When you’re ready to hit the job market, creating an elevator pitch should be right up there on your to-do list next to making a resume.

Surprised? An elevator pitch is essential for starting a career-based conversation in this day and age. Plus, an elevator pitch appeals to the modern recruiter: the average person has an attention span of 8 seconds. Although that seems like a short amount of time to define yourself, with the right pitch, you can grab their attention.

Even if you’re not looking for a new job, the elevator pitch can still be a useful tool. You can use a well-honed short speech for a variety of situations: networking, mentorship, and sales all could use an elevator pitch.

Read on for what you need to know about an elevator pitch, tips for making one and examples of pitches that will open up the conversation to your next job.

What is an Elevator Pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short speech where you summarize your accomplishments and goals in a couple of concise sentences. It should take no longer than 30 seconds.

The point of the elevator speech is to capture the interest of your listener in a matter of seconds. It isn’t something that you should or even could make up on the fly. It needs to be planned out precisely to avoid any fluff or filler words that might bore your listener.

In conversation, there are few things that you can really plan to say ahead of time. You never know exactly how someone is going to respond. However, elevator speeches have an advantage for the introverted or shy: it’s a conversation you can actually plan. It gives you the chance to come across as polished and put together.

With a little forethought, the question “tell me about yourself?” can go from your most dreaded question to your favorite.

Tips for Making Your Elevator Pitch

Coming up with an elevator speech doesn’t need to be intimidating. Here are some tips for putting together an elevator pitch that will get your audience asking more:

Write Everything Down

Start your process by getting everything down on paper. Write down your accomplishments and goals. Think about your strengths. Don’t think too hard: let it flow. 

Once you can take a look at it all on paper, start to edit ruthlessly. Get rid of anything not related to your intended career. Delete of any fluff and phrases that aren’t concrete. 

For example, instead of saying, “I’m a great leader,” try, “I had 99% on-time execution for projects while running a team of 15.” Also, don’t describe yourself as a “people-person.” You’ll immediately start to see eyes glaze over once you use that phrase.

Create different versions of your elevator pitch to emphasize various aspects of your career. It will allow you to be flexible, depending on the situation you find yourself in. For example, you may want to use jargon with other industry professionals to showcase your expertise. However, if you’re speaking with recruiters, you may want to use more natural language to lay out your accomplishments more clearly.

Practice, then Practice Some More

One common fallacy with public speaking is that practicing too much will make you sound robotic and unnatural. In reality, though, the opposite is true. The more you practice, the more natural it will feel to you, and that’s how it will come across to everyone else.

Practice on family and friends. Get honest feedback from them. It’s better to get constructive criticism from your loved ones than potentially miss out on a valuable opportunity because your pitch is too dry. Bonus points if they aren’t a part of your industry. They can give you the perspective of a recruiter or hiring manager that doesn’t have a deep understanding of your position.

Record yourself to see yourself firsthand. You can get a sense of where you need to practice and get an honest view of how you sell yourself.

It’s also essential to remember body language as you practice. You want to express confidence and enthusiasm to draw your listener into the conversation. Keep your head up, chest out, and maintain eye contact. Also, avoid closed-off body language: crossed arms, slumped shoulders, etc. Many experts believe that communication is 55% body language, 38% tone of voice, and only 7% of words spoken. Your non-verbal communication counts.

Elevator Pitch Examples

Position: Sales Representative

Hi, I’m Sam. I’ve been a sales representative at company XYZ where I offer creative solutions for business professionals. I have consistently exceeded my quota the past five years and currently rank as their top salesperson. My goal is to translate my expertise into additional customers for your company.

Position: Graphic Designer

Hi, my name is Abby. It’s nice to meet you! I’m a graphic designer at company ABC. I am passionate about creating striking and intuitive designs that attract clients in our marketing collateral. I also have a master’s in graphic design. I’m looking into moving along my career path and would like to use my expertise in an Art Director role.

Use an Elevator Pitch to Get Your Next Job

With the right pitch, you can start a conversation for your next job. Don’t wait until you’re speaking with a recruiter or leader to put one together, though. If you start out with one perfected, you’ll be ready for the job market!

How would your elevator pitch sound? Leave yours in the comments below!