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How to Write an Elevator Pitch That Sounds Like You AND Gets You the Job

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Use this FREE 3-page worksheet to create or refine your elevator pitch.

Everybody dreads the idea of giving an elevator speech.

60 seconds. Trapped in a tiny moving box with someone who could make or break your career. AND you’re supposed to wow them with a mini-pitch all about you? How is that NOT nerve wracking?

The thing is, it doesn’t have to be. With just a little bit of preparation you can craft an elevator pitch that you’ll want to shout to the world—and we’ll help show you how.

In this article you’ll get:

  • A look at EXACTLY what can make or break your elevator pitch
  • 8 tangible steps for crafting an elevator speech that gets you results
  • Tips for explaining complicated situations, quickly and creatively
  • 3 real-life examples of elevator pitch “angles”
  • A FREE downloadable elevator pitch template for crafting your own gem of an elevator speech

What is an Elevator Pitch or Elevator Speech?

Before getting into the specifics of how to write an elevator pitch, it’s helpful to understand exactly what an elevator pitch is and what it’s used for.

While elevator is in the name, an elevator speech or pitch is really just a concise and snappy way of explaining your career story to other people—regardless of who they are or where the speech takes place.

So yes, you’ll want your elevator speech to be effective with people you meet while moving between floors, but a well-crafted elevator pitch will also serve you at any kind of meetup, party, conference, or unexpected run-in at the grocery store.

You never know where you might rub elbows with potential employers or clients, and their decision whether or not to hire you can happen in the blink of an eye. Your well-prepared elevator speech is a frontline tool for influencing that decision in a positive direction.

What Makes a Great Elevator Pitch?

Before tackling exactly HOW to write an elevator pitch (which we’ll cover below), It’s important to understand what NOT to do. That includes:

  • NOT sounding like a one-dimensional corporate drone
  • NOT boring or confusing people
  • NOT leaving people wondering exactly what is it you do
  • NOT leaving out your personal passions and side projects
  • NOT sounding sleezy or salesy (“I facilitate meaningful interactions by leveraging enterprise empowerment.”)
  • NOT underselling OR overselling your skills and experience

With the nots out of the way, here are the steps you need to write a perfect elevator pitch,

8 Steps to Write an Elevator Pitch You Can Be Proud Of

As cringe-worthy as it feels to pitch yourself to a client or employer, that’s not what makes coming up with a great elevator pitch so difficult.

The tricky part is coming up with concise but cohesive story about yourself that’s accurate, but ALSO positions you to get what you want—whether that’s a job offer, a business card, or just a firm handshake.

Here are a few methods that can help you connect the dots:

1. Say as little as possible

  • An elevator pitch isn’t your whole life story, and it isn’t even the highlights. Instead, it’s the one to three things you want to emphasize about you and your ambitions.
  • Cater your elevator pitch to the situation you’re in as much as possible. If you’re at a tech conference, it might not be the best moment to talk about your Etsy shop, and if you’re talking to a blogger you admire, it makes more sense to focus on your own blogging goals than the professional duathlon you placed in last summer.
  • Instead of overwhelming listeners with your whole story, only include the parts of your story that are relevant to the specific situation.

2. Decide what kind of work you’re looking for

  • What are YOU interested in? What kind of work do you want?Before you can write an elevator pitch that will help you reach your goals, you need to know what those goals are. Once you know what you want, it’s easier to portray yourself in a way that makes sense.
  • For example, if you really want to be a web designer, you should emphasize the web design work you already do rather than spending a lot of time on the dead-end job you want to ditch. And if you want to be a data-driven marketer, talk about your marketing background and how excited you are about data before you mention the 5 years you spent as a banker.

3. Figure out who you’re talking to

  • Your elevator pitch is only valuable if the person you’re talking to understands it. In the same way you should cater your elevator pitch to the specific situation, you should do as much as you can to craft your pitch based on the person you’re talking to.
  • Watch your business vocabulary-slash-jargon as well.Don’t throw a ton of developer acronyms at someone outside the tech industry, and don’t over-explain Facebook marketing to a social media marketing pro.

4. Focus on the problems you solve (not what you do)

  • For instance: instead of saying you’re a customer service specialist, say that you communicate with customers and keep them happy throughout their experience with your brand.
  • Or instead of saying you’re a copywriter, say that you help entrepreneurs and businesses create content that converts users into customers.

5. If you’re in a bind, describe what you do in one day

If you’re ever thrown into a situation where you weren’t expecting to need a prepared elevator pitch, a good fallback is to describe your day-in-the-life. So rather than saying you founded a nonprofit, say that you create opportunities for underprivileged girls to learn how to code.

6. Include numbers and concrete details

Rather than saying you help girls “learn to code,” say you help preteens learn HTML and CSS. Maybe even include how many kids your company works with annually. More details are more memorable.

7. Take something out

You don’t have to say everything relevant at once. If you’re interesting, they’ll ask for more. Start with one or two tidbits about yourself and see what makes the person say, “Ooh, wow!” You’ll figure out what they’re interested in, and then you can share more information according to their interests.

