The Thirty-Second Elevator Pitch Technique

Occasionally, the explanation of who you are and what you are looking for requires greater detail. Perhaps you are speaking with someone who is unfamiliar with your background. It may require that you provide more detail than the ten-second sound bite. However, it should still be a tightly structured answer.

Imagine getting onto an elevator in an office building after a job interview. Before the doors close, another person walks onto the elevator. You prepare yourself for the typically silent journey downward when that person turns to you and says, "I noticed you were interviewing with Jane Brown today at our company. What's your background?" The timer has started. You now have thirty seconds or less before the elevator reaches the bottom floor to succinctly state your background. Can you do it?

The Thirty-Second Elevator Pitch is something you should practice and perfect in advance. It is the basic introduction of who you are and what you are seeking. It will form the basis of your introductory message when networking, your opening statement in telephone contacts with employers, and the foundational start of your "Tell me about yourself" answer in interviewing.

Here is a sample example of a thirty-second elevator pitch:

"I'm a Senior at UW studying Computer Science. I have two prior internships, one with Facebook working with Java and one with Microsoft working with Azure. I'm seeking a job after graduation in software development, ideally in cloud computing. I'm open to considering roles either in Seattle or Silicon Valley.

Don't just assume you will have a great answer when the time comes. As you reach out to network with others, you will be required to cut to the chase quickly. Most contacts are not looking for your life history. They are looking for you to give your bottom line. Use the Summary section of your resume as the starting point. Develop a level of comfort in your personal presentation of who you are and what you are looking for by rehearsing and practicing delivery of your Thirty Second Elevator Pitch. Do it over and over until you get it right. Practice with your roommate and give your roommate the opportunity to practice with you as well.