Tag Archives: Elevator pitch

Starting with years of experience in elevator pitch and on resume could hurt you

It’s inevitable. When an older job seeker delivers their elevator pitch to me, they lead with something like “I have 20 years of experience in project management.” My reaction to this auspicious beginning is that it’s not…auspicious. In other words, the person’s years of experience doesn’t impress.

The same principle applies to a resume; touting years of experience in the Summary doesn’t impress a reader. It certainly doesn’t impress me. And I imagine it doesn’t impress hiring authorities, as evident by a raging poll that is only two-days old on LinkedIn.

What impresses me AND employers is what you’ve accomplished most recently, say in the last five to seven years, and that your accomplishments are relevant to the employer’s needs. In addition, because you have 20 plus years of experience doesn’t prove you’ve been productive.

Angela Watts is a former recruiter turned recruiter has this to say about showing value over years of experience:

“Years of experience in and of itself means nothing… you may have been doing a job very poorly for 20+ years. Show me the accomplishments… the pattern of success across roles and companies… your compelling value proposition for THIS open position.”

Hannah Morgan is a career coach and speaker who advises candidates to talk about relevant value and using a hook to begin the elevator pitch and the resume Summary:

This has been a pet peeve of mine since I started! It’s always about what you know how to do (problems you solve). The number of years is irrelevant. Explain the level at which you perform your job! And yes, always get them with a hook. Make it relatable!

If you ask 10 people how someone should deliver their elevator pitch or begin their resume Summary (more about the Summary below), you’ll get 10 different answers. This doesn’t mean the answers will be wrong; it simply means the components of each will vary slightly or be arranged in a different manner.

Your elevator pitch

Following is my opinion on how to deliver the elevator pitch without stating years of experience.

Start strong

Instead of beginning your elevator pitch with the number of years you’ve been in occupation and industry, explain why you enjoy what you’re doing. That’s right, tell the interviewers or fellow networkers what drives you in your work. I’m tempted to say what you’re passionate about, but why not?

People like to hear and see enthusiasm. Especially employers who are hiring people for motivation and fit. Sure, technical skills matter. Employers need to know you can do the job, but your years of experience doesn’t prove you can do the job. “I have 20 years of experience” is a “So what?” statement.

Let’s look at a sample answer to “Tell me about yourself.” The following statement shows enthusiasm and draws the listener’s attention, especially with inflection in your voice:

I knew marketing communications was the route I wanted to take as soon as I realized what an impact it has stakeholders. Playing an integral role in getting the company’s message out to the public is one of my greatest pleasures, (slight rise in voice) especially when it increases awareness of our products or services.

Back it up with relevant accomplishments

This part of your elevator pitch is the most important, as you will speak to the employer’s needs. Two or three relevant accomplishments of what you’ve achieved most recently is best. But keep in mind they don’t want to hear your life story. Keep it brief, yet impactful.

(Big smile) One of my greatest accomplishments is having recently led a social media team of five who were able to increase traffic to my previous company’s website 250% since I took over. I was hired for the role because of my (slight rise in voice) leadership abilities and intimate knowledge of the platforms we used, such as: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

(Slight pause)

One of my favorite aspects of communications is writing content for press releases, whitepapers, customer success stories, newsletters, and product releases. My former boss said I was the most prolific writer he’s seen. More importantly, (slight rise in voice) I increased our organization’s visibility by 40%.

(Another slight pause)

I know you’re looking for someone who can create and conduct webinars. I have extensive experience over the past five years delivering three webinars a week on a consistent basis. These were well received by our (spread arms wide) 10s of thousands of viewers. One of my favorites was interviewing the VP once a month.

Wrap it up with energy

You’ve made it to the concluding statement. Maintain the energy that makes you the go-getter all employers want. Make them look past your age and focus on what you’ve achieved. A strong ending will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Use the word “energy.” If you say it, they’re more likely to believe it.

I’d like to end by saying that I’ve received multiple awards of recognition from my colleagues for not only the expertise I demonstrated (slight rise in voice) but also the energy I exuded. In addition, I was often told by my boss that if she could clone me she would. I will bring to your company the experience required and the energy needed to get things done.

You might be an older candidate, but by not letting interviewers to focus on your 20-years of experience and more on what you’ve accomplished, your chances of wowing them will be greater. They would if I were interviewing you.

What about the resume Summary or Value Proposition?

I propose that your Summary shows personality as well as value you’ll deliver to the employer. You might consider it a miniature elevator pitch. The example below is written in first person point of view, which gives the Value Proposition more personality.

I Identify and minimize risk by predicting the demand for products and adopting new technology with no interruption to the process.

One of my fortes is implementing strategies to speed up the processes of packing, loading and delivering products, thereby increasing customer satisfaction.

“Shannon has brought innovative supply chain strategies to (company) which made us more efficient and save cost. Our customers were extremely pleased with Shannon’s attention to their needs.” Bob Jones, VP Operations, ABC Company

The quote is not a mistake. Quotes can be very impactful because what others say about you weighs heavier that what you say about yourself, especially if it’s coming from someone as high as the VP of operations.


Selected quotes from the poll

Kevin D. Turner: Experience naturally is both Quality & Quantity but I recommend not leading with Quantity. XX Years of Experience was once a perceived value and now can be a limiter to a sizable % of those decision makers who are doing the hiring.

