When does an elevator pitch come in handy? Well, all the time, actually, but here’s an example. Say, you have just come from a screening interview with the HR person of a company you would love to work for. The interview went well. You step into the elevator to leave and the hiring manager, whom you haven’t chatted with yet, steps in beside you and introduces him or herself.

You can either choke and stumble through an awkward elevator ride of uncomfortable conversation, or you can deliver an eloquent, articulate, captivating, memorable “pitch about yourself.” That is your elevator pitch:  a 20 – 40 second introduction to who you are and what you do. It is prepared in advance, but delivered conversationally.

Ok, you aren’t a photo journalist who covers red carpets at film openings, and maybe you haven’t invented a cure for anything yet. But that doesn’t mean that in your own career history and industry you haven’t made a difference or racked up some accomplishments, and that is what your elevator pitch is going to convey.

Pat Drew, a career and executive coach in Connecticut says an elevator pitch is one of many tools that you need to have prepared in your job search tool kit. It is designed to get a conversation started. According to Drew, an EP is:

  1. 20 -40 seconds and can be up to 35 words long
  2. Memorable – the wording is catchy, playful, reflects something special about who you are or something you have done. “I introduced the squeezable ketchup bottle to Canada.”
  3. Unique and personal – it allows you to stand out like a giraffe in a field of mice. “I directed the broadcasting of the Pope’s visit to Canada for CBC.”
  4. Powerful – use powerful, positive words that extol passion and pride. Use intonation in your voice and make focused eye contact.
  5. Forward looking – beyond your work history, tell about what you are seeking now and what your contributions are.

The Outline

  1. The first line of the pitch tells what you do, and it exudes passion for your profession or position. “I am an engaging web editorial writer who generates greater traffic and user interactivity to major websites.”
  2. Mention the pain that your services address. “When your patrons aren’t returning to your restaurant, I…” or “When your technology was installed with a 19 in the year, I bring all systems into the 21st century.”
  3. Tell the benefits to working with you. This might be “I allow you to get a good night’s sleep.” Or “I stop the losses and start generating profits.”
  4. Share your education or credibility as is relevant to the audience. “I’m a journeyman electrician with 20 plus years commercial and residential experience.”
  5. Outline your goal. “As a food-procurement strategist I would like to speak to CEO’s who want to take their fast food chain to the next level of sales with innovative food products.”

I don’t recommend you substitute an elevator pitch for the answer to the question, “Tell me a bit about yourself” but it does have its place in the workplace and in the job search arena. Whether you are pitching a service, a product, yourself or a project, spend some time playing with some creative thoughts, positive words and enticing stories so you are prepared the next time someone asks you “What do you do?”


Colleen Clarke, Career Specialist & Corporate Trainer


Author of Networking How to
Build Relationships That Count
, How to Get a Job and Keep

Co-author of The Power of Mentorship; The Mastermind