Imagine that you’ve just entered an elevator and lo and behold, the CEO of Ernst & Young is right in there with you. You have about 30-60 seconds to make a good impression before he reaches his appointment on the 7th floor. Go.
This can be intimidating—especially if you want to make a great first impression and have him remember you after your interaction. Which is why you need to make sure that you have your elevator pitch down to the T.
If you’re not familiar with what an elevator pitch is, it’s a short 30-60 second speech that describes your professional endeavors with precision and persuasiveness. Whether that’s during networking events, Meet the Firms, interviews, or at a Starbucks, elevator pitches allow you to brand yourself in a quick, straight-to-the point manner that will persuade someone to want to work with you.
So here are our top 6 tips you can follow to craft a great elevator pitch that recruiters from firms are looking for. Follow these tips and your next potential employer will remember you despite your brief interaction.
1. Identify what kind of opportunity you’re looking for
Whether you’re looking for a job, internship, or simply want to grow your network, the first step of a great elevator pitch is identifying who you’re making the pitch for and what they can offer you. This means that you’ll probably have more than one elevator pitch or multiple variations of one.
2. Research the qualifications and skills needed for the opportunity
Just like anything, research is key. Take a look at the position you’re looking to fulfill. What are the qualifications and skills that you need to make this happen? You can easily do this by logging into job search sites, typing in the job title, and looking at the job descriptions that appear in the listings.
In addition, research the opportunity’s potential for growth. Where do people with this position come from or go afterward? Is there room for upward mobility? Can you change the title to include some of your extra expertise? Also, think of potential for growth not just as a way to get ahead for yourself, but also ways that you can help the company expand or improve. Look at its current standings and/or projects and see if there are initiatives you can implement to fill a need or create one.
3. Map your qualifications and skills to the opportunity
Next, take the list of the qualifications and skills for the opportunity and see what transferrable skills you can map onto them. Highlight your professional or academic accomplishments, being specific with numbers and statistics when applicable. This is where the field and type of position you’re pursuing really come together to show that you’d be a perfect candidate for the role.
4. Format your elevator pitch
So. You’ve identified the opportunity, gathered the qualifications and skills necessary to pursue that opportunity, and have mapped out your own transferrable skills to make it apparent that you’re eligible to fulfill the role. What’s next?
Formatting your elevator pitch and writing it down. Here’s a formula you can follow that will cover all your bases.
Who are you?
Keep this part short and sweet. You obviously don’t want to share your life story, but it’ll be nice to give them a quick overview of who you are and where you’re from:
Example: Hi, I’m Kaitlyn Tang. I grew up in Orange County but moved up here to the Bay Area about 3 years ago.
What do you do?
This is the meat of your elevator pitch. This will give the person you’re talking to an opportunity to learn about what you do, why you’re good at it, how it relates to the qualifications/skills they’re looking for, and how it positively impacts the world around you. Big words, we know, but this is the part that shows them what you're capable of. A good sub-formula to follow would be the amount of experience you have, what you do, and an example of how you have positively impacted those around you:
Example: I recently graduated from San Jose State University with a bachelor’s degree in Accounting. Last winter, I was a tax associate intern for Moss Adams where I assisted with over 200 tax filings for the 2017 Busy Season. It was a great learning experience. I enjoyed speaking with clients and working with new accounting software, which I helped train my team to implement and use. It was here that I truly found my passion for the tax sector in public accounting.
What are you looking for?
This is the area where you mention what you’re looking for in the position you’re pursuing, such as what you hope to gain, achieve, and/or explore during this time in your career and how this position will help get you there:
Example: I’m ready to take the next step in my career by taking the CPA Exam this summer becoming licensed in the fall. I’m looking for a full-time tax associate position where I can help small-to-medium sized businesses really thrive. I understand that your firm specializes in this area and I believe that my technical fluency and passion for accounting align with your firm’s mission and values.
The best thing you can do for yourself to make sure that your pitch sounds as coherent and natural as possible is to practice, practice, practice. Read it aloud and take note of the areas that may sound too formal, awkward, or may just be too much of a run-on sentence. Remember, the way we write things is completely different than the way we speak, so replace words and phrases with others that sound more organic--the way they would during an impromptu conversation with your colleagues.
In addition, make sure your elevator pitch isn’t too long. Keep it to 1 minute maximum. You don’t want to bore the person you’re speaking with and you also don’t want to overwhelm them.
6. Make a few variations of the same pitch
As we mentioned earlier, you won’t come across the exact same opportunity twice. Therefore, make sure you create a few different versions of the same elevator pitch so that it pertains more closely to the opportunities you're pursuing.
For example, if you’re speaking to someone at a smaller company, firm, or not-for-profit, you obviously want to pinpoint how something specific in their organization aligns with what you have to offer. Or, if you’re aware that they value one type of qualification or skill over another, focus on an accomplishment that highlights that.
So, the next time you’re at a networking event, interview, or actually find yourself in an elevator with someone you’d like an opportunity with, follow these steps to leave a great impression of who you are, what you do, and why you’d be great to work with.
Happy elevator pitching!
Beta Alpha Psi provides accounting, finance and MIS students an avenue to connect with their peers and established professionals early in their career. Participation in BAP allows students to learn first-hand that no matter what professional path they choose, there’s a CPA for that. A career in the accounting profession offers unparalleled opportunity to work throughout the world, in any industry. The AICPA supports students along their journey to CPA by providing resources each step of the way.