The Elevator Pitch
- An 'elevator pitch' is a 15-30 second proposal that will hook the listener and invite further discussion.
- It is important to keep the pitch succinct yet effective, ideally within the range of 100 to 200 words.
- By putting a personal spin on a pitch, it will seem less rehearsed and thus will be more likely to make an impact.
You're standing in a hotel lobby, scrolling through Twitter on your phone, when you recognize the person standing next to you as the owner of some of the hottest restaurants in town. Coincidentally, you have a background in the food and beverage industry and would love nothing more than to be part of this owner's growing empire. Now's your chance to introduce yourself and wow her with your impressive awesomeness. It's time to roll out your big elevator pitch. You have an elevator pitch, right? Right?
What is an elevator pitch?
An elevator pitch is basically a 15- to 30-second soundbite that explains to people who you are, what you do and what kind of position you're seeking. The idea is that you can deliver your pitch to someone in the amount of time it will take an elevator to get you both where you're going.
Even if you have hirable skills that you could talk about for days, no hiring manager has time for that. That's why elevator pitches are so important. They seem easy enough to master. You just confidently and concisely summarize your skills and experience, right? What could be so difficult?
Elevator pitches are like noses — everyone's got one, and some are longer than others. But what should you say? How will you stand out? How long should it be?
We've collected some of the best advice and examples from folks working in human resources and management to prep you with the right tools for when it's time to craft and deliver your pitch.
Highlight why you're valuable
Human capital is the biggest investment companies make, so they want to get it right every time. Hiring managers will think about the return on investment they'll get from each candidate — that's why getting right to your skills and experience will serve you well.
Sherri Mitchell, co-founder of professional recruitment and hiring firm All About People, headquartered in Phoenix, advocates voicing the skills you have that match the position you're interviewing for.
Here's a perfect example. Mitchell worked with a woman who was making a career transition from marketing to data storytelling, and she helped create her elevator pitch, framing her experience in terms of the skills she acquired rather than the goals she met, which only made sense in her old industry.
It sounded like this:
I'm a savvy storyteller, and I navigate dense data sets with ease. My employers told me early on that I have a penchant for distilling vast amounts of information into usable insights, and I have used this to make strategy changes that led to dramatic improvements in business processes. I am inspired by the discoveries being made at this research hospital, and I am hoping to be able to use my skills to translate these advances into information everyone could understand and use.
The woman's elevator pitch worked for a number of reasons. It called out her top skills, drew from her past work experiences, and explained how she could help the hospital she had applied to work for.
"In less than 30 seconds, the interviewer had a solid understanding of what this woman could offer the hospital," says Mitchell. "It also didn't mention her lack of experience in a position exactly like this one, allowing that to be brought up later and keeping it from being the focus of the interview."
Give supporting examples
One of the best ways to demonstrate your experience is to include within your pitch specific, concrete examples of how you can apply your skills to improve the employer's business. Hannah Wright, a digital marketer at FormAssembly, a SaaS web form solution headquartered in Bloomington, Indiana, agrees.
"If you're in marketing, don't just say one of your biggest skills is content marketing," she says. "Instead, say that you can grow their website's blog traffic, explain how you'd do that, and then tell them about that one time you doubled a company's traffic in a year."
If your pitch is rooted in example and emphasizes what you as the candidate can offer the employer, you're going to appear prepared, driven, and experienced. Research the company you're interviewing for, and write down ideas for how to improve their business as it relates to the position you'd be working in.
Keep it short
Should your pitch be one sentence? One paragraph? A minute long? Less?
Experts say 100 to 200 words is ideal, or four to five sentences. The key is to think about the amount of time you spend in an elevator, which is usually a 15- to 30-second time frame.
"People are busy, and the last thing they want to do is listen to someone ramble on about getting a job or plum assignment," former temp Sally Ross told Monster. "When I decided I wanted to work full-time at the law firm where I was temping, I spent some time figuring out what my bosses cared most about so I could do it quickly and effortlessly."
Candidates should keep their speeches short and to the point and be able to expound upon any details that an employer wants to hear more about.
