Most professionals today know that they need a great 30 second commercial-or elevator speech-to effectively gather new business. But what about job hunters? Can a well-crafted 30 second commercial increase a job seeker’s chances of finding a new position? Absolutely! Used in both networking situations and in job interviews, your commercial succinctly conveys what you have accomplished in the past, and what you can do for a future employer.
While you are out of work, when asked in a social situation what it is you do for a living, instead of mumbling that you were recently laid off, give the inquirer your elevator speech. You never know who might be in a position to introduce you to your next employer. And once they hear you confidently profess how you helped your last company and what you are looking to do next, they will be happy to assist if they can.
In a job interview, more often than not the first question asked is something like, “Why don’t you tell me a little bit about yourself?” Rather than spouting off the names of your pets and your penchant for piano playing, hit them with your 30 second commercial. Voila! You are off to a great start.
There are four items you must address in a job hunting elevator speech. The first is a sentence summarizing your post high school education. And remember your grammar: a male graduate of a particular university is an alumnus, a female is an alumna. Don’t worry if you didn’t graduate, but don’t bring that point up either. Do mention if you graduated with honors or won any awards. Leave out the year you graduated unless it is recent or anticipated.
The next section is a brief synopsis of your professional career. This should be no more than two to three quick sentences or your audience might tune you out. Mention only what is relevant. If your previous job title was similar, state it. If it was senior or junior to the position you are seeking, leave it out and offer, “I’ve worked in industry XYZ for 13 years.”
The third section of your 30 second commercial is the most critical, and also the hardest for many people to craft. Here is where you mention one of your favorite accomplishments. Again, brevity is crucial. Give the problem, how you solved it, and the outcome as clearly as you can.
The wrap up of your elevator speech should let the listener know what job you are seeking.
Here is an example of a polished 30 second commercial:
I graduated summa cum laude from Regis University with a BS in Economics and a minor in Math. For the last fifteen years I’ve worked for various investment banks and I managed the regional hub office for Piper and Piper, supervising more than 40 employees. When I accepted the position the office had a profitability of 10%. I recognized three areas where efficiency could be improved and implemented gradual changes. In less than two years the office reached a profitability of 30%. I’m currently looking to use my experience in management directing an office of a mid to large size company.
Does a 30 second commercial have to be rattled off in 30 seconds? Your listener will never pull out a stop watch. The name does suggest, however, that it should be brief and a good guideline is one minute or less.
Practice your commercial in front of the mirror until you have it memorized. Then practice it on friends and family. It might feel a little awkward at first; after all, we’re conditioned not to toot our own horns. Soon, however, you’ll give it comfortably, taking the first step to using networking as a powerful tool in your job search.