Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey

Pitch Charming: How to create an elevator pitch

“Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?”

This was the question that Steve Jobs of Apple posed to John Sculley, an executive who was working at Pepsi, who Jobs wanted to take on the role of CEO at Apple. Despite being offered a generous salary and impressive stock options, it was this one line that stuck with Sculley and made him take the job at Apple.

On his CBC Radio show Under the Influence, marketing and advertising authority Terry O’Reilly described this example as the “best elevator pitch in history” in an episode of the same name.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine JaremeyWhat’s an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is a short, concise encapsulation of an idea. But, it’s so compelling, that it ignites action. It’s an icebreaker that will hopefully lead to having a more in-depth dialogue in the future.

The most important thing about an elevator pitch is its length. Think about it as how you’d describe something to someone in the brief time it takes to go from the first floor to the second floor in an elevator. However, some people say it can be as long as 60 seconds. My rule of thumb? The shorter, the better. There’s only so much the audience can digest and remember in a brief amount of time.

O’Reilly describes the elevator pitch as the test of an idea. If you can’t short-form your idea, it lacks focus and clarity. This is why an elevator pitch is a core communications tool that’s often used to describe companies, brands and marketing campaigns.

Pitching your personal brand
When it comes to your career and marketing yourself in the job market, an elevator pitch can be a compelling way to express your personal brand. Your personal brand is the image or impression that you can establish about yourself and your career in the minds of others, including contacts in your network, your employer or potential employers. Learn more about cultivating your personal brand here.

Distilling this information into an elevator pitch can convey that your career has a clear direction, that you understand your strengths, and that you know how you can provide value.

What will your elevator pitch look like? Here’s a simple recipe:

Step 1: Start with what you do
Step 2: Then, add context to convey the value you bring
Step 3: Finish with where you’re going next

When you add these together, the finished product can look something like:

“As an accounting expert with my CPA and five years of experience working at a global accounting firm, I’m now focusing on increasing my management experience while providing counsel directly to clients.”

“I am a public relations specialist with three years of experience in the technology industry. I’ve worked on award-winning campaigns and have secured top-tier media coverage. Now, I’m building my project management and strategic planning expertise.”

If you’re struggling at first with creating your elevator pitch, don’t worry. Distilling an idea – or something as complex as your career – to its very essence is an art. For inspiration, listen to the full Under the Influence episode for examples of the elevator pitches created by leading companies and brands. Try running drafts of your elevator pitch past friends, family members or peers at work and ask for their constructive input.

Want to learn more about crafting an elevator pitch for your personal brand? Find more tips here.

When you’re done, and if you’re feeling brave, share your elevator pitch in the comments!

Image credits: Pixabay.com; Pexels.com.

Resume, cover letter, job interview, career, public relations, project management, Pencil Skirts & Punctuation, Laine Jaremey
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Can a strong personal brand help you land a job?

I’ve recently posted about the importance of cultivating your personal brand. ICYMI, your personal brand is the image or impression that you can establish about yourself in the minds of others so that they can easily identify what makes you unique, and what you’re considered the go-to expert or resource on. This group includes colleagues, contacts in your network, your employer or potential employers.

Brand 4 JPEGWhile I know that personal brands are important, I’m always on the lookout for new research and information. I recently came across a CBC Radio Spark episode that revealed that personal brands aren’t the ultimate predictor of career success.

The episode featured an interview with anthropologist Ilana Gershon of the University of Chicago. Gershon wrote a new book called Down and Out in the New Economy. In the interview, she explained that a shift in the relationship between employer and employee has resulted in the way that we present ourselves as “businesses” in the job search.

“We are imagining ourselves as a bundle of skills, of assets… that we’re constantly having to manage, and we’re also supposed to be continually enhancing them.”

Ilana Gershon

Gershon studied how people find work in today’s job market. I was surprised to hear that although job searchers are routinely told to work on their personal brands, Gershon found no evidence this was effective with hiring managers.

What made a difference? Sixty-one per cent of people got jobs through workplace ties and references.

Note that this study was conducted across many different industries. In certain industries (for example, PR and communications), personal brands may hold more clout and be a worthwhile investment of your time. Further, your personal brand may make an impact with others in an organization, beyond only the hiring manager.

What can we take away from this finding? Your personal brand is important. But it’s not necessarily going to be the deciding factor that gets you hired.

This confirms that there are other items to consider. For example, your connections, years of experience, skillset, understanding of the industry, education and designations play a role. Your portfolio, resume, references and interview skills are critical as well.

So, it’s beneficial to be well-balanced. Spend time thinking about and cultivating your personal brand in a way that works for you. But, also invest in the other elements of your professional and job search skills.

How do you stand out in the crowd of job seekers?

Image credits: Pixabay.com; cbc.ca (Ilana Gershon).

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“Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton.”

What is the ‘confidence gap’ and how can it impact my career?

the current

Yesterday I heard an interesting interview on CBC Radio’s The Current with journalists/authors Katty Kay and Claire Shipman, whose new book, The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance — What Women Should Know, discusses their take on why the infamous glass ceiling still exists. The ‘confidence gap’ concept was developed by Kay and Shipman, and is a result of their research and interviews, which are described in the book. They report that a lack of confidence and a high level of insecurity limits women’s progression in their careers, particularly as compared to those of men.

A part of the interview that stuck with me was when Kay and Shipman reflected on the perceptions of self-confidence held by female senior executives and seasoned politicians. They mentioned that as Hilary Clinton was thinking of running for Senate the first time, the main barrier she faced was a lack of confidence. She realized she was being held back by a fear of getting in the race because she might not win.

Then, a high school basketball coach in New Jersey said to her, “Dare to compete, Mrs. Clinton.” These simple words are what it took for Hilary Clinton to launch her political career, as she realized that the worst that could have happened would be to have lost.

After hearing the rest of the interview, I reflected on Clinton’s experience and wondered if a man have had this same fear holding him back in the same scenario.

Also, does this type of thinking play a role in the lives of working women everywhere? I wonder if it results in women not taking a leap toward a dream job or career change.

Check out the full The Current interview online. The authors have also developed a quiz you can take that will help to reveal the factors that determine confidence, as well as the links between self-esteem and confidence. Take the quiz here.

What do you think about the ‘confidence gap’? Does it exist? Share in the comments.

Image credit: cbc.ca.