Make a Lasting Impression with an Elevator Pitch

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So you’re finally attending that career fair, or maybe you even ran into the perfect networking opportunity out of the blue. How will you dazzle that recruiter or hiring manager? By having an ‘elevator pitch,’ a 30-90 second speech that highlights who you are, your strengths and why you’d be ideal for the job (or internship).

Develop a hook. Try to grab his or her interest right away with an interesting opening line. While it’s essential to give your name and major, try to find an unusual angle. This goes double for events such as career fairs where recruiters are talking to dozens of job seekers over the course of several hours. You’ll want to make the extra effort to be memorable.

Highlight your strengths and passions. After your hook, go on to talk about your skills, experiences and interests. Be sure to back up your claims by providing examples and accomplishments from coursework, jobs, internships, student organization involvement and volunteer work.

Do your research. Be sure to mention a specific fact you looked up about the company or position. This shows how interested you are in working there and that you’re a highly motivated applicant. An example would be mentioning you saw their recently developed company Instagram account and then bring up your experience with social media and photography.

Close with a request. Lastly, end your elevator speech by asking to set up a time to discuss the position further. If a request isn’t appropriate, you can also close by transitioning into a question you have prepared for the recruiter.

Practice, practice, and you guessed it, practice. After you have a draft written down, practice reading it aloud to make sure your speech flows properly when spoken. To build your confidence, practice in front of a mirror so you can see how you look while vocalizing your speech. Next ask family, friends and mentors to let you practice with them and critique your performance.

Be flexible and ready to improvise. No matter how well you may have rehearsed your speech, the conversation may take an unexpected turn. The recipient of your speech may jump in with his or her own questions and comments. So be ready to answer extemporaneous questions while working highlights of your elevator pitch into the conversation.

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