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Fear of Heights and Four Excuses to Eliminate to Master the Elevator Pitch for Your Job Search

“Don't look for excuses to lose. Look for excuses to win.” Chi-Chi Rodriguez

When I was searching for famous quotes about excuses, I found this excellent quote from Chi-Chi Rodriguez. Besides being a perfect quote for today’s blog topic, Chi-Chi was always one of the favorite golfers from my youth. Eight career tour PGA wins, a member of the Golf Hall of Fame, a great name, and perhaps the most magnificent hat ever on the PGA Tour. I am not sure if Chi-Chi ever had to give an elevator pitch or search for a job, but if he did, I am sure he would not have made up any excuses.

When I speak to job seekers about their elevator pitch, I want them to be more like Chi-Chi Rodriguez. Some of the heaviest lifting you will do in your job search is to draft your elevator pitch and learn to be fluent in delivering that pitch in any situation. Your elevator pitch is one of the most fundamental tools in your job search process. The elevator pitch supports the professional summary on your resume and LinkedIn profile, anchors your cover letter, and is a rock for your networking and interview activities.

Just because a good elevator pitch is essential for your job search does not mean most job seekers are excited about developing their pitch. I often hear an audible groan when I broach the topic. More than a distinct sound of trepidation, many times I hear a wide range of excuses. Fear of heights and the dog ate my elevator pitch are illustrative examples. But here are four real word excuses for not having an elevator pitch and how you can crush that excuse, master your elevator pitch and land that next job.

#1: I’m not into sales. An elevator pitch sounds too pushy.

Get over it. Sales is not a sub-standard occupation. A job posting or an open position means that the hiring organization has a pain point. There is work to be done and no one to do it at the current time. That is the definition of pain in the workplace. Sales in the job search process, or more explicitly selling yourself, is a strategy to clearly understand the requirements of that open position and how you can best eliminate the pain and improve the productivity of the organization. Your elevator pitch is a useful tool to articulate your value proposition in the most efficient manner possible.

#2: I’m not special. I don’t have a unique value proposition for my elevator pitch.

Your parents think you are special, and you should too. We all have a unique value proposition. If you are not sure what gives you that advantage over the competition, you just haven’t asked yourself the right questions yet. And you may need to check your confidence meter. Take some time to complete a self-assessment and identify your personal and career-related strengths. Draft an inventory list of work and projects that you have completed. Identify what was your unique contribution to each project. Would the initiative have been successful without your participation? If not, document the essence of your winning formula. Ask your friends and coworkers for an honest evaluation of your strengths. Take all that information and condense it down into your unique value proposition. Then be sure to tailor that elevator pitch to the position and organization that you are targeting.

#3: I don’t like to talk about myself.

In theory, the personal elevator pitch is about you. And in each job search situation where you use an elevator pitch, you are talking (in person or writing). So yes, to succeed with your elevator pitch, you need to talk about yourself. If you will not speak about yourself, who will? To get started, understand that while you are speaking about yourself, the message is focused on your customer, the target employer. Think of yourself as a storyteller. A winning elevator pitch tells a story about how you can best solve specific problems and add value to a job, a team, and an organization. And if that doesn’t work, try some humor, smile and don’t take yourself too seriously. Just like Stuart Smalley in the classic Daily Affirmations skit where he says: “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggonit, people like me.” Even Michael Jordan got in on the act in one of my Daily Affirmations favorite clips.

#4: I don’t like watching myself on video.

What does video have to do with your elevator pitch? What does going to the driving range have to do with improving your golf game? The answer to both questions is practice and repetition. I ask all my clients to record themselves, delivering the elevator pitch. I have yet to meet the client that jumps up in excitement at this exercise. But most importantly, they do it. The first videos can be rough. One client humorously told me recently that the first videos “come across as someone who is being held in North Korea and secretly asking for help.” But this same client did not give up and continued to practice. And with that practice, the pitch becomes stronger, more conversational and the job search results improve with interviews and offers. I love that attitude, and it speaks volumes about the client’s strength, dedication, and focus. So, get out the phone or webcam and start the recording.

Remember what my good friend, Chi-Chi Rodriguez told us about excuses. They have no place in your job search. To land that next job, you are going to have to move outside your comfort zone. Whether that is talking to strangers in a networking meeting or delivering your elevator pitch. Just resolve to get started. One foot in front of the other. Your elevator pitch and your next job are waiting for you.

If you like getting your job search advice served up with an authentic voice, a dose of humility, and some popular culture, please subscribe to my AdvantEdge blog.

Dan Troup is the Managing Director of the AdvantEdge Careers coaching service. If you are interested in learning more about how a job search expert and certified career coach can assist you, please contact AdvantEdge Careers for a free initial consultation.


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