples.
After reading this article you’ll know what an elevator pitch is, how you can write one yourself, and you’ll know the secret behind making your pitch a success.
What is an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is a short presentation in which you try to convince the listener within about one minute of the added value you have to offer. It can be about the value you add as a person or as a professional, or it can be for marketing a service, product or idea.
When you have a job interview, or you’re visiting a potential client to offer your services, an elevator pitch is an important tool. But a pitch can be helpful during less high-stakes moments too. Take meeting an interesting prospect during a networking event, for example.
In this article we’ll focus specifically on writing an elevator pitch for a job interview. If you are looking for a new job, this article is for you.
10 tips for the perfect elevator pitch
You now know that an elevator pitch is a successful tool to sell yourself and leave a good impression with prospects, clients, or a future employer. But what do you have to do to write a good elevator pitch for a job interview? In the following list we provide you with ten tips for writing a solid elevator pitch.
Tip 1. Create an overview of your good qualities
You have one minute to sell yourself to the HR manager or employer you’d like to work for. Because of this, your elevator pitch needs to have high information density. In short: every word you say has to be relevant and contribute to the good impression the listener has of you.
Just to be sure you’ll succeed at this, base your pitch on the following questions:
1. Who are you and what are your core qualities?
2. What added value do these core qualities contribute to the position you’re applying for?
3. What added value do you contribute as a person to the company and its culture? 4. What are your future ambitions and how do you expect this position and this company to help fulfill those ambitions?
It’s not necessary to expound on every single one of these questions in your elevator pitch. The point is that you’re able to answer these questions for yourself in order to get some insight into your qualities and ambitions, and how those correspond with the position you’re applying for. This insight provides a good foundation for writing your pitch.
Tip 2. High information density
As we mentioned before, it’s important that your elevator pitch has high information density. This means that every word you say has to be relevant to the meaning of your pitch. You can achieve this by focusing the text of your pitch specifically on your core qualities and interests. After writing, ask yourself which words and sentences are irrelevant, and which parts you could perhaps talk about more extensively later on in the job interview.
Tip 3. Think of a creative opening sentence
To hook the listener and to increase the chance of a positive reaction, it’s important to capture their attention from the first sentence. This is essential for constructing your elevator pitch. Think of a creative opening sentence or anecdote for your pitch. Don’t open with your name and position, but describe that one moment when you discovered your core value. Or talk about the moment you realised that the company you’re interviewing with perfectly matches who you are and what you want to achieve.
Tip 4. Be funny, but not too silly
It’s fine to crack a joke or to make a playful remark during your elevator pitch. This can break the ice and reduce tension for yourself and the listener. Watch out though that humour doesn’t take up too much time and doesn’t distract from the content of the elevator pitch. It’s alright to be witty, but make sure the message you convey is serious.
Tip 5. Go from general to specific (and ‘kill your darlings’)
It’s extremely challenging to summarise within one minute what your core values and qualities are. Still, it’s essential to make your elevator pitch concise. A good method for achieving this is the principle of ‘kill your darlings’. This idea corresponds well with our earlier tip regarding information density.
You can apply the ‘kill your darlings’ principle by first writing down everything you want to talk about in your elevator pitch. You don’t have to be very specific to start with. Don’t be afraid to write more than you’ll end up using. Afterwards you can take a critical look at what you wrote and throw out what you don’t need, to make the text more specific.
Tip 6. Leave the elevator pitch alone for a day
Did you write an elevator pitch and do you have a good feeling about it? Or did you write one, but you’re struggling to make it coherent? Put the elevator pitch away for a day and take a look at it again tomorrow. You’ll have a fresh perspective on the text, and you will spot things that you overlooked the day before. This often means that a good pitch can be made even better, and that a mediocre pitch can be rewritten into a successful pitch.
Tip 7. Read the elevator pitch back to yourself out loud
There’s a big difference between writing and speaking. Sometimes an elevator pitch looks great on paper, but doesn’t flow well when read aloud. This is why it’s important to read the pitch out loud to yourself to discover if the text runs into any problems. Aside from that, reading the pitch out loud is a great tool for discovering how you can best present it.
Tip 8. Ask a friend of family member to judge your pitch
Do you want to make sure that employers will respond positively to your elevator pitch? Ask a friend, relative or colleague to judge the pitch. Make sure they’re honest about the quality of your pitch, even if it’s lacking. You can learn a lot from this. It doesn’t just give you a better pitch, but it also provides you with an opportunity to improve your presentation skills.
