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What Is an Elevator Pitch?

An “elevator pitch” is a term that refers to a short and strong sales pitch.

The idea is that, like being on an elevator ride, time is limited! So, an elevator pitch needs to be quick, with the goal of making the person hearing it grant you their time and attention.

It’s a way of getting a foot in the door for an opportunity.

You don’t have time to say a lot, so you have to focus on your greatest assets or the most convincing case you’ve got to make someone interested in listening to you!

That’s why if you’re applying to a job, experts sometimes refer to an “elevator pitch” as a necessary part of both a resume and cover letter.

Of course, elevator pitches happen in person too!

If you ever get the ear of a hiring manager — maybe when you swing by to drop off your resume — you want to be ready to say the right things in a short window of time!

When to Use an Elevator Pitch

An elevator pitch can have a variety of sales or business applications from advertising and marketing, to networking and our focus here: finding jobs.

In that regard, an elevator pitch is something that you need to include in both your resume and cover letter. Also, be ready to deliver it once you get the ear of an important person in your job hunt!

Elevator pitch on your resume

The part of your resume associated with an elevator pitch is the professional summary or objective statement that lives at the top, right underneath your contact info.

That’s because this section is the first information that an employer sees!

That means that if they’re not impressed by what you’ve written, then you’re not getting the interview.

That’s why you need to use an elevator pitch to get your reader interested in you and keep them reading!

Check out our more detailed guide on How to Write a Professional Summary or How to Write an Objective Statement.

Elevator pitch in your cover letter

In your cover letter, it’s the introduction paragraph that will serve as your elevator pitch.

That’s because if you can hold an employer’s attention, they’ll keep reading — and that means that they’re more interested in hiring you! If they read a poorly written introduction paragraph that doesn’t sell your skills, they’re going to skip to the next candidate.

You need to use a different sales pitch from the one you used in your resume, though!

So focus on different facts, numbers or skills than the ones you mention in the elevator pitch of your resume!

Also, check out our guide on How to Write a Cover Letter to make sure you flow right from your elevator pitch into an example that proves your point!

Prepping a verbal pitch

It never hurts to be prepared! An elevator pitch is delivered when you’re just trying to get your foot in the door or catch someone’s attention for a job!

For example, at a social event where there’s someone you want to network with, or if you suspect that the owner of a business is going to be present when you drop off your resume — then you’ve got to be ready with your verbal elevator pitch.

This is the truest purpose of an elevator pitch: to make a solid first impression when you’re in person and you’ve got just one chance to say the right thing.

So, if you think there’s even the slightest chance that you may encounter a person who might lead you to landing a job, make sure you’ve mentally prepared what you want to say!

Have your sales pitch committed to memory — use flashcards if it helps — so that you can deliver it naturally.

Practice in front of the mirror or with someone close to you! It will help you deliver your message more accurately when you do it on the spot!

Elevator pitch in an interview

In an interview, you probably want to give your elevator pitch right at the beginning.

A typical first question interview like “tell me about yourself,” “what qualifications do you bring to the table” or “what makes you think you’re the right person for this job?” is where you launch into your elevator pitch!

That’s when you want to set a strong idea of what your most significant assets are.The rest of what you say in the interview should back up or prove the claims of your elevator pitch!

The elevator pitch is just the start, though. After that, a long-form explanation of why you think you’re right for the job is necessary.

So, if someone has invited you for an interview, you’ve got to be more extensive than with the elevator pitch; think more about stories or anecdotes that demonstrate why your abilities are valid and verifiable!

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How to Create a Compelling Elevator Pitch

The best way to create a compelling elevator pitch is to look over your most outstanding career achievements, highlights or experiences that would be most useful to the new role.

That’s going to be different for everybody!

What you should include depends on the specific job for which you’re applying.

Here are two main ways you can make an elevator pitch strong and effective:

What Not to Say During Your Elevator Pitch

Keep in mind that when you’re coming up with your elevator pitch, there are a few things that you don’t want to say because they could cost you the job!

Here are some things to avoid:

  • Don’t point to the fact that you’re currently unemployed.
  • Don’t beg, plead or even ask for the job — it will sound desperate.
  • Don’t talk about what you want from the job, discuss what you’ll bring to it.
  • Don’t come off as too confident.
  • Don’t highlight your lack of experience.
  • Don’t embellish your experience or lie about your abilities.
  • Don’t say anything negative about past employers.

Elevator Pitch Examples

A good example has the power to help you understand how to also fashion your own experience in a powerful way.

Keep in mind that we have many well-written examples of professional summaries to help you craft your own “elevator pitch” on your resume.

We also have plenty of cover letter examples. These are great to check out because you can see how other successful examples capture the reader’s attention with an elevator pitch in the introduction paragraph.

Here’s a couple of examples of how different candidates could give an elevator pitch in person that can help them win the job.

Let’s start with an example of how an entry-level job candidate dropping off her resume to a local grocery store could deliver an impactful elevator pitch:

“Here’s a copy of my resume! I think you’ll find that I’m a real go-getter with a warm personality. In school, I have a GPA of 4.2 because I work hard and stay focused, plus I work well in teams and pay great attention to detail. I hope to bring that same dedication to your customers!”

Here’s an example of a mid-career job candidate who reached out to a social connection to network for a job:

“Hey Deb, last time we spoke, you mentioned that your firm is looking for social media strategists for a new initiative. After some thought, I just wanted to let you know: I believe I’m a perfect fit for the role given my past experience running email campaigns for Woodson to boost our brand awareness and clientele base. We saw an 18% increase in sales as a direct result of those campaigns. I believe I could bring a similar user engagement to your company!”

Now, here’s an example of how you could use an elevator pitch to cold call for a job, that is, to get the interest of an employer even if they haven’t formally announced they’re hiring:

“It’s so nice to meet you, Amy. I’m interested in working for your company, but I’m not sure if you’re hiring at the moment. I’m a financial analyst, and I’ve built up quite a reputation for myself in the areas of overhead reduction, financial modeling and performance audits. My work contributed to an 8% increase in profitability for my last employer. I’m ready for a new challenge if you have any opportunities coming up!”