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Why every college senior needs an elevator pitch

This short, simple statement can help you land a job.

Why every college senior needs an elevator pitch

Brian Smith graduated from the University of Texas at San Antonio in May 2013 and began full time employment at a Fortune 200 company the following week.

He says he did it by using his elevator pitch.

“I attended a workshop my sophomore year of college that explained the importance of an elevator speech, what to include in one and the appropriate times to use one,” Smith says. “This opened my eyes and I diligently jotted down a quick 30-second speech that I could quickly recite to anyone I meet on an escalator or elevator.”

He used it to land an internship in May 2012, and a week after graduation he started full-time in the company’s marketing department. “My elevator speech helped me land a job and continue to meet employees from around the company,” Smith said. “It's a vital part if you want to continue to grow your network and develop professionally.”

A way to stand out

“People right out of college arguably have the toughest time differentiating themselves from other job candidates,” says Geordie McClelland, founder and CEO of The Things, which helps disconnected young people establish careers. “Unfortunately, a person can be reduced to a school, a major, some internships and a GPA,” he said. “An elevator pitch is your opportunity to be memorable, to be different and be recognized as a person, not just a couple of keywords.”

Eleni Karahalios, a 2014 graduate of Denison University, agrees. “College seniors need elevator pitches because it is the most genuine way to distinguish themselves. It not only will provide them with an opportunity to showcase their skills, but also their personality, which 99.9 percent of the time is just as important as their abilities.”

Karahalios works in the recruiting department at GoPro, and the environment is fast-paced. “You need to be able to get your point across (and quick!) if you want to be able to succeed,” she says. “A good elevator pitch will help people remember you, and in an environment where there are so many things going on at once, that is huge.”

It makes you ready for anything

Before your career begins, keep in mind that anyone you meet can end up being an advocate for you on your job search, says LaBarre Spence, associate director of the Graduate Business Career Services at the University of St. Thomas. “Your pitch is your opportunity to energize and impress this potential advocate. So many career success stories include a random encounter with someone who helped open a door for the student,” he says. “Your pitch is about what you've done, why you were successful, where you want to go and why. You need to be prepared for that potential life-changing conversation that could happen anytime, anywhere.”

To develop an elevator pitch, include a brief sentence about yourself, your strengths as a professional, what you’re seeking professionally and how you can provide value to any organization you’re at, says Katie Nunez, career counselor at Whittier College. “Additionally, elevator speeches can be utilized in interviews by the interviewee when asked the typical question, ‘Tell me about yourself’ or at internship or job fairs when meeting with recruiters.”

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