As networking and Career Fairs come around closer than we can say, “second floor please,” we beg the question once more: What is an Elevator Pitch??
The name itself implies that it should be similar to an introductory conversation in an elevator. The only problem is… NO ONE talks in elevators. Sometimes in elevators, we are convinced no one even breathes.
So how can this analogy serve as insight into what our first impression should be like?
There is one, and only one, thing we do upon entering an elevator: we push a button. We push our button, and then stand in silence and listen to the music or the rings signaling passing floors. The buttons are the purpose of the elevator, not the conversation.
We need to think of the dreadful “Elevator Pitch” as a way of pushing the right buttons, not the awkward conversation.
So how do we figure which ‘buttons’ to push or how many to push?
Rule #1: Don’t be Buddy the Elf.
Yes, it is tempting to push every button upon entering the elevator. However, as you stand back and smile at your work, you will soon realize you are the only one smiling. In the same way, you don’t want to overload the employers you are talking to. ‘Pushing every button’ is the equivalent of sharing way too much, with ‘pit stops at every floor’ being unnecessary descriptions of every point in your life that lead to the top. DON’T DO IT! It may seem obvious, but it happens more than you think. As much as you may think that employers care about what you did your freshman basketball season in high school, they don’t.
Besides, we already know we probably shouldn’t ‘push too many buttons’ if we want a future with the company…
Rule #2: Don’t forget to push a button.
If you’re not Buddy the Elf, you may be the person that doesn’t push a single button. That is equally bad. Think of standing on an elevator when someone walks in and doesn’t push A SINGLE BUTTON. If we thought not talking was weird, this might be weirder. They would be riding the elevator wherever it was going, and would most likely get off at your floor. Ok, now that’s really weird. In the same way you don’t let people on the elevator decide your destination, don’t rely on the employer you are talking with to lead the conversation. A person not pushing a button on an elevator is as pointless as a person who walks up to an employer and doesn’t say enough to start off, leaving them to fill in the blank spaces. This isn’t Taylor Swift; leave the blank spaces at home.
What TO do: We need a happy medium. Stepping on an elevator, you usually push one button. Think of the employers as people who are on the elevator once you step on, and stay on the duration of the trip. They should be able to walk away saying “that person was on floor 4.” True, we don’t want to be defined by one number or one description. That is not the point. The point is that the employer has a firm grasp of who you are, and is able to describe you to their colleagues in a way that is short but defining.
You need to only push one button, but that button contains more than just your room.
Think about it. You push FLOOR four; you don’t push ROOM 433. In the same way, the ‘button you push’ tells about your ‘journey to room 433.’ You describe who you are, and what brought you to that point, starting when the doors open to floor 4. Your major, your hobbies, what you know to be your strengths and how you apply those in organizations- these are the things you pass on the way to Room 433. If you haven’t realized yet, Room 433 is a job with the company. You want YOUR journey to lead to THAT company. A perfect way to do this is to start with a description of who you are and why you align with the values of the company (aka RESEARCH), and then use that to jump into a question about the opportunities available at that specific company (AGAIN RESEARCH!).
And so, take a deep breath. The “Elevator Pitch” is not the awkward conversation at all. It is figuring out how to push the right button, and what that button says about you. Maybe you’re an odd number, maybe you’re even. We know now that you DO NOT pull a Buddy the Elf and you DO push at least one button. The best part is, the employers are on the elevator for a reason, too. Don’t forget that you may be nervous to push that button and reveal your floor, but they are ultimately there to do the same. Besides, there’s only one elevator.
Did you read this and realize you don’t know how to research a company? Have no fear. We have that answer HERE.