What’s a Professional pitch? It’s your carefully crafted answer to: “So, tell me about yourself.” It sums up your awesomeness in a nutshell.
It has also been called the “elevator pitch.” Imagine you’re fortunate enough to step into an elevator with the one person who has the power to change your life, hire you for the job of your dreams, publish the Great American Novel you just wrote, or otherwise give you your big break. That elevator ride is your one chance to convince that person you’re the answer to his or her prayers, and you need to do it in the time it takes to get to the ground floor.
In an interview, your professional pitch sets the tone. If done well it can elevate the conversation and make a great impression. In an informational meeting, you can use it to set the tone for the conversation and refresh the person’s memory of your abilities and background. It’s also a great tool for networking. You can use your pitch in any scenario where someone asks: “Tell me about yourself.”
Crafting your pitch is key. It’s vital to have your pitch polished and ready so it trips off your tongue when you need it. If you don’t spend time crafting your pitch beforehand, you’ll step into your opportunity and may well stumble your way right out of it.
That’s the importance of your professional pitch. If your pitch is wrong, everything is wrong. But crafted correctly, your professional pitch becomes the foundation of your job search. You’ll use it in job and networking interviews, and in your cover letters, too.
Where do you start?
You’re convinced of the importance of crafting your professional pitch. Great! Where do you start? Look no further than your resume and summary statement. That’s your jumping-off point. (If your summary statement isn’t polished, it’s time to do that, too.)
Like your resume, your professional pitch can and should be crafted with your target audience in mind.
Questions to consider:
- To whom are you pitching? Do your homework, not just about the job you’re applying for, but about the interviewer, too.
- What are they looking for? The key is highlighting your experience and skills based on their needs, not based on what you want them to know.
- Who are your likely competitors?
- What do you bring to the party that your competitors do not? Examine your background to find things that fit.
Those questions answered, it’s time to get down to it.
Once you master your basic pitch, tailor your response to the situation depending on the job, its requirements, and what your interviewer may need to know about you.
What should you include?
The elements of a killer pitch include:
- Positioning statement. This is an audience-focused message for the position or industry you’re targeting.
- Branding statement. Something that lights you up and is memorable.
- Differentiation. Here’s where you catch their attention, answering the question: Why you?
- Accomplishments and results. Two or three brief sentences that highlight your winning performance. I did this, it resulted in that.
- Call to action. This is your wrap-up. It’s a sentence or two about next steps.
Let’s go into each of those elements in more detail, with examples of exactly how each might look in practice.
Elements of your killer pitch
Let’s do a deep dive into what each element of your pitch should include.
Positioning statement (summary)
This is your opener. Your opening paragraph should be specific to the company and create context for the outreach.
- What is the most important thing you want this target to know about you?
- What else do you want this target to know about you? This supports and broadens your introductory statement.
- Why are you there?
I have been following Apex Chemicals for some time and admire your emphasis on tight controls. I, too, focus on the close monitoring of business units and would like to work in a place like yours. Let me tell you a little bit about my background…
A branding statement is something that lights you up and is memorable. Think about a passion you have.
I can make PCs dance! (IT Hardware Administrator)
I can catalyze anything! (Research Chemist)
My personal “killer app” is an eye for the best talent, and the ability to create best-in-class teams. (Technology Executive)
While you can have a pitch without this statement, if done right it can really make you stand out. Ask yourself what makes you great, what gets you excited about what you do, why you’re special. Use imagery (e.g., PCs dancing).
I am passionate about engaging with people and cultures across the globe to grow business and deliver high levels of client satisfaction.
Include your position, level, and industry.
- What differentiates you from the competition?
- What do you bring to the party?
- Why you?
I am a communications executive with 10 years of international experience in Europe, Latin America, South Africa, the Far East, Eastern Europe, and Russia…
Once you have established who you are, now you move on to an example or two of what you’ve done and the results you’ve achieved. Including the results of your actions is key. It answers the unspoken question: So what?
- Be enthusiastic and be yourself.
- Choose accomplishments you are proud of and can speak to easily and that are related to your industry or function.
- Using their job description as a guide, find accomplishments and results that fit what they’re looking for.
You may be interested in some of the specific things I’ve done: I’ve reduced expenses in four units, saving the company over $200,000. I am known within the organization as someone who can tackle complex problems and work across borders…
Call to action
You turn it back to them with an explanation of why you are there. If you have something to ask of them, this is the time to ask. The goal is to focus on moving the conversation forward.
I am excited to talk with you today because…
GetFive tips for a killer pitch
Keep them wanting more. Give enough information but not too much. Leave them wanting to know more. You might even want to say: “I’m happy to expand on anything I’ve mentioned or provide more examples…”
Add filler words and phrases so it sounds conversational, not rehearsed. “Here are a couple of examples…” “And my colleagues would say that I…”
Make it engaging. Use imagery and detail. “Led global teams” is less effective than “Led global teams across Europe, Asia, Latin America, and the U.S.”
