The Daily Illini

Crafting the perfect elevator pitch

By Christina Oehler

The elevator pitch: one of the most crucial parts of knowing how to maneuver in the business world. The elevator pitch is what gives candidates an instant leg up when meeting an employer and is necessary to have a concise way to explain one’s credentials as a worker.

An elevator pitch is a quick but thorough explanation of previous employment history and some of the skills a candidate possesses. Overall, it’s a speech that is short enough to fit in the course of an elevator ride, but thorough enough to make yourself memorable to your potential employer, according to the University of Illinois Business Career Services.

From stepping into the elevator until the moment the elevator dings and the doors open, a candidate should be able to sell their skills as a marketable asset to an employer.

“An elevator pitch gives you the chance to tell someone exactly what you want them to hear, and I think it’s crucial for students seeking jobs to know how to give one,” said Eric Slutsky, sophomore in ACES. “They’re part of knowing how to maneuver any sort of field of work.”

This pitch can often be used at the start of interviews, to give an overall outline of what will be discussed in an interview. This pitch can also be used as a way to begin a cover letter, as a written version of the pitch. Either way, it’s important have a compelling way of explaining one’s skills in the business world.

The University’s Business Career Center suggests asking yourself the following questions about your career to get started: “What is the focus of your search? What skills/experiences can you offer that would benefit the company? What differentiates you from your peers? Why are you interested in the job?”

“I think the most vital parts of an elevator pitch are giving your background, and all of your experiences. Any sort of involvement is valuable to a company, so be sure to let them know some of your most important skills,” said Rachel Raia, who graduated from the University in 2010. Raia majored in economics before moving to Houston to become a healthcare consultant.

The key to a great elevator pitch is to stand out. While irrelevant facts about unrelated experiences are useless in a short pitch, it’s important to emphasize the unique experiences that prove personal business worth.

“In my field, it’s important to prove your worth through your ability to sell yourself. Even though it’s not directly business, knowing how to appeal to an employer is important.” Slutsky said.

If a candidate has traveled to another country to study or work at an internship or has any interesting volunteer work in the field, these may be important aspects of a pitch to make it more memorable for an employer. As employers seek out new workers, they will likely meet dozens of individuals capable for the job. This is something that will set a potential worker apart from others.

With dozens of different personality types in the professional world, there is a necessity to have the ability to read the body language and tone of an employer. Some employers may not appreciate empathy and making light of a conversation, while others may value the ability of a person to connect well with strangers. If possible, some background research on a future employer can help guide the conversation in the most successful means possible, and can give some ideas of what the employers value in their business.

New employers can have great input without trying to solve all of the financial problems of a company. Obviously, if one is seeking a job at a major corporation, no one is expecting a incoming member to have finite solutions to some of the largest problems at the company. However, if a potential worker can provide some general ideas for a solution to a problem, they might stand out significantly more to an employer as a proactive member of a company, rather than someone who simply gives a history of their employment.

“In my fields, healthcare and economics, you’re valuable if you can explain things to people who may not have the same experiences,” said Raia. “You’re going to appeal to your employer if you can provide skills that will help attain the outcome a company is looking for.”

Christina is a sophomore in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]

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