Guest Post from Colm Cavey of Professional Career Consulting

Your Elevator Pitch….?

Recently, watching an old disaster movie on TV and half asleep, I was jolted awake by the sound of a Nuclear Alert Siren, an alarm bell ringing and a close-up image of a red screen with a flashing message: “Radiation Leak – Reactor #2”.

I woke quickly and Yes! I thought to myself, That’s It! That is precisely how I describe the well practised and much loved ‘Elevator Pitch’ that a lot of people have adopted as part of their introduction.

Again and again, I have what I can only describe it as being verbally assaulted by people belting out their Elevator Pitch in the belief that I am interested and want to hear every little detail of what they say.

In fact, it’s quite the opposite. When confronted with this I immediately hear that nuclear alert siren inside my head and imagine the red flashing screen but with a different message. This time it says;

‘Information Overload – slow down’.

Clients often say to me I don’t seem to be getting on too well at interview. I have my elevator pitch perfected, and I make sure to get in all the important stuff.

Your what! I reply. Yes, my elevator pitch like you told me, is the answer. No, I never told anyone to do that. I would have said something completely different.

The term “Elevator Pitch” is a term I dislike. It’s a term that seems to have been adopted by a great many as the standard term when describing an initial introductory meeting. It’s almost part of the dictionary like hoovering the carpet even though you’re using a vacuum cleaner.

Think Elevator pitch, and that is exactly what you will unconsciously prepare without any regard to who has to listen to it. To me, the term describes your introduction as, pre-prepared, false, insincere, and almost disrespectful to those you meet. In seconds they will identify this prepared script for what it is; a thoughtless delivery compressing far too much information into a short a time. It will squeeze too much detail into 60/90 seconds, and most certainly, it will not be naturally you. It makes for very unpleasant listening.

The most important thing to remember is before you sell your skills or experience you must;

Sell yourself

You must introduce yourself and in your own natural way, with a friendly smile and show respect. A few small, easy interactions are all that’s needed to gently introduce your …….. wait for it;

Your Personal Presentation

What’s the difference? You might ask. The answer is your demeanour and the sincerity of what you have to say. A personal presentation, without trying will be more friendly, less pressurised and more interesting to listen to as you will only touch very gently on the key issues you have carefully selected and which you wish to introduce.

More often than not this kind of presentation sits nicely when you are in company and where you wish to let someone know about your background and your job-search activity. Call it an interview in reverse. The other party doesn’t ask for the information, but you give it, and so it must be subtle and what is said, well chosen for its relevance. No pressure!

There are three types of presentation that you need to prepare.

The first is the long one, typically at a formal interview. In this instance, you may be asked to run through your career to date. At that invitation, you should deliver a two-minute account of yourself firstly introducing your qualifications followed by touching on your past career, job titles, responsibilities and achievements. The important words here are ‘touching on’ No detail, no back-slapping. The interviewer will most likely query you on the issues of interest at which point you give all the necessary detail. Remember, in this situation; you have been asked for the information, so give it.

The second kind of presentation is where you attend a second interview or meet with a recruiter. Here you do precisely the same but confine it to one minute. The chances are they already have glanced through your C.V. and know a good bit about you.

The third presentation is when you are meeting with your personal contacts. This requires a style all of its own. Here you meet and ask their advice; not a job. They will be complimented that you went to them for advice and will remember you every bit as well as if you asked them to keep an eye out for a job. That is something people do not like. In this instance, your presentation is 20 seconds.

The reason I say this is if you think hard about it; aside from your partner in life, if asked your friends, close associates and possibly your own Mother, will admit they are not very sure what you do for a living. You talk about everything except your work. When you introduce the fact you are job searching, they may not like to admit that they just don’t know exactly what you do. 20 seconds will help them to understand and put the conversation in context.

When you want to go upstairs, you use an elevator. It’s designed to do the same thing over and over again.

When job searching, use your Personal Presentation which you can and should thoughtfully adapt to suit every occasion.

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