8. Turn it into a conversation

Sam Horn, author of Got Your Attention?, throws the whole idea of an elevator “pitch” out the window. Instead, she likes to think of it as an elevator conversation. Rather than taking a big gulp of air and spewing your story, find a way to make your spiel relevant to your listener right away.

For example, if you are an email marketer, try something like:

Them: “What do you do?”

You: “Do you get any email newsletters from different brands you’ve purchased something from?”

Them: “Yes, I get SO many Everlane emails!”

You: “I work with brands to write email newsletters that will make you buy something again, and not unsubscribe.”

Them: “Oh wow! What a wizard! You’re hired!”

3 Incredible Elevator Pitch Examples (+ a Template!)

You don’t have to start from scratch when it comes to drafting a great elevator pitch.Even if your situation feels unruly or unique, others have probably had the same trouble talking about themselves that you’re having.

To show you how common these kinds of circumstances are, I found three Skillcrush students and alumni who have their own situations to explain. So take a look, and see if your story aligns with one of them. Maybe you can take a page from one of their book—or, you know, three or four sentences.

When you’re a stay at home parent

Christine

Old Elevator Pitch: “I’m a stay-at-home mom, and I’ve recently started doing web design.”

Analysis: Christine says herself that this pitch “leaves out any excitement.” But she says she’s been scared to super-charge her elevator pitch because, “I feel new and not very confident yet. What if I sound more excited and I end up with people interested in my services before I feel ready?”

Sound familiar? Well, fuhgettaboutit! If you’ve actually done the work, there’s no need to feel unsure. Don’t oversell yourself but DON’T sell yourself short. And, if you’re a stay-at-home parent, you can definitely connect the amazing work you do raising a family with the amazing work you do online.

New Elevator Pitch: I’m a web designer who’s making the Internet a more beautiful and positive place! My background in counselling helps me understand what the bloggers and small business owners I work with need. And, thanks to working in administration AND now being a stay-at-home mom, I’m great at coming up with solutions, no matter what you throw at me.

When you have a break in your career

Monica

Old elevator pitch: “I’m a stay-at-home mom who helps people with technology on the side.”

Analysis: As Monica puts it: “I do so much but it doesn’t fit into any PERFECT MOLD and not much of it is paid, so I usually downplay what I do.” She’s concerned about having been out of the workforce for 15 years and says she’s just done “small jobs” in tech.

But there’s no reason for Monica not to talk about her work just because she’s not getting paid for it—yet! She’s built websites and trained private individuals and companies to use their technology, so she has every right to claim those digital skills as hers!

New elevator pitch: I’m a technophile and web developer specializing in testing, website maintenance, and tech support for small businesses. And I’m also passionate about being a mom and a co-owner of a medical business.

When you’ve got one foot out the door

Chris

Old elevator pitch: “I work in real estate, working with clients and managing a boutique office. I’m also a freelance photographer and designer.” Or, “I work in real estate, working with clients and managing a boutique office, but I developed a social network with a couple friends that just launched last year.”

Analysis: Chris admits that her elevator pitch has been a challenge for her. “It changes every time because I vacillate between saying what I do now versus what I’m working towards, and it ends up being a rambling, inarticulate run on.” She’s trying to leave her current job behind and “focus on creative projects as much as possible.”

It’s scary and not a decision to make lightly, but—once you’ve set your sights on a new career— it’s time for to leave the past behind and focus on the future. So make sure your pitch is up-to-date too.

New elevator pitch: I’m a tech triple threat — designer, developer and digital project manager. My superpower is my organizational skills paired with my creative background in photography, graphics, and social media marketing. And, currently, I’m part of a team developing a social networking app.

To make it super simple for you to get your own pitch ready, just download our fast and easy worksheet template that will take you through the process of crafting what to say to get the tech job you’ve been dreaming of.

Get Our <span>FREE</span> Elevator Pitch Worksheet

Get Our FREE Elevator Pitch Worksheet

Use this FREE 3-page worksheet to create or refine your elevator pitch.

Kelli Smith

Kelli handles customer support here at Skillcrush – plus she's an early alum of Skillcrush 101! She's also taken advanced web development classes and has been an organizer in the Helsinki Rails Girls chapter.

In addition to helping the Skillcrush team and students, Kelli loves tech podcasts, cute Corgi photos and, most of all, catalan-style line dancing – as a true Texan living in Finland would!

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      Hey Alex! Pursuing something you have passion for is a great story to tell. People who respect learning tend to respect those that relentlessly pursue it :)

      You can also get started on side projects to build your portfolio, like we talk about here: https://skillcrush.com/2014/08/11/portfolio-advice-2/

      It seems like the challenge you’re having is that you haven’t generated the momentum yet to feel like you’re a pro yet. That’s ok, nearly everyone feels that way at some point. Even if you’re building side projects that don’t pay, it will help you gain momentum, have more to talk about (for your pitch!), and it will help you find the things you really enjoy doing.

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