Make a Good First Impression in 30 Seconds or Less


“I’ve been out of work for three months and am attending networking events in hopes of increasing my luck with employers. Someone told me I should have an elevator speech ready. Can you tell me what that means?” — Benny from Lexington, KY


Do you remember the last commercial you watched on TV?  The catchphrase from the last commercial I watched is still with me.  Imagine there’s a statement about you that really sticks with a potential employer like that.

This statement, often called an “elevator speech,” is basically a commercial about you! Imagine you enter the elevator at the same time as the hiring manager for your dream employer. What can you say during the short elevator ride to sell yourself and make him or her remember you?

Everyone looking for a job should have a short, 15-30 second speech prepared that introduces you and advertises what you can do.  It is perfect for job fairs, networking and even for the “tell me a little about yourself” question at interviews.

How to Write Your Elevator Speech

To get started, brainstorm words and phrases that describe who you are and what you do.  Write them down.  When you are finished, cross off those that are common catchphrases or that don’t uniquely and honestly describe you.  Next, brainstorm a list of what most employers in your field are looking for in their employees.

Using the words and phrases that you came up with, create a 2-3 sentence speech about how you can uniquely help the employer solve a need. Finally, wrap up by asking for something.  Ask if you may give them your business card or résumé, or if they know of someone who is hiring.

A Sample Elevator Speech

Here is sample, catchy elevator speech by a person who worked as a journeyman gas fitter for a gas utility company.

“Hi, I am [name]; I pass gas for a living.  I am looking for work in which all of my skills in natural gas can be put to good use.  Can I please send you my résumé?”

Needless to say, no one forgot what this man did for a living!

An elevator speech will not take the place of networking and building a relationship, but it will help you start the conversation.

It is best to practice, practice, practice your speech.  If you cannot deliver it to yourself in the mirror, you won’t be able to give it to anyone else.

For more tips, watch this short video, How to Pitch a Perfect Elevator Speech.

Just remember: the average elevator ride is 16 seconds.  How will you make the most of your 16 seconds?