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The Successful Pitcher Print
Career Tips - Supersonic Searching Mondays
Written by Abby Kohut   

Anybody who is actively searching for a job typically makes at least one or two appearances per month at an networking event, which may be called an "in-transition group", a job search group, or a career networking group. However you slice and dice it, becoming an effective networker is the ticket to your success.

At an in-transition networking event, you will typically be asked to describe yourself in 15 seconds - this is often referred to as an "elevator pitch". Your pitch must be a concise, carefully planned, and well-practiced description about your past and future employment that your mother should be able to understand and remember in the time it would take to ride on an elevator. Let's look at each component separately, shall we?

First, there's the word "concise". If you are in an elevator or at a networking group or on line at the supermarket, nobody wants to hear your whole life story, especially if you end it with a plea for a new job. What they do want to hear is what makes you fabulous…that is, what makes you so fabulous that IF they had a job, they would want to hire you. And you need to do that in 15 seconds or less.

The elevator pitch is a personal branding testimonial that differentiates you from your peers . It helps positions you as a leader in your field who knows how to fill a particular niche in the workplace better than anyone else. In short it is your "value proposition". It sells you to your next employer.

An elevator pitch must be memorable. It should have some sort of "hook" in it so that it triggers a memory about you. The best hook I remember was delivered by my friend Al, a VP of Advertising for a large firm. The last line of his elevator pitch was, "when you hire Al Adams, you get an A in Advertising.

An elevator pitch must be carefully planned – it should include statements about your accomplishments and, if possible, should quantify these accomplishments. For example, "in my last position, I was able to reduce operating expenses by 25%" or "in my role as the VP of Sales, I lead a team who more than tripled the sales quota.

An elevator pitch is a "pitch" for an opportunity. Think of it as your 15 second commercial in which you have to keep your audience entertained. You must be able to ask for the order but in a way that is not presumptuous. Something simple like this will do, "I am seeking an opportunity at a pharmaceutical company where I can use my strengths in clinical research to evaluate new products."

Last but not least, an elevator pitch must be something your mother would be able to understand. Most of the time, the person hearing your pitch will not be your future boss (or your mother). But…it could be your neighbor, your son's friend's father, or your networking buddy who will have absolutely no clue what you do even after you have explained it three times. The fact is that is doesn't really matter if they understand the details, but they do have to understand who to refer you to, should they hear of an opportunity. That, my friends, is the entire essence of the elevator pitch. Simple and memorable.

Once you have your pitch written, practice, practice, practice until the pitch because a part of who you are, so much so that it just rolls off your tongue. You don't have to memorize it - you can read it from a cheat sheet while at a networking event. But you'll come across as having more zeal for what you do if you have it rehearsed and memorized, and when the when the opportunity presents itself in a real life situation you'll be ready!

Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
An elevator pitch is your chance to tell anyone that you meet what you're all about in short order. Sometimes you'll have 15 seconds and sometimes you'll have 5 minutes. The key is to get the point across that you are someone who should absolutely be recommended for an interview. If you can accomplish that, you are well on your way!
 
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Drawn from my 18 years of experience and research in recruiting and Human Resources, my blog posts are intended to provide insight into what corporate recruiters and Human Resource professionals look for when they are evaluating your qualifications. Simply reading these blogs will not guarantee you success. However, consistently applying the strategies mentioned, as well as developing your own personal interview style, will greatly enhance your chances of victory amidst the competition. I wish you the best of luck with your search as you begin to take charge of your career!