Practice, practice, practice! When you have a solid draft, practice it until it naturally rolls off your tongue. Here are some killer tips:
- Record it into your phone and listen to it. Is it interesting? Conversational? Energetic? Tweak it and then keep practicing until you get the words right.
- Video record yourself saying it. How do you look?
- Pay attention to your energy. If you aren’t interested in what you are saying, how do you expect others to be? That’s why finding a great branding or passion statement to start with helps — it connects you in a positive way to your work.
Stage a dress rehearsal. Try it out on trusted friends and ask for feedback. Getting constructive feedback on your pitch is vital. You want to get specific and targeted feedback, not just a “yeah, that sounds good.” The best way to do that is to ask the listener some questions after they hear your pitch.
How to frame the request:
“As part of my job search, I have developed a professional pitch that provides a concise and targeted response to the question…tell me about yourself. I need feedback on it and would appreciate it you could listen to the pitch and then answer some questions about how I did. Put yourself in the mindset of someone that is meeting me for the first time in an interview (either on the phone or in person) or a networking opportunity.”
Common mistakes to avoid. What should you watch for and stay away from in your pitch?
- Too much detail. Droning on and on is boring. The last thing you want to do is bore your target.
- Too little detail. Also boring, and not effective. Find the balance between enough and too much.
- Not targeted. Your pitch is not chiseled onto stone tablets. You can target it to your audience and to the specific job you’re going after.
- Jargon. Don’t use acronyms or industry jargon. Not only is jargon off-putting to many people, it’s possible that your target won’t understand what you mean. Instant disconnect.
- You sound robotic. Keep practicing to avoid that.
Examples of killer pitches
Chief Marketing Officer
As a branding and marketing executive, I know how to connect with a customer’s emotions, and that ability has resulted in a 15-year track record of turning brands around and driving revenue growth. In my career, I’ve done it all, including integrated marketing, advertising, public relations, and brand redesign. I’ve managed teams across 25 markets. I’ve worked with brands including Kraft, Pepsi, and Mars. Why don’t I share with you a couple of examples? At Kraft, I managed marketing groups across North America, Europe, and Latin America, driving 33% increased global revenue year-over-year. I’m excited to be talking with you because…
Sr. Hardware Technician
I have 18 years of experience working with computers as a hardware technician. I have built PCs from scratch and have my A+ Certification. I also have worked with networking and application development and manage my own network at home. I can do anything, anything that needs to be done with PCs. I can make PCs dance. And I am very excited about talking to you today because I know how much your business relies on having your computer hardware up and running. Maybe you can tell me more about that…
Director of Sales
I am a travel and hospitality sales director with over 20 years of experience connecting people to a life of adventure. I have extensive knowledge of domestic and international destinations garnered from conducting site inspections on hundreds of properties, world heritage sites, and points of interest. Throughout my career, I have exceeded sales goals, increased revenue, and turned low-performing territories into revenue leaders. I have done this through my commitment to building relationships, delivering high-touch customer service and love of travel. Once we work together, you will have me on speed dial for life.
Using your pitch
Here are some of the different ways you can use your killer pitch to help advance your career.
Your summary statement in your resume is the starting point for you pitch. So, make sure your pitch and statement are aligned for each opportunity. If you are tailoring your pitch for an interview or opportunity, tailor your summary statement as well.
Your pitch is a critical part of your networking meeting. Make sure you tailor your pitch accordingly. After introductions and pleasantries, tell the contact why you are there, such as, “Jane suggested I contact you because she thought you would be a good person for me to know and that you might be able to open a few doors for me. I’m interested in moving into the sports marketing field.”
At that point, your target may say: “I am happy to help if I can. Are there specific questions you have?”
Rather than ask questions say, “I do have questions, but first I’d like to tell you a little about myself.” And then give your Professional Pitch. Think about you will transition from your pitch to the questions you have about this new field and the role you are pursuing.
As we’ve outlined, your pitch is your practiced, polished answer to: “So Jane, tell me a little bit about yourself.” It’s tailored to the opportunity you’re seeking, tells your target why they should hire you, grabs their attention, and sets the tone for the conversation.
One great way to start is: “I can tell you a lot about myself, but first I’d like to know what it was about my cover letter or résumé that led you to call me in.”
Once the hiring manager tells you something about what is going on in the organization, then you will be able to position yourself appropriately.
Your cover letter is an essential part of a networking or influencing communication. Consider it the written equivalent of your verbal pitch.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of your pitch. It puts you in the driver’s seat, elevates the conversation, and makes a great impression. You can use it to craft the summary for your resume, in interviews, informational meetings, networking, and in any scenario where someone asks: “Tell me about yourself.”
At GetFive, we help our clients craft killer pitches that help them close the deal. To learn more, contact us today.