Whether you’re networking in a coffee shop or interviewing at your dream job, answering this simple question can be quite daunting. Mastering your elevator pitch is a great trick to have up your sleeve at any point and talking about yourself is easier than you think.
Where do you start? Think about these questions and brainstorm answers:
What did you do and why? What past achievements got you to where you are today? Did your education play a part? Why did you choose this path to get to where you are today?
What are you doing and why? What do you love about what you do? What challenges you? What is your day-to-day like? Why did you choose your current occupation?
What do you want to do next and why? Are you looking to switch it up, whether it be job function, company size, location, or industry? If so, how has your prior experience prepared you to succeed? If not, where do you envision yourself in the future?
Next, start pulling the past, present, and future “what’s” and “why’s” into a brief pitch. Of course, not everyone’s elevator pitch will follow the exact same format, but make sure you discuss what you do and always be ready to explain your intentions.
Here's an example:
What did you do and why? “I went to Carnegie Mellon and got a degree in Design Management because I was interested in FinTech from a product management standpoint.”
What are you doing and why? “I am a Product Manager at [Company X] and I manage a team of five developers. I am also getting UI/UX certified through an online General Assembly course because I’m interested in a more hands on role in the future.”
What do you want to do next and why? “Leveraging my UI/UX certification and product management experience, I’m excited to transition into a Product Designer role. I’m focusing my search on companies in the Bay Area because my spouse recently got a job there.”
If your pitch is a bit wordy, you might be wondering, how do I remember all of this?
Well luckily, you don’t have to memorize it word for word. From each section, pick a keyword that summarizes the main point and answers your “what” question. In this example, we could use the keywords: “Design Management”, “[Company X]”, and “San Francisco”. Remember, your elevator pitch isn’t your entire story, just enough to introduce yourself to a new opportunity. As the conversation or interview process moves forward, you’ll have plenty of space to expand on the details of your experience and goals.
The last step is: Practice, practice, practice! It’s easy to get thrown off guard when asked to tell your story. To avoid sounding awkward and robotic, rehearse your pitch so it comes out naturally. Write it down, do a run through with a friend, and record yourself. As you’re playing it back, ask yourself if you:
The elevator pitch is something you’ll repeat a million times during an interview process. You’ll use it during phone screens, in-person behavioral interviews, case studies, the final round interview, and even your first day on the job -- so make sure your pitch is customizable to be relevant for everyone you meet. Every time you answer that, “Can you tell me about yourself?” question, take a deep breath, smile, and go tell your story!