Add your personal spin
In the end, you just have to be yourself. If you aren't, your counterfeit speech will stink like an old sock. Let your personality come through. Hard-working and personable are not contradictory traits.
Michelle Burke, a marketing manager for Future Insights in Dedham, Massachusetts, a company that produces conferences for designers, developers and entrepreneurs, warns against the dreaded robotic elevator pitch. "Put a personal spin on your pitch," she says, "such as expressing your hobbies and how they relate (or don't) to your work."
Ultimately, knowing how to craft and deliver an elevator speech will serve you well beyond interviews. Imagine this: You're a recent hire, and you're in the elevator by yourself. In steps the CEO — it's just you and her. She asks, "How's the project coming?"
See what I mean?
Elevator pitch examples
Check out the elevator speech that Monster career expert Vicki Salemi prepared: "I'm Vicki Salemi, a career expert for Monster. Author, speaker, career coach, columnist, and former corporate recruiter, always interested in speaking with job seekers to help them find a better job — fast!"
Let your resume follow your pitch
Want to make sure they remember you? Offering your resume is a great follow-up to a solid elevator pitch. For example, after you deliver your pitch, you can say, "I'd love to send you my resume if you're interested." Boom. You're in the door, just like that. However, you have to make sure that your resume delivers on the promise of your pitch. Meaning, it has to be professional, clear, and demonstrate the value you'd bring to a company.
Want to make some extra cash without investing a lot at the outset? Start a side hustle.
Think about what skills you have and how you can do it with low overhead — it's often possible to get started with less than $1,000.
First, "Ask yourself, 'What's my passion?'" says career and life coach Deborah Brown-Volkman. "People want control over their career, and so creating their own business for under $1,000 gives them the ability to test it out, to see what works and what doesn't."
Once you feel you're onto something, purchase some sort of business insurance, advise the experts, which will likely be a big chunk of your costs. Basic business insurance usually ranges from $300 to $700 a month, depending on location and coverage.
Beyond that, to keep costs down, Adolfo LaCola, a serial entrepreneur and star of CNBC's new show "Staten Island Hustle," advises using sweat equity — it's what he and his partners do.
"We keep our start up costs low by actually doing the due diligence and ... all the moves, we do all the work ourselves," he says.
Here are 27 ideas to get you started.
If you have a skill, teach it. The median wage of a tutor is $17.64 per hour, according to PayScale.
2. Dog walker
Love pets and getting some exercise? Dog walking is an easy business to start. Pet business insurance will make up the majority of your expenses, which usually cost $200 to 400 a month, according to onepet business insurance provider. Dog walkers typically make $8 to $20 an hour, with a median wage of $13.23.
3. Professional organizer
If you have a knack for turning clutter into cleanliness, why not try turning that into cash? The median hourly salary for a professional organizer is $25.88.
4. Fashion stylist
A great place to start is by styling a few of your friends for a party, and then encouraging them to tell their friends, say career experts. Soon you could have your own fashion business and be making a median of $16.71an hour to above $40 once as you gain experience.
Multilingual entrepreneurs, this business is for you. Whether you want to take up projects people post online, approach companies or start-ups that do a lot of international business or check local job postings, there are multiple ways to start building your own translation business. Translators make a median income of $19.88 per hour.
If you're a stay-at-home parent with a knack for photography, creating family portraits or photographing events for people in your neighborhood could be the start of a fruitful business. The trick here is that you'll probably need to have a nice camera, a tripod and equipment insurance — the total cost of which will most likely exceed $1,000. If you can get a deal on a good camera at a lower price or already have the equipment, then the start-up costs are low. Freelance photographers make a median of $25.29 per hour.
7. Errand runner
Lots of people don't have the time to run errands daily, and a local errand service business could be a great solution. Errand runners make about $12 per hour.
From video shoots to audio interviews or speeches, there's a lot out there that needs to be transcribed. If you're a good typist with a few extra hours and a computer, you could start your own transcription service. The median hourly wage for transcribers is $15.15.
9. Freelance writer
Companies and content websites need good content, and you want to start your own business. Consider starting your own business as a freelance writer. Freelance writers typically are paid by the post or project, so wages can vary.
