Going up!

A photo of two elevator doors

Ding! Ding! Next floor- your dream job.

An elevator speech. An elevator pitch. A personal commercial. Whatever you call it, this is one of the most useful tools in your job search (when done well). It can be used during networking events, career fairs, and job interviews, and is meant to quickly express who you are and what you are all about… in less than a minute.

Sounds impossible right? How can you fit your whole life story, your dreams, your passion, your experience all in a speech that lasts around 30 seconds?!

The good news is we don’t need your whole life story, just enough to get someone (your future boss) interested in hiring you. So how can we do that?

First, keep in mind that your “speech” should be:

  • Short
  • Clear
  • Honest

Your speech should be between 30-60 seconds (this is where the name “elevator speech” comes from. 30-60 seconds is the average amount of time people spend in an elevator together) and a clear, honest communication about who you are and what you value. It’s like a mini-resume that you can carry with you in the back of your head, ready at a moment’s notice.

Getting started:

You probably have a lot you want to say in your speech. Your education, work history, skills, interests, goals… This is a good starting point.

Grab a piece of paper and a pencil and write in big letters “HIRE ME” at the top of the page. This is your goal. Everything you write about yourself from here on out should lead to this goal.

Now start writing. Write down everything about yourself that your future boss should know. Don’t hold back! If you get stuck, start asking yourself questions like:

  • What makes me different from other people?
  • What makes me a good employee?
  • What things am I good at?

Once you finish spilling everything out on this piece of paper, grab an index card or a sticky note. Now, look at what you wrote and write the most important things on this card/post-it. Since you have less room to write, only choose things that matter most. only include things that match up with your goal of getting hired.

A stack of colorful sticky notes

Post-its to the rescue!

By limiting the size of your paper, you’re forced to only pick the most valuable bits of information.  Focus on who you are, what you do and why that matters. At the end of this, you should have enough information to craft your speech.

Organize the details:

On a new sheet of paper, start off by introducing yourself. Try to make it natural. Follow our example with Ann, a high schooler who is talking to Tom, the owner of a local clinic.

“Hey, It’s nice to meet you, I’m Ann.”‘

Now, what do you do?

“I’m currently in high school but I’m hoping to become a nurse. I’m Treasurer in my school’s healthcare club and spend 2 weekends a month volunteering at a local nursing home.”

Great! Why do you do it?

“I love helping others and like keeping other folks company during stressful times.”

Why does it matter? What makes you stand out?

“Nursing is my passion. I believe its one of the most important jobs out there and even though I’m young, I want to learn everything I can about the field. “

What’s next? What’s your “ask”?

“I’d love a chance to meet with you and tour your clinic one day. If you’re looking for extra help during the summer, I’d be grateful for the first-hand experience!”

And that’s it! In about 8 sentences we’ve learned who Ann is, what she wants to do, why she wants to do it and how Tom can help her get there.

 

Work on creating your own elevator speech asking yourself the same questions. Try saying your speech out loud as you write it. It should sound like something you would say. Share your speech with your family and friends and get their thoughts. When you get it to a good place, write it down on one of those handy post-it notes and put it somewhere you see it all the time (your purse, wallet, laptop, vision board or bathroom mirror). You’ll need to update your speech depending on who you’re talking to and your goals, but now you’ve got a solid base to build future speeches.