Having a concise career value proposition rehearsed and ready can open the door to a new job or your next great hire, says executive resume writer Lisa Rangel.

As a technology executive, or any professional for that matter, you need to have an elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is a roughly 30-second sound bite about your professional self – a response to the question, “Tell me about yourself” or “What do you do?” 

Why do you need any elevator pitch?

While the most well-known situation for using an elevator pitch may be when you are looking for your next job, it has a much broader use when used properly and consistently. An elevator pitch is a strategic communication tool that enables you to explain your career and qualifications to someone succinctly. Most people tend to ramble on aimlessly when talking about themselves, and an elevator pitch can prevent you from falling into that trap.

While you may never use your elevator pitch in an actual elevator, the possibilities for where you can use it to quickly describe to someone what you do are endless. You will most definitely use it at professional conferences, vendor meetings, cocktail parties, networking events and seminars, airline flights, while speaking with prospective hires, community gatherings and, of course, when speaking with executive recruiters and hiring managers. (Maybe we should rename the elevator pitch to the BBQ Boast. The Conference Quote or the Party Pitch. Or how about the Seminar Spiel?) 

Regardless of the name or the place, it behooves you to be ready. 

Making the connection and telling someone about yourself can lead to your next job, a next hire, a new vendor, a sales lead, your next growth opportunity, your next volunteer gig or your next chance to help someone else. So why not be ready? 

Tips for creating your 30-second elevator pitch

  1. Start with a data dump.
    Write down all the achievements you are most proud of in your personal and professional life. Don’t be hindered by what you think should and should not be included. Don’t judge what comes to mind, just write it down. You will edit and cull and refine in later steps – this is the brainstorming phase.

  2. Picture your target audience.
    Think of the target you want to most impress or attract with your pitch. Is it new vendors? Is it technology start-up CEOs who may have new employment opportunities? Is it peers at an industry conference you will meet? Consider the type of people you connect with most and use that as your audience target as you progress through the next steps.  

  3. Write your elevator pitch.
    Use information from the above steps to draft your pitch. Use rewrites and iterations to refine and perfect it. Remember that the goal of your pitch is to create interest and curiosity, and leave people wanting to know more about you. It doesn’t have to include everything you've ever done in the last 25 years. Save that for the follow up call, meeting, or interview.

  4. Think “draw them in” versus “sell them.”
    When crafting your pitch, it’s best to come from a confident perspective of “here is what I do” and resist any urge to sell yourself. That will come across as awkward and off-putting. Instead, draw in the right people by making a firm, specific pitch and let the collaboration of ideas flow naturally from there.

  5. Show your passion.
    Be sure you include why it is you love what you do. It’s one thing to say, “I am a CTO in the insurance sector who modernizes IT infrastructure.” But if you add, “…and what I love most about my job is implementing cutting edge technology that makes our teams more efficient, and our company more profitable." Showing your passion makes your elevator pitch personal and memorable.

  6. Consider situation-based variations.
    You might choose to have one precise, high-power sounding pitch for professional conferences, and another more easy-going, laid back version for sitting on the sideline with parents at your kid’s softball game. Your goals may shift with the audience, so be prepared to change up that aspect of the pitch.

  7. Practice your elevator pitch. 
    Whether it is into the mirror, a recording app on your phone, or to your spouse across the dinner table, practice your elevator pitch. Then practice it again. Only through practice can you hone the words -- and how you deliver them -- to make your elevator pitch sound natural and interesting. Having your elevator pitch down pat will dramatically increase your confidence in professional and social settings.
You know someone is eventually going to ask you at some point, “What do you do?” or “Tell me about yourself.” If you have followed the simple steps above, you won’t have to stumble, or pray that they don’t ask. Instead, you can walk into the room thinking, “Bring it on!”
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