The Art of the Elevator Pitch

It truly is a creative art. There’s not only one “correct” statement or way to go about developing an elevator pitch. I’ve heard multiple perspectives over the last several years. However, here are my top 10 strategies for developing and executing your “work of art.”

1. Take a deep breath. Reflect and think critically about yourself as an employable student. Ask yourself: What are the top skills I possess, where do my professional interests lie, and what is unique about me? Most often, this is not easy and you really need to think about it in your favorite quiet spot.

2. Get a notepad and pen and beginning jotting down keywords and notes about your skills, characteristics, and the relevant experiences you want to discuss. Don’t worry about writing out sentences just yet.

3. Though you never know who you could come in contact with, think about places where you might use an elevator pitch and who you could bump into in the near future. Examples could be a Career Fair (and I can’t waste an opportunity to be sure you are aware of the career fair taking place on October 2nd in three on-campus Storrs locations), a dinner at Mom or Dad’s house with family friends who work at a company you are interested in, or perhaps the unexpected opportunity to visit with an employer who is tabling on Fairfield Way. Now you have some context for step 4.

4. Do some research on the industry and/or companies you are trying to break in to. As you read through job postings or company websites, or attend employer information sessions, what are you hearing? What are some common skills that may be most relevant to highlight in your elevator pitch? This is also a great time to look at survey results from “The Candidate Skills/Qualities Employers Want” by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

5. After you done all of this research on employers/ industries and made notes about how you want to market yourself, begin writing how you want to start a conversation. Full name is a good start, but what’s next? You might talk about an internship you’ve just completed or a position you hold within an on-campus organization or club. Maybe it’s a special project you worked on that directly relates to your career goals or a position of interest.

6. Finalize and rehearse your ‘”elevator pitch”. Plan the best way to briefly describe yourself in 30-60 seconds. Avoid the sales pitch approach as well as long, technical descriptions that simply tell the person boring facts. Instead, make the tone friendly and informative.

7. When you have the chance to preview the guest list before attending an event or you have the opportunity to research a possible employer or alumni ahead of time, do it! The more you know, the more you can prepare and adapt your elevator pitch. You can view the full list of employers attending the University Career Fair under the Career Fair section of The CCD website.

8. Keep in mind the importance of body language and voice volume. Be confident, but not arrogant.

9. Be prepared to hand out business cards (if applicable). Keep them with you at all times in an easily accessible place. You never know who you will run into and when.

10. Be brave — most people will appreciate that you’ve taken the initiative to speak to them. Though it may be difficult to approach a potential employer, most are receptive, and at minimum you’ve gained experience practicing your pitch and a tidbit or two of knowledge. If you pass up an opportunity, you’ve gained nothing.

Remember, practice makes perfect!

By Jennifer Grunwald
Jennifer Grunwald Career Consultant, School of Fine Arts