When you're at a career fair, you have minutes, and sometimes even seconds, to make a good impression on recruiters. That's why it's important to have your elevator pitch prepared and ready to go.
According to job search platform Indeed, an elevator pitch is an "effective way to demonstrate your professional aptitude, strengths and skills," which can be used to highlight your cover letter or summary statement on your resume.
Emily Liou, a career happiness coach, says that it's normal for elevator pitches to be a little "nerve wracking," but if you think of it in a less formal way, you may find it easier to come up with the perfect words to say.
"When I was in college, people would tell me, 'you need a 30-second elevator pitch.' And I would literally sit down, rehearse it and time it, and there was a lot of stress," Liou tells CNBC Make It. "But if you could just think of it as an introduction, like, 'what do you want this other person to know about you?,' that would be so helpful."
Here are some of Liou's hacks to tackling your elevator pitch:
Make it about them
There's nothing a person can talk about more than themselves. By tailoring your elevator pitch around the recruiter, you make yourself stand out, as candidates usually talk about themselves and their own accomplishments.
According to Liou, instead of jumping into the pitch saying, "Hey, I graduated and I'm looking for a job," candidates should start by greeting the recruiter first, saying something you like about the company or their role within the company, and tying that to a relevant scenario in your own life.
Liou says this approach has a "different" tone, and shows you're looking to see what you can do for the company, not what it can do for you.
By doing adequate research on the businesses that will be at the career fair beforehand, you can find aspects about the company and the recruiter that you resonate with on a more personal level.
Though you only have a short amount of time, it's important to make a recruiter feel like they can trust that you'll get the job done. This trust is made by having an organic conversation and showing interest in forming a relationship, according to Liou.
"The best way to form that relationship is not so much going into it in a calculated way, like what can this person do for me? Or what do I have to offer to this person? If you lean in with genuine curiosity and share what's really on your mind and what you're really thinking, that's the best way to start the conversation."
"Those are the ones that could blossom into job or networking opportunities because people want to help others that they like and can trust. Having that trust factor is really important to have another person advocate and vouch for you."
Who, What, Why and How
Though you want to tailor your elevator pitch to the recruiter you're speaking with, it's important to also touch on key points about yourself that show why you'd be a good candidate for the role.
Liou says answering these questions will help you stay on track:
- Who are you? Who do you want to serve?
- What skills do you bring to the forefront? What do you do?
- Why do you want to work at this company?
- How many years of experience do you have? How do you meet your professional goals?
This is a great opportunity to talk numbers and speak to your own strengths, while still tying them into the company's mission and culture.
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