Make sure that the person judging you is aware what the goal of the pitch is, for example whether it serves as a first introduction or as part of negotiations about terms of employment and benefits. When negotiating terms of employment, you will usually negotiate your salary too. Your salary with your new employer may depend in part on the quality of your elevator pitch. During salary negotiations you will often get an indication of your salary, which gives you an opportunity to formulate an answer to the question: what can I ask and what counter offer can I make?
Tip 9. Bring enthusiasm and energy to your pitch
Even though the content of your elevator pitch is really important, one thing is more important: making an energetic and enthusiastic impression. If you want to inspire and convince your future employer, it’s essential that you stand up straight, look cheerful and energetic, and talk about yourself and your core qualities with genuine enthusiasm.
With an elevator pitch, everything is about emotion. Of course the content is important, but the way you present that content usually makes or breaks the pitch.
Tip 10. Remember that the elevator pitch isn’t everything
Aren’t you a naturally gifted speaker or presenter? Do you dread the prospect of giving a speech? Don’t worry. An elevator pitch may be important for selling yourself, but it’s not the only thing that counts in making your offer attractive. Maybe you’re able to impress your future employer the most during the conversation that follows the pitch. Or maybe your cover letter already left an indestructible impression. Aside from your pitch, it’s also important to leave a good first impression. It’s good to remember that.
4 examples of rock-solid elevator pitches
To give you a good idea of what elevator pitches look like, we’ve written down several examples for you. These could be pitches during face to face conversations with an employer, or they could be seen as e-mail templates.
Example 1. Marketeer and programmer
“During my work as a team leader at an online marketing company, I used knowledge from my coding hobby to build a time registration system with which we were able to meticulously map out to what extent the estimated hours in the quotations matched the actual worked hours in our team. These insights have yielded our team huge monthly savings. Due to my combination of programming and marketing knowledge I am confident that I can bring added value to your organisation as well. For your marketing clients, but also for the team itself and for creating insight into and improving their results.”
Example 2. Journalist
“Telling stories has always been a passion of mine. By the time I was ten, I was already filling notebooks with exciting thrillers. That hobby eventually led me to become an editor for the school paper. During my journalism studies I worked for the local news website. Now that I’ve graduated, I want to use my love for storytelling and journalism to inspire the readers of your national travel magazine every month with the most beautiful travel stories.”
Example 3. Technician
“I was six years old when my mum walked in on me with a disassembled radio and a screwdriver. At the time I wasn’t clever enough to put the device back together again, but my fascination with engineering was already abundantly apparent. This passion luckily never went away, because during my vocational training and my apprenticeship as an electrician
I’ve enjoyed learning about and working in this field every single day. Now that I’ve finished my education, I would love to become a part of your experienced technical team and continue to learn.”
Example 4. Fashion designer
“When I heard that your company went on a team outing to Milan, I was sold. Not just because I love city trips like that, but especially because I heard your team went to a small family-owned boutique where they used to make dresses for the Italian nobility. Your passion for fashion history was the deciding factor for me to apply for a job with your company. Fashion is more than colours, fabrics, trends and influencers after all. It’s an important part of our culture. I’m convinced that I, with my experience as a fashion designer combined with my background as a cultural historian, will add value to your marketing team.”
Frequently asked questions about elevator pitches
You now know how much time an elevator pitch is supposed to take up, how to write one, and how best to present your pitch in practice. You’ve also read several useful examples of elevator pitches. To conclude this article, you will find several frequently asked questions with answers below that will briefly explain the most important details.
What is an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is a short presentation in which you introduce yourself (or your product or service) to the listener. This listener could be an employer, but they could also be a client or prospective client.
How long does an elevator pitch last?
An elevator pitch takes about 60 seconds. Depending on the content and the message of the pitch, it’s possible that the pitch might end up slightly longer or shorter.
How do you write a good elevator pitch?
A good elevator pitch contains information about your core values as a person and as a professional, or if you’re offering a service or product, the added value that this service or product will provide to the listener.
Is an elevator pitch necessary?
We recommend using an elevator pitch. It is the most effective way to impress an HR manager, recruiter, or employer. Nevertheless, it’s wise not to let everything depend on your pitch alone. Your cover letter, CV, and the interview with the employer are at least as important. All these things taken together eventually decide whether you’re successful.