Has anyone ever turned to you and said “Tell me about yourself” or “What do you do?” For many, this results in a slight panic before they stumble over their words and spit out a lame answer about where they work or what town they’re from. Most of the time, that’s the end of the conversation.
For job seekers or those looking to advance their careers, this is a huge missed opportunity!
Creating a concise and effective elevator pitch will help you turn any networking conversation into a productive connection. I like to break it down into 5 parts: Background, Turning Point, Passion, Purpose, and Goal. We’ll go through each one with specific focus on what’s going to be the most relevant so make sure to follow along with this worksheet!
To begin your story, tell a little bit about where you came from. This could be a line about your previous employer, an experience that shaped your career, or just a statement about you personally. Not sure where to start? Ask yourself these questions:
- Most days you can find me…
- I am mostly known for…
- People often ask me for advice about…
- I love serving the world by…
- The things I am most passionate about are…
- I enjoy working with people who…
- I have been featured in…
- When I’m not busy, you can catch me…
- Here are 5 things you might not know about me…
The bottom line is that stories sell. Take a look at the corporate world: Under Armour is a company that has perfected the art of sharing their story. When they launched, everyone told them that they had no chance to compete with Nike, the giant. Instead of backing down, they incorporated that into their brand story and embraced the “underdog” mentality. Years later, they have grown to compete with Nike and still appeal to those looking to beat the odds.
The same principles apply to personal brands. What about your background will make you successful?
EXAMPLE: After graduating from Clemson University, I worked for several years as a marketing consultant helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses.
Your turning point can be very simple – what brought you here? Why are you looking for a career change? This could be anything from graduation, re-entering the workforce, or just realizing that your prior role wasn’t the perfect fit. If the latter is the case, make sure your turning point doesn’t turn into a bashing session for your previous job by highlighting what you’re looking for in a new role rather than what was wrong with the old job.
EXAMPLE: Though I was very successful, even helping one client grow from $2M to $30M, I realized that I wasn’t making as big an impact as I wanted to.
When I ask my clients what they’re passionate about, I typically get a “deer in the headlights” look. It’s a tough question for many who haven’t put thought into it recently. This lack of passion in the workplace is what ultimately encouraged me to start my business, so I believe strongly in the importance of determining what will make you excited to wake up and go to work every morning – and then chase after it! Think about what you love talking about, what makes you light up, what you could never get tired of doing. It doesn’t necessarily have to relate to your job at this point.
Then, incorporate that into your story. If you’re passionate about sports, include a sentence about that even if you don’t know how it may translate into a job.
EXAMPLE: Through working with students at my local college, I discovered that I am passionate about helping young professionals find and build careers that are fulfilling to them.
Take your passion one step further and state your purpose. How do you want your passion to translate into your day-to-day life? Take the brand Toms as an example. If you’re familiar with their story, you know that they are passionate about helping those in need. Their purpose is to grow their company in order to continue to give back. To date, Toms has given more than 50 million pairs of shoes to children in need, has helped restore sight to over 360,000 people, and has helped provide over 250,000 weeks of safe water in six countries.
Your purpose doesn’t necessarily need to be as global as that example, but share a little bit about how you want to serve your company, the community, or the world.
EXAMPLE: So I started my business to be able to work with them one on one to land jobs that they love.
It has been said that “Goals transform a random walk into a chase.” Being deliberate about how you present yourself will help make sure that each conversation you have brings you closer to your end goal. When you conclude your elevator pitch with a specific goal, you make it easy for people to understand how they can help you achieve it.
EXAMPLE: Currently, I’m looking to fill my remaining 2 client spots for the fall.
80% of jobs today are not posted online so relationships, networking, and conversations are a crucial part of career development. In other words, people hire people, not resumes. Creating a personal brand that sets you up for success will help you differentiate yourself among your peers and land a job you love.