An “elevator pitch” is a 30-second spoken statement about you, in your own voice. It is a well-prepared answer to questions like “Tell me a little bit about yourself,” or “So, what do you do?” It is a way to introduce yourself professionally to potential employers when attending a career fair, a networking event, a professional conference, during an interview, or even in informal, social settings.
You will want to confidently present yourself, in a compelling way that you are positively remembered, so preparation is important.
Components of an Elevator Pitch
Who you are:
My name is <name>. I am a(n) <major/job>, specializing in <key focus area>.
Use your actual identifier (student) or job title or a descriptive term for your occupation/skills. Move from the general to the specific.
“My name is Anita Goncalves. I am a graduating psychology major focusing in neurosciences."
“My name is Jamie Peralta. I am a Research Assistant on a project to improve energy-efficient building materials.”
What you do:
I work with <strength/skill set>
Develop a single sentence that describes what you do so the other person can picture what you mean. Focus on why you are unique, talented, or particularly good at what you are doing. Start by writing sentences that express your best skills and/or strengths, and set you apart from others with your same degree. Provide a concrete example if possible.
“My sales were consistently at the top of our department.”
“My experience speaking to large groups allows me to connect with audiences quickly and explain complex ideas succinctly.”
What contributions are you hoping to make:
Take the other person's perspective. What problem would you like to help the them solve? How do you plan on changing the world? How do your personal goals align with their goals?
“One of my goals is to use my programming background to identify opportunities for innovation.”
“Continuing my research track, I hope to make advances in social justice trends in the Boston-area.”
Tips for Mastering your Elevator Pitch
Select the points that you most want the person you are meeting or interviewer, to know about you. The goal is to present your professional self, in a short, smaller way that is strategically designed to be attractive during an exchange.
The goal of your pitch is to have the person or interviewer remember you, no matter how many people they hear from that day. Don’t be afraid to throw a personal touch in your last sentence. (“When I’m not swing dancing, I love studying about brain science…”)
Your pitch is a great way to start an interview, especially to answer questions like “Tell me about yourself,” “How has UMass prepared you?” or the toughest question: “So… why you?”
Your pitch can also be a table of contents for your conversation, and organizes “who you are,” both for you and for your interviewer. Your interviewer may even stop you part way through your pitch to say “tell me more about this…” at which point you can simply open up and explain the situation in more detail.
Write your pitch out and practice saying it out loud. Adjust it until it sounds and feels right for you. Practice saying it smoothly, using your friends, pet or the mirror. Keep practicing.
Make eye contact. Smile. Fake confidence as needed. Play the role as if you are the natural choice or as if you already work there.
Revise your pitch for each situation. For example, in one interview it will make sense to emphasize your computer programming skills, but in another you will want to emphasize your interpersonal skills. Think strategically.
Contact your UMass Amherst Career Center for an appointment to practice your pitch.
Examples of Elevator Pitches:
“Hi, I’m Ben and an English major. I’ve worked as a freelance writer for lifestyle publication Bustle for the past semester and now I’m looking for an internship in the entertainment, travel, or breaking news space to continue to build my writing skills. I’m proficient in Photoshop and have experience managing social media for my department.”
“I’m Sarah and a senior in UMass’s Isenberg School studying finance. I spent last summer as an analyst for Goldman Sachs, where I focused mainly on comparative financial performance analysis. Now that I’m graduating this May, I’m hoping to find a full-time position as an investment banking analyst.”
“Hello, my name is Maria Gonzalez, and I am a software engineer with a background working with high-growth e-commerce startups in the San Francisco area. However, now I am looking for an opportunity that will bring me closer to my family and friends in Boston. I specialize in iOS and have three years of experience writing C++ code in a POSIX environment.”