How-to Create a Compelling, Branded Elevator Pitch for Your Job Search

The elevator pitch. You are probably familiar with the term. It is most commonly used to describe the concise 60-second speech that business owners and executives, as well as salespeople, use to describe their business, product, or service to others. More importantly, it is a speech that is delivered in a compelling way that describes what is unique about the business (or offering), describes the benefits to the target market, and excites interest in the listener.

So, why should you–the job seeker and career professional–care about the elevator pitch? If you are familiar with the concept of personal branding, and the idea of leveraging your brand to advance and promote yourself in your career, I’m sure you immediately recognized similarities between the above description of an elevator pitch and a personal brand statement.

Personal branding allows you to make a name for yourself. It differentiates you from your peers and helps to position you as a leader in your field – as a specialist and an authority who knows how to do a job and fill a particular niche in the workplace better than anyone else. A personal brand statement is a succinct statement that clarifies and communicates what makes you and your unique value proposition different and special.

Your personal brand statement will play a large role in your 60-second elevator pitch as a job seeker and career professional. Your entire elevator pitch will be a mini presentation that you are able to give on the fly in response to those all-too-common questions “what do you do?” or “tell me about yourself?” With precision-like focus, an effective elevator pitch will immediately convey to the listener who you are as a professional, and will do it in a way that addresses not only your unique value proposition, but in a manner that addresses the concerns of your listener. Of equal importance, while your pitch is planned and rehearsed, when you actually speak it, it should sound completely natural and spontaneous, yet it should leave the listener with a lasting, positive, and memorable impression. You will use your elevator pitch frequently, in networking situations and during interviews.

But, once you recognize that crafting an elevator pitch is essential, you might feel daunted at the prospect of creating and perfecting one. Certainly, this is a task that your career coach or the professional that you hired to create your résumé can assist with. However, with some introspection and honest self-assessment, developing your elevator pitch does not have to be difficult. To get started, ask yourself these essential questions:

1. What is the focus of your search? What is your job target?

2. Who is the person/people most likely to make a hiring decision about you?

3. What are the problems faced by your target audience?

4. What is it that you are offering that would solve these problems?

5. What is it that differentiates you and makes you different from your peers?

6. What are the benefits of your work as experienced by your target audience?

To create your elevator pitch, you now must put these elements all together in a brief presentation that you can deliver quickly-in the time it would take you to get from one floor to the other in an elevator.

As an example, here is my own “branded” elevator pitch that I developed to concisely describe my work as the executive director of Distinctive Career Services.

“You know how some career professionals miss out on really great employment opportunities, or don’t advance as quickly in their careers as they would like, or don’t get paid the compensation they deserve, all because they don’t really know how to differentiate themselves in their careers or promote themselves effectively in the job market?

Well, I am a career coach, personal branding strategist, and career marketing professional-one of just a few people worldwide with this unique blend of expertise. In my business, which is internet-based and global, I provide a mix of innovative products, programs, and services delivered to six-figure+ and aspiring six-figure+ professionals, managers, and executives. All my offerings are designed specifically to empower my clients to promote and market themselves effectively, opening doors and enabling potential to achieve their highest career ambitions and goals.

The benefits are that my clients dramatically reduce the time and money they spend job searching, rapidly advance their careers, boost their incomes, enjoy greater professional recognition, and overall, establish themselves in careers that are more professionally, financially, and personally rewarding.”

Once you have the answers to the six simple questions above, you have everything you need to create a similar elevator pitch for yourself. Do you see how I have taken my own answers to the questions and interspersed them throughout my pitch? I’ve clearly communicated who my target market is, have identified the problems and challenges that they face, have conveyed how my offering is not only unique but solves those problems, and I’ve described the key benefits that my offerings produce.

You can use this same model to develop your own elevator pitch. But remember; don’t go into too much detail. Your goal is simply to pique interest and make yourself memorable. Don’t spend too much time on the details of your qualifications. Just quickly highlight them and tie them back to how they benefit your target audience (current or future employer).

Once you have your pitch perfected, practice it, practice it, and practice it some more. Your goal is to have it sound completely natural. Rehearse in front of a mirror and be aware of your body language and eye contact, as these aspects of communication often speak even louder than words. Now, try your pitch out a few times and observe the response to the listener. Be open to the prospect of adapting and modifying as necessary to elicit the response you want to generate. And, of course, be flexible. If your listener interrupts with a question, be ready to pause and answer it.

Creating your elevator pitch may take some time and thought, but it is a wise career professional who invests in it! You will hear the “what do you do?” or “tell me about yourself?” questions over and over, both during your job search and throughout your entire career. Don’t wing it! Preparation is the key to confidence and the key to making a lasting, positive, and memorable first impression. The benefits to your career will be phenomenal. It is well worth the effort!

LinkedIn Has A New Job Search App

I hope you have a presence on LinkedIn, because it’s one of the biggest sources of professional networking available right now. They’ve just added to their worth by introducing the new LinkedIn job search app for iPhone. According to LinkedIn’s research, forty percent of their members are looking for jobs on the site using a mobile device. If you are not one of those people, I’m here to encourage and guide you to do so sooner than later!

Why Make An App For That?

