Elevator Pitch Examples
"Tell me about yourself." What a loaded question that is! But it is also one of the most important, and most common, questions you’ll get asked throughout your professional career.
Picture this, you are in an elevator and the CIO of your company walks in. You introduce yourself and they say "So tell me a little bit about yourself. What do you do with IT for us?" What is your response? Are you in complete shock that the CIO is asking you questions and your mind goes blank? Do you blurt out a response with basic information and then count the seconds until you can get out of that elevator? Or is this your moment? The one you’ve been preparing for! You are ready and calmly, in 20-30 seconds or so, market yourself as a valuable and devoted technology professional interested in being a progressive change agent for the organization’s strategy, thus leaving a positive first impression.
It’s almost a guarantee that you will be asked the "Tell me about yourself" question at some point in any interview process (or really in any personal or professional setting – think Networking events, family barbeques, school reunions, etc.). You want to be ready to provide a clear, concise response that effectively communicates your key skills, technical competencies, other differentiators and, potentially, your interests/passions. Additionally, your pitch should be persuasive and give enough details that it sparks the interest of the interviewer and makes you memorable!
Don’t know where to start? Review your resume and online profiles (LinkedIn, GitHub, etc.), highlight the things you’re most proud of, technologies you excel at, along with anything you may want to emphasize and expand on in an interview. Here is a content outline to get you started as you craft your professional elevator pitch:
- Your career journey - This is where you include relevant
career highlights of where you started and how that has led you to where you
are today (and where you want to go). Did you start as a Developer and over
the years have moved into an Architect role? Did you start very hands-on technically,
but have since transitioned in a Lead / Management capacity? How does this journey
stack up to the role you are interviewing for? Maybe the position you’re
interviewing for is the next logical step in your career journey or maybe it’s
a stretch! Either way, be able to quickly communicate your work history in a
meaningful and impactful way.
- Recent and relevant focus areas - What
has your focus been the last few years? Are there certain technologies you’ve
become a SME with? Are you working on specific projects within a specific industry?
- Project highlights and/or accomplishments -
What are your notable project successes or
key accomplishments? It could be a massive project you were an essential team
member on (if you’re a Developer, think of your programming achievements),
or a coveted award you won at work. Think about the contributions you are most
proud of and focus on achievements that are relevant to your targeted career
path and the position you are interviewing for!
- Note: While work contributions are very important, think
about your contributions outside work as well. Do you have major contributions to
a technical community? Are you actively involved in user groups and/or have you
taken part in any hackathons? If this is a passion of yours and something, you’re
really proud of, it should be included in your pitch!
- Note: While work contributions are very important, think about your contributions outside work as well. Do you have major contributions to a technical community? Are you actively involved in user groups and/or have you taken part in any hackathons? If this is a passion of yours and something, you’re really proud of, it should be included in your pitch!
- Technologies, tools, methodologies - What
skills would you consider yourself a SME at? Are you the go-to on your team,
or even at your company, with a certain tool or technology? Have you won any
technical awards? Have you been working exclusively on Agile teams and are familiar
with multiple frameworks such a Scrum, Kanban and SAFe? Focus on the technologies
that you’ve used recently, and those that align with what’s being
used on that team if it’s for an interview!
- Degree, certifications, and relevant training -
This is one of the most underutilized categories
and we often find degrees, certifications, and trainings hidden at the bottom
of a resume, and not communicated as part of a pitch.
- Skills gap rebuttals - It’s likely you will be missing a key skill or technology, which is fine. Very few Managers and Recruiters expect you to have every technology, tool, skill, etc. of their requirements list. There is no "perfect candidate." This is your chance to communicate that while you may not have XYZ, you are still a strong candidate and this is why. This can also be the opportunity where you relay why the company should hire you instead of the other applicants. Yes, you want to have a rebuttal for any skills you are missing, but this is also your chance to display why you are unique!
Putting it all together
Now that you’ve answered these questions and outlined some key items to include in your elevator pitch, it’s time to develop your pitch.
"I started my IT career as a SQL Developer after receiving my Masterís in Computer Science. Iíve spent the last 5 years heavily focused on ___ technologies and Iím looking to transition into a Team lead capacity. Iíve had the opportunity to mentor 6 junior developers in past roles and I recently piloted a leadership program for developers at my current company. I also help run our local SQL Server User Group and regularly contribute tips to the online MSSQLTips community."
Practice makes perfect, and preparation is an important key to success in anything you do in life. When I first started my career as a Recruiter, I practiced my personal elevator pitch in the mirror when I was getting ready for work every morning, and on my drive into work (Boston traffic, so you can imagine how much I practiced!), until I had it down. And I did the same thing when I moved into sales and created a new pitch geared to clients on why they should partner with Apex and work with me. It paid off and really helped with my overall confidence!
We highly recommend practicing your elevator pitch in front of a mirror, on your way to work, or reciting it in front of a close confidant or Recruiter. Another best practice is to record yourself to not only gauge how long it takes to complete your pitch, but are you communicating the items in your original objective? Does your pitch sound compelling? Would someone be interested and to know more? Does the flow make sense? The more you practice, the more confident you'll be when it's time to answer the "Tell me about yourself question".
It’s important to have your professional elevator pitch outlined and practiced because you never know when you’ll need to put it to use! Like anything else, you may need to regularly audit and refine what you include, especially if you have upcoming interviews. After outlining your elevator pitch, and prior to an interview, ensure you’re doing the following:
- Outline against the job description - Your pitch needs to be customized for
the specific role and company you’re interviewing for. If you already
have the bulk of your pitch down, this shouldn’t take much effort to update.
Are you a T-SQL guru and they need someone with advanced skills? Definitely
include that in your pitch. Is a specific certification a plus that you happen
to have? Also, something you want to communicate! Take the time to customize
your pitch for the job role at hand.
- Practice makes perfect - Practice in front of a mirror, then record and listen
back. The "Tell me about yourself" questions stumps so
many people, so you really have to practice! Is the intended message coming
- Share with someone and ask for their feedback - If you’re working with a Recruiter, ask if they’d be willing to do a brief mock interview with you and have them include "tell me about yourself" in their line of questioning!
Just remember, this is your time to shine. You have the skills, knowledge, technical expertise, etc. to excel so don’t be a deer in headlights during your next interview (or on the elevator!).
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