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Career Column with Jennifer Nice: Craft your 30 second elevator pitch
Author: Jennifer Nice, Employment Outreach Specialist
Posted: January 11, 2016

Craft your 30 second elevator pitch

The ability to meet a potential employer with a well-rehearsed and natural elevator pitch will elevate you above other job seekers. It’s paramount to nail your elevator pitch before going to a career fair. So what is an elevator pitch exactly?

An elevator pitch, sometimes called an elevator speech, is a clear, brief message or “commercial” about you. It communicates who you are, what you’re looking for, and how you can benefit an organization. It typically lasts about 30 seconds, the time it takes people to ride from the top to the bottom of an average building in an elevator.

The idea behind the elevator pitch is that you’re prepared to share this information with anyone at any time, even in an elevator.

At a career fair, you can use your elevator pitch to introduce yourself to employers. It’s essential to have your speech memorized and practiced. Rehearse in front of a mirror or a friend. Take a video and review with a critical eye.

The important thing is to practice it out loud. It needs to sound natural and you need to feel comfortable with the verbiage, your tone, and facial expressions. The more natural and comfortable you are with what you have to say, the easier it is to breeze through your elevator pitch with potential employers.

Craft your elevator pitch in three sections:

1. About you

Smile and look them in the eye. Open with a statement or simple question. A sincere “I’m glad to meet you today” works just fine if you can’t come up with something clever. Tell who you are: your full name, your major, year in school, professional goal Tell what you do: student, part-time worker, intern, president of a student club, etc. Show enthusiasm!

2. What do you offer (your U.S.P. - Unique Selling Proposition)

Tell what specific qualification you have – a problem you’ve solved or a contribution you’ve made (refer to a project you’ve been involved in through school, a club, volunteer experience, internship, etc.) Offer a vivid example of your qualification(s) that highlights your work style. What are the advantages of hiring you? (Don’t boast, just confidently state how you stand out from the competition.) Remember, employers are asking themselves “ ‘What’s in it for me?’ if I were to hire this individual?”

3. Call to action

What is your desired response for your elevator pitch? Do you want a business card? (Yes, you do.) The opportunity to give them a resume? Apply for an opening? Be specific: “May I have your business card?” With a business card, you can do all kinds of follow up: send a thank you note, request an informational interview at a later date, connect with them on LinkedIn, etc.


Step 1 – Write down everything that comes to your mind

Step 2 – Ruthlessly edit. Cut out jargon and details. Use short, actionable sentences. Eliminate all unnecessary words.

Step 3 – Connect the phrases to each other. Your elevator pitch has to flow smoothly.

Step 4 – Ask yourself if you’ve answered their question, “What’s in it for me?” If not, go back to step 2 & 3.

Step 5– Memorize key points and rehearse. A lot.

Jennifer Nice is the employment outreach specialist for the School of Business Undergraduate Programs Office. She helps employers connect with qualified business students, interns, and alumni for employment opportunities. Connect with Jennifer,, to learn more about career development and employment outreach at PSU.