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How to Sell Yourself Fast With an Elevator Pitch

The Weekend Job Search Assignment #11: Get to the point and impress your interviewer with a carefully constructed personal story

Welcome to week 11 of The Weekend Job Search, our ongoing series that breaks the whole job-search process into 13 totally doable to-do items.

Last week, you got to know the company and position you’re interviewing—or hoping to interview with—by doing your research.

This week, you’re going to develop a job-landing response to the holy grail of interview questions: “So, tell me about yourself.”

This open-ended stumper is one of the most common interview questions and can leave some job seekers speechless. Fortunately, there’s a way to nail your response and start your interview out in the best light possible: with an elevator pitch, a quick, compelling career story that can be told in the time it takes to ride with someone from the lobby to their floor.

The Weekend Job Search Assignment #11

Compose Your Story/Elevator Pitch

The good news? Developing your pitch is relatively simple: You want to express what you do in your current role, how you contribute, and where you’d like to be and why.

Keep it short, around 30 to 45 seconds, and targeted to the role and company to which you’re applying. If you can organically fit your accomplishments into your story, so much the better.

1. Develop your story.

Right now, take a few minutes to write out a draft of your elevator pitch. Need some help getting started? Use our Mad Libs–style cheat sheet below:

Currently, I’m working/studying as a [job/education description], where I [briefly explain what you do, listing transferable skills to the job you’re applying for, if possible].

One of my greatest strengths is my ability to [list your greatest workplace strength and possibly have it lead into a recent workplace accomplishment].

Now, I’m looking to [explain the direction you’re looking to go]. The opportunity to [something that excites you about the role] really drew me into this role as I believe/my goal is/because [back up why the role excites you].

Let’s see that played out in an example:

Currently, I’m working as a social media manager, where I curate content, analyze the effectiveness of posts and develop social media campaigns for our clients.”

One of my greatest strengths is my ability to stay on top of digital trends. Just recently, I developed a campaign inspired by a trending topic and upped our Twitter followers by 25 percent, while increasing engagement by over 35 percent.

Now, I’m looking to take my skills in social and expand into a marketing strategy role. The opportunity to develop social- and content-heavy marketing campaigns, as your company does so well, drew me into this role.

I believe there is a strong need for campaigns that, while also targeting traditional channels, work hard to build and nurture a brand’s online community.

2. Edit your pitch.

Whether you used our template or developed your pitch from scratch, a short pitch can always using some trimming.

Use a timer and read your pitch. If it goes over 60 seconds, see what you can do to shorten it. Ask yourself: Am I showing my transferable skills? Is it clear I developed this pitch specifically for this interview (is it targeted)? Does it make me stand apart from the competition?

If needed, make your revisions now.

3. Practice aloud.

You don’t want it to be spoken for the first time in the interview. Practice saying your pitch aloud and really get it down.

Speaking at a casual pace, make sure you’re not going over time. And remember to smile!

And that’s week 11!

Next week, you’ll learn a new skill to add your resume—from the privacy of your apartment, at a coffee shop or even at a park with Wi-Fi!

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