Frequently Asked Questions About Crafting an Elevator Pitch
An elevator pitch is basically a face-to-face version of a cover letter. With both, it’s key to tailor your pitch to reflect your attributes and what you can do with them (for example, you could weave in something about your security clearance if it is relevant). But since an elevator pitch is delivered in person, keep the presentation loose, while maintaining strong eye contact and a smile. Of course, you should rehearse it, but don’t recite it or you will sound stilted. The goal is to sound less like a recitation, and more like a conversation.
Should I state that I’m retired?
No. Better to say that you transitioned after a fantastic 20-year career. Fair or not, there are people who will attach certain connotations or perceptions to the word “retired,” (i.e.: he’s an old guy, probably set in his ways and not adaptable). Keep it high-energy and positive.
If a recruiter is not part of the military world, he or she may not know that term, and think you are telling them you’re in the middle of a divorce instead. Better to focus on the length and scope of your military career.
I’m unemployed and it’s been eight years since I served.
An elevator pitch is meant to capture attention. In this scenario, focus on getting them to ask you more questions to spark a deeper conversation and give you time to explain what you did in the military. This could be a time to play up your soft skills. Don’t focus on the time frame – focus on what is still relevant.
Do I mention that I’m a reservist, or medically retired in my pitch?
No. Again, your intention is to capture attention. Whether fair or not, the word “reservist,” if given too early, may unfairly dredge up pre-conceived notions. Get them to like you first with your warm smile, solid eye contact and pleasant demeanor. You’re not being deceptive if you address it later.
Same with medically retired.
It’s all about knowing your audience. If you can’t lift more than 20 pounds, then obviously avoid going for jobs that require it. However, the same company may also need a customer service manager. This is a key opportunity to know what positions a company is hiring for, and what requirements applicants must meet.
How do you craft a pitch for an unrelated job?
Start by researching the company and the position you want. This pitch will be all about soft skills and a cultural fit. There is a movement in human resources circles that culture and cultural fit are what should be the driving factor in determining if a candidate is right for an organization. Gear the pitch toward your relevant soft skills than training. Obviously, if you’re applying for a welder position, you’re going to need to know how to weld.
It’s important to critically examine what you said following any interactions with recruiters. You may find yourself thinking, “I can’t believe I said that. That’s not the way to say that.” Recognize it, learn from it, and move on.