Got an elevator pitch that’s failing to take you up? In other words, you’re stuck.
Chances are it’s time to revise your old trusted wingman. And it can pay off.
Elevator pitches provide a snapshot of you, your work and the impact you’ve had in your role. If folks on the receiving end of the pitch like it enough, they might point you to job openings and networking opportunities.
“It’s worth distinguishing between an introduction and an elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is hopefully a good introduction, but not all introductions are elevator pitches in the way they are structured or thoughtfully delivered,” Paige Costello, product lead for San Francisco-based work-management tools maker Asana, told Built In.
And if your elevator pitch falls flat, well, don’t expect good results.
“I met someone and their elevator pitch was unsuccessful. They were unapproachable. They weren’t friendly,” recalled Elizabeth Burgos, a talent acquisition manager for tech at Walmart. “Their elevator pitch was they wanted to be a manager because they had put in the time as a software engineer and felt that should be the next step. I didn’t hear anything about the value they could bring to the table, what expertise they had, or passion.”
Important Elements for Your 1-Minute Elevator Pitch
- Don’t talk fast, even though you have approximately 1 minute for pitch
- Be concise, don’t ramble
- Provide your full name
- Note your job title
- Confidently, enthusiastically, explain the impact you’ve had as a result of your work
- Mention your career goals
- Unless volunteered, close with an ask: exchange business cards, connect to their network, knowledge of job openings, ability to forward your resume
- Practice your elevator pitch, many, many... many times
Fast forward a couple years later. Burgos again met this same software engineer and there was a substantial difference in his elevator pitch.
“They had an elevator pitch where they knew who they were, their value and what they could bring to the table if hired as a people manager,” Burgos said. “They knew their passion in software engineering. They knew their story and when you have confidence there’s strength in your story. Their pitch was so different and great that it made me want to work with them.”
How to Tell Your Elevator Pitch Falls Flat
You know when your tire’s flat. You know when your soda is flat. But can you always tell when your elevator pitch is flat? Here are some signs to look for, according to hiring managers and in-house recruiters.
“If you don’t get any follow up questions, that’s a good indication that you didn’t hook your audience and make them curious to learn more. That’s the number one indicator,” said Asana’s Costello.
Not only are you hearing crickets as the target of your elevator pitch remains quiet, but you may also notice you’re not getting any eye contact.
“I would say if somebody keeps looking at their phone, or looking elsewhere, that’s probably a big sign that they’re not very interested in what you’re saying,” said Sasa Ferrari, vice president of talent acquisition for San Mateo, California-based AI company Momentive, formerly known as SurveyMonkey. “I think that’s a pretty strong sign that you’ll need to revisit your pitch for sure.”
When to Switch Elevators
It’s time to switch out your elevator pitch when it falls flat or if there is a substantial change in your role, scope of work, skills, or goals, according to hiring managers.
“If you find your elevator pitch is not really representing how you spend your time and energy and how you’re thinking these days, always reserve the right to update it to reflect who you are now,” Costello said.
Elevator pitches are not one size fits all.
“When you have a new goal, a new skill, you will need to create a new elevator pitch,” Burgos said. “Your elevator pitch will always evolve when you evolve.”
Your elevator pitch will also need to pivot depending on your audience, the environment of where you are doing your pitching, the goals of your pitch, hiring managers and in-house recruiters said.
Some companies may value certain skills or superpowers more than others. Do your research, Drake Ong, head of tech recruiting at Reddit in San Francisco, told Built In. He noted a superpower should be a defining characteristic or soundbite that will differentiate you from others.
And it’s also time to revise your elevator pitch if you feel you have something more compelling to add to your pitch, or if your old pitch is no longer compelling for the new objective that you have in your career, said Biron Clark, founder of Texas-based career coaching and recruiting firm CareerSidekick.
How to Revise Your Elevator Pitch
“I would suggest having a formula or structure that you keep but the information can change,” said Clark. “I’d find it easier to keep the structure, do it all over again, rather than making edits to what I had before.”
He advises job seekers to structure their pitch using three pillars. First, tell them who you are and what you do. Then tell the listener why they should care. And finally, what you want as a result.
Making edits, however, would be Ferrari’s approach. When reviewing your old elevator pitch, ask yourself: What’s still relevant? What parts fail to get you excited? What parts can you keep? Aim to revisit your elevator pitch at least several times a year to make sure its current, Ferrari said.
Another approach you can try is start from scratch when revising your elevator pitch. You can also compare it with the old version to see whether you’ve left something out that should be carried over into the new version, Costello suggested.
And once you have the final version of your pitch, Burgos stresses “practice, practice and practice.”
Below you’ll find an example of how to revise your elevator pitch. The key is it needs to be compelling.
A Flat Elevator Pitch
I’m Alex Smith, the lead UX designer at Acme autonomous vehicle automotive. Nice to meet you. I noticed you are driving an X car that has autonomous braking features. I designed a special dashboard alert at Acme when the brakes are automatically applied. Our customers loved that feature and submitted the most user responses Acme had ever seen for a new feature. I’m interested to hear what design challenges your company faces and maybe I can help.
A Revised Elevator Pitch
I’m Alex Smith, a UX manager at Acme autonomous vehicle automotive. Nice to meet you. I noticed you are driving an X car that has autonomous braking features. My team recently designed a special alert if a bicyclist is in a driver’s blindspot. They’re a great design team and the number of patents we’ve registered has doubled since I was promoted to manager, because I removed several barriers in the process that I encountered when I was the lead UX designer. I’m very passionate about finding ways to help the team do what they need to do. My passion not only helps the team but also the company. I’m interested to hear what logistical challenges your managers face and maybe I can help.