Have you ever been put on the spot and had to introduce yourself in a professional setting?
If so, you probably know how hard it can feel to sum up your background and expertise in just a few sentences. That’s where an elevator pitch comes in.
Your elevator pitch tells people in a brief moment who you are, what sets you apart, and where you want to be.
Having an elevator pitch is important, even if you're not actively searching for a job. Being clear about your strengths and goals is helpful – not just for you, but so others can quickly understand if you’re a good fit for an opportunity.
“A strong elevator pitch is important when you are trying to sell yourself to a potential employer, recruiter, client, customer or another contact and when you only have a very short amount of time to make an impact,” says career and interview coach Leah Lambart from Relaunch Me.
“The elevator pitch is particularly important for job seekers, business owners and career changers where they need to sell their story and gain credibility quickly.”
What makes a good elevator pitch, and why do I need one?
It can help to think of your elevator pitch as an “advertisement” about you, says Lambart. That means it needs to be clear and brief, and it needs to sell what’s best about you.
“It communicates who you are, what you’re looking for and what you can offer a company or organisation. This is also often called your ‘USP’ or ‘unique selling proposition’,” she says.
An elevator pitch should be about 30 seconds long – the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of a building in an elevator, hence its name. That means no rambling, and no unnecessary information – just hit the most important details.
But your elevator pitch isn’t just for delivering to captive audiences in lifts.
“The idea behind having an elevator speech is that you are prepared to share this information with anyone, at any time,” says Lambart.
“You can use your elevator pitch in many different scenarios, both in your professional and personal life. For example, at a career fair or a networking event, you can use your speech to introduce yourself to prospective employers and give them your story in a snapshot. In your personal life you might run into a potential contact in the least expected location, such as on a tram ride or even at the dog park if you happen to meet someone that could be a useful connection.”
An elevator pitch isn’t just useful when it’s spoken. The words you come up with can also be used in your resumé, online profiles, or adapted for use in job applications.
Examples of good elevator pitches
No matter what industry you’re in, or how experienced you are, your elevator pitch should have the same four elements:
- Who you are
- What you do
- Your unique selling proposition
- Where you want to go.
Let’s take a look at some industry-specific examples:
I'm an experienced physiotherapist specialising in helping people regain their mobility after injury, and to avoid further injury. I have 10 years of experience in treating professional and amateur sports people, and most recently have been working in a small inner-city practice.
I'm looking for a new opportunity to develop my skills and expertise in this area, with my goal being to join the healthcare team of a professional sports team. What makes me good at what I do is that I take the time to listen to my clients, and treat the whole person, rather than just the injury. I think I’d make a great asset to a sports team that needs a professional and caring physio that can travel with them and invest time in not only treating injuries but preventing them.
I'm a web developer with five years of hands-on experience with a boutique tech agency. My expertise lies in crafting exceptional online experiences and innovative solutions for complex problems.
What sets me apart is not just my proficiency, but also my drive to create user-centric, efficient, and visually appealing websites. I'm on the lookout for an opportunity to bring my creative problem-solving skills to a larger firm with a strong focus on further skills development, an inclusive culture, and management opportunities.
I’ve been working in the financial services industry for 20 years, providing clients with personalised advice since 2012. I have always been passionate about financial education and the way it can empower people to make choices in their lives and achieve their personal goals.
My greatest strength is my ability to develop long-term relationships with clients as I nurture them on their financial journey and see them reaching goals that they would never have thought possible. I would like to bring this experience to a socially responsible organisation that values the long-term journey we can bring our clients on.
I’ve been a dedicated primary school teacher in the state system for the past twelve years. I see teaching as a great privilege, and I never get tired of watching children learn and grow in their confidence to reach their full potential.
I’m seeking a new opportunity to join a school where I can contribute to curriculum development and take on a leadership role, and share my knowledge with a new generation of teachers. My unwavering enthusiasm for teaching, coupled with genuine care for my students and colleagues, is something I think would be of great value to early career teachers.
I’m a retail assistant with two years of experience working in costume jewellery and accessories. I’ve always had a passion for fashion and jewellery, but working in this role has made me realise I’d like to pursue a career in fashion retail management.
My first goal is to secure a full-time fashion retail role where I can learn the ropes and hone my skills in how to run a successful retail store. I’m also enrolled in a part-time retail management course online, which I know will help me develop my skills even further and make me a more valuable employee. I take pride in my customer service skills and creative visual merchandising, and I know I’d be an asset to any retail fashion team.
I'm a third-year hairdressing apprentice specialising in colour – and I’m especially passionate about creating theatrical looks and transformations using colour. I’ve been working with a salon chain for the past two years which has given me solid experience in natural colouring and retail, but I’m keen to level up my skills and experience with an award-winning salon focused on creativity.
I want to learn from the best and challenge myself to achieve great looks for my clients, and also get involved in photo shoots and professional styling. My creative eye and continual researching of latest techniques and looks keeps me up to date with my skills and knowledge. I’d love the chance to bring my passion for fresh colour looks to a well-established salon.
While the six examples above cover a variety of ambition and experience, you can see that the principles are the same. Each pitch is short and to the point, sells the person’s strengths, and clearly states what they’re looking for.
And if you’re delivering your elevator pitch verbally, Lambart has one last piece of advice: memorise and practise!
“It is important to have your speech memorised and practised but to ensure that it still sounds natural,” she says. “You don’t want to sound too scripted or like a robot.
“I recommend rehearsing your 30-second elevator speech with a friend or in front of a mirror. The important thing is to practice it OUT LOUD. You want it to sound natural. Get comfortable with what you have to say so you can breeze through it when the time comes.”