10. Jewelry maker
Jewelry makers would most likely make money on sales and projects, as opposed to hourly wages. Platforms for selling homemade goods like Etsy are a benchmark of what you could expect to charge for your products.
11. Avon or Tupperware sales person
Independent sales representatives for companies like Avon or Tupperware don't have to worry about creating a product or inventing a business structure. If you like talking with people, this social business could be for you. Incomes differ based on the company you work for and the amount of sales you make.
12. Makeup artist
If you're a professional makeup artist or hairdresser at a salon, you could earn extra income by setting up your own side business. If you love makeup or hair care but aren't an expert, consider investing in a class or certificate program. Talk with professionals to find what they recommend, experts say. Makeup artists earn a median salary of $17.19per hour, while hairdressers earn a median of $10.15.
13. Virtual assistant
Organized self-starters could find good work being a virtual assistant, a person who does all the things an assistant would normally do, just via the internet and phone. Virtual assistants earn a median salary of $15.18per hour.
14. Personal chef
Roll up your sleeves and break out the spices. A personal culinary business where you are a chef for private parties could be a delicious venture. Personal chefs make a median of $20.82 per hour.
15. Personal shopper
If you love to shop or are interested in fashion retail, starting a personal shopping business could be a great fit. Personal shoppers earn a median of $11.57 an hour.
16. Graphic designer
Graphic design has be frustrating for the non-designer. While there are free design tools out there, many do not offer customization or the insight an expert would. That's where your business could come in. Graphic designers make from around $15 to $28 per hour, which you can factor into project prices.
17. UI/UX designer
This one's a little more obscure to the average entrepreneur than the others. User interface (UI) design and user experience design (UX) make sure your website or app is user friendly, intuitive and visually pleasing among other things. UI designers make an average of $41.63per hour while UX designers make an average of $34.36 per hour.
18. Social media manager
Many small companies or other entrepreneurs can't afford to have a social media manager or marketing team. Starting a social media company where you manage part-time or full-time other people's accounts could be a profitable gig. Social media managers make a median of $14.11 per hour.
"Every industry could have a consultant. In order to be a successful consultant, you need to have some sort of success in that particular field," career expert Jill Jacinto says.
As a consultant, you could help businesses make contacts, form deals and guide their strategic plan. This job has a median salary of $39.55per hour.
20. PR professional
Have experience in a particular field? Recently retired? You likely have a lot of contacts and expertise in a specific industry, which you could leverage for your own venture. PR managers work with the media, government agencies and advertisers. The median hourly rate is $49.
21. Wedding planner
If you love detail and decor and don't mind the stress of dealing with last-minute changes, a wedding planning business could be a great fit. Wedding planners earn a median of $19.89 per hour.
22. Event coordinator
Weddings aren't the only events that need planning. Birthdays, anniversaries, graduation parties are just a few of many events people need help organizing. Event coordinators make a median of $12.77 per hour.
23. Property manager
This job is replacing what used to be known as the butler, experts say. A property manager looks after a household and ensures all property activities run smoothly. The manager would get the mail, do the laundry, stock the fridge, work with other professionals like gardeners and cleaning assistants. It's especially helpful for people who own multiple properties and don't have time to look after them. Property managers could make anywhere from $50,000 to $100,000 per year, according to experts.
While a personal chef usually caters to smaller groups, caterers prepare meals for big events. If you're a great cook who can handle multiple meals cooking at once, you could start your own catering business. Personal caterers make a median of $12.05 per hour.
25. Personal trainer
Insurance is something you'll need at the outset with this business. If you love to work out, look into certifications you could get to become a personal trainer. If you're already certified, even better! Personal trainers make a median of $18 per hour.
If you're a certified accountant, you could start your own practice. Accountants make a median of $18.45 per hour.
27. Copy editor
Business pamphlets, grant proposals and blog posts all need copy editing. Why not take your literacy and grammar skills to the market? Copy editors make an average of $22.09 per hour.
Want more side hustle inspiration? Catch the series premiere of "Staten Island Hustle," Wednesday April 11 at 10 PM ET/PT on CNBC.