The faster you apply to an opening, the more apt you are to be considered for the job. This makes immediate action very important but a bit tricky if you are trying to keep your job search private. This app addresses that issue by acting independently of your network – everything you do with the app is discreet.

You can customize and streamline your search using advanced search filters like location, industry, company, job title, or seniority level. The app will also make suggestions based on your LinkedIn profile, saved searches, and jobs you have looked at. These characteristics are both unique and priceless when job searching, which could really help you narrow your search to relevant job prospects.

You can whip out your phone and check the latest results while your coffee cools and research a possibility right there, looking at the company’s profile and seeing if you know anyone who works there. You can apply and on your next break see if a recruiter viewed your application. The app even reminds you about job openings due to expire, too. So, now your down time can be spent more productively and you can stop procrastinating on other social media sites!

The Thing You Need To Do First

This app is pretty nice for expanding the usefulness of being on LinkedIn, but you have to be part of the network first. If you aren’t, or haven’t done much to your profile because you don’t have time, it isn’t going to be very helpful. I highly encourage you to make time and focus your effort on refining your LinkedIn profile.

Our LinkedIn Profile Development service can get you up and active in the most-used social network for professionals. Then you’ll see why so many of your professional peers are relying on this site for connections. Once you have a profile on the site, you can explore the potential and see why it is so popular.

Identity Theft and Your Online Job Search

While identity theft is nothing new, the Web has opened up whole new world of opportunity for identity thieves.

According to the FBI, identity theft is the top online fraud. The U.S. Federal Trade Commission says that identity theft is it’s number one source of consumer complaints – 42 percent of all complaints, in 2001.

The thief will use your personal information to open credit card accounts, cell phone accounts, open bank accounts in your name and write bad checks-leaving the victim with the bills and ruined credit ratings. Identity thieves may pose as representatives of banks, Internet service providers and even government agencies to get you to reveal your Social Security number, mother’s maiden name, financial account numbers and identifying information.

In a recent article (http://www.msnbc.com/news/830411.asp), MSNBC reported the case of a man who fell victim to a fraudulent job listing that was posted at Monster.com. According to the article:

“It was just the job lead Jim needed: a marketing manager position with Arthur Gallagher, a leading international insurance broker. And only days after Jim responded to the job posting on Monster.com, a human resources director sent along a promising e-mail. We’re interested in you, the note said. The salary is negotiable, the clients big. In fact, the clients are so valuable and sensitive that you’ll have to submit to a background check as part of the interview process. Eager for work, Jim complied- and sent off just about every key to his digital identity, including his age, height, weight, Social Security number, bank account numbers, even his mother’s maiden name.”

Jim spent the day canceling his credit cards, checking his balances and contacting the credit bureaus, but he’s concerned that his information is now “out there”.

There are warning signs that can tip you off to fraudulent job listings. While these items don’t necessarily mean that the listing is a scam, they are indications that you should do further checking.

–Incorrect grammar and spelling errors

–Phone or fax number area codes don’t match the address given

–Unrealistic salary

Online job databases are not the only places that identity thieves cruise for personal information. In recent indictments across the U.S., individuals have been charged with obtaining and using personal information through various ways. In Miami, two individuals were indicted for illegally tapping the computer networks of restaurants using the cover of a dummy corporation. A clerical worker at the New York State Insurance Fund pilfered office files and used stolen identities (of people across the country as well as fellow office workers) to obtain goods and services. A phlebotomist at Kaiser Permanente admitted to using the personal information of patients and employees in order to open credit card accounts in various names.

Recently, an FTC investigation into a work-at-home scheme spawned an incredible “scam-within-a-scam” when a man pretending to be an FTC employee emailed hundreds of the scam’s victims. He requested personal information stating that it was to be used as evidence in the case.

While it’s impossible to completely eliminate the chances of becoming a victim, you can minimize the risk by putting the following to practice:

–If a would-be employer asks you for any personal information you should ask them for their contact information and then separately look up the company’s information and contact them to verify that they actually exist. While it’s not unusual for an employer to ask for certain work-related information (like your work history and former employers), it is not appropriate for them to ask for personal information (like a social security number) unless you are actually being hired (and you’ve checked them out to make sure they’re legitimate). Even then, you should never be asked for financial information such as a credit card number.

–On online resumes, never include your social security number and keep even your work history brief.

–Check your credit card statements often. Believe it or not, many people never even check them!

–Be sure to follow up with creditors if your bill doesn’t arrive on time. A missing credit card bill may mean that an identity thief has changed your billing address to cover their tracks.

–Order your credit report from one of the major credit bureaus each year and verify that everything is correct.

What to do if you’ve been a victim of identity theft:

The FTC maintains Consumer Sentinels Identity Theft Data Clearinghouse, the nations repository for identity theft complaints. The FTC established the Identity Theft Toll-Free Hotline, 1.877.IDTHEFT (1.877.438.4338) and the ID Theft Website (www.consumer.gov/idtheft) to give identity theft victims a central place to report their problems and receive helpful information.

The Internet Fraud Complaint Center (IFCC) is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C). You can use their online system to file a complaint.

[http://www1.ifccfbi.gov/index.asp]