To many, XX years of experience, could bring up thoughts like; ‘they are set in their ways and won’t do it our way,’ ‘they have so many years of experience, we just can’t afford them,’ or ‘How will Bob with XX years of experience relate to 95% of our staff that are Millennials and Gen Z’s?” Put Quality first and let them figure out quantity.

Karen Tisdell: In Australia starting a profile with “I have 20 years experience in…” is standard. It’s also counter to our culture of mateship. 20 years implies that you are better than someone with only 2 or 5 years, and yet we all know that people don’t always have to have years of experience to be brilliant at their job.

Only recently a client of mine won an industry award and he has only been in the industry 5 years, and two of those were part-time. I dislike the ‘where’s my crown?’ implication in the 20 years rhetoric, as you say Bob McIntosh – it’s far from auspicious. It’s snooty, top-down, hierarchical.

Rich Ormond: I think that years of experience are very relevant, although certainly not the totality. If what you say is the default way of thinking, then people like me are in trouble. I’ve essentially had three careers so far — renewable energy, international aid, and now career services.

What’s more, I’ve gone back and forth between them (especially the first two). If I can only count what I’ve done in the last five to seven years, then I can never transition back to a former career.

No, if I ever decide to do so, you can be sure that I will be relying heavily on my years of experience in those fields, citing my recent years only as building complimentary skills. For those like me who do not have linear careers, listing your years of experience in a field is a must, I think.

Virginia Franco: I agree completely — your years of experience isn’t nearly as important as what you’ve done during that time. That being said, it’s confusing for job seekers because job posting usually list desired years of experience!

Meg Applegate: I wholeheartedly agree, Bob! Lead with your unique value not length of tenure. Answer the “why does this matter?” question and the WIIFM questions that hiring managers are asking when reading your resume.

LAURA SMITH-PROULX:I cannot stand to hear elevator pitches (or read resume / LinkedIn summaries) that tout XX years of experience, Bob McIntosh, because there are SO many better ways to describe oneself!

I have the unfortunate lens of having worked at an organization with longtime employees who’d simply clung to their jobs, with no real innovation or achievements to claim. Mere survival in one’s industry is of little value.

The other problem with this statement is that you could be up against candidates with a similarly lengthy career – and THEN what will you use for differentiation? Employers can quickly read or interpret your age and length of experience. Your career branding approach (throughout your elevator pitch and documents) must take care of the rest

Debra Feldman: ⚠ Years of experience can set off an alarm for older candidates. Rather emphasize accomplishments that are relevant to the needs of the employer. What’s that saying about it’s not the years in your life but the life in your years!

Shorter is better when it comes to your elevator pitch: the people have spoken

Has it always been the case that shorter is better? I’m sure there was a time when verbosity was appreciated; when long-winded stories captivated the listeners. Even elevator pitches—statements that answer, “Tell me about yourself”—were longer. I remember a workshop I led where I encouraged two-minute elevator pitches.

But times have changed. I’ve changed. An elevator pitch that’s anywhere between 30-45 seconds is more digestible. One that’s 90-120 seconds is a tad long. Two minutes is way long. This is my opinion. The trick job candidates need to learn is mastering a short, yet value-packed delivery. Again, my opinion.

It matters where you deliver your pitch. At a networking event, your elevator pitch can be 15-30 seconds. Any longer is considered obtrusive. In an interview keeping it under 45 seconds is advised.

But wait? you ask. To answer the directive, “Tell me about yourself” requires a longer explanation in an interview; certainly more than 45 seconds. Here’s my question for you? How long is the average attention span of a human being? I’ll tell you. Eight seconds.

This isn’t to say that after eight seconds we zone out and stop hearing what others are saying. No, we zone out and zone in. Here’s another fact, the attention our attention span has decreased from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 present day. Says Time magazine, the Telegraph, the Guardian, USA Today, the New York Times or the National Post.

Dr. Gemma Brigg from the BBC disputes this: “It’s very much task-dependent. How much attention we apply to a task will vary depending on what the task demand is.”

This article is not about the average attention span of a human, though. It’s about the proper length of an elevator pitch. According to a LinkedIn poll, which has garnered more than 7,000 votes, 16% say the pitch should be approximately 15 seconds, 46% 30 seconds, 31% 45 seconds, and 8% more than 45 seconds.

Here’s are the outlines some interview-prep pros and I offer to structure your elevator pitch. Notice, like snowflakes, that no two are exactly alike, save for the fact that expressing your value is a key element of all elevator pitches. These outlines are laid out in the discussion of the poll.

Sarah Johnston
✔ The hook
✔ 2 Strengths that relate to the job
✔ And WIFM (Which stands for “what’s in it for me?)

Rachel Montañez
✔ Story
✔ Story climax/intrinsic motivation
✔ Evidence of your capabilities and not just your skills
✔ Current goal – Tie it to the corporate values

Me
✔ Ask yourself, “What are the companies pain points?”
✔ Demonstrate your value in form of your passion for the job.
✔ Next talk about your relevant accomplishments.
✔ Why you’re a fit.

KRISTIN A. SHERRY
✔ Three strengths you bring to the job
✔ Plus, the value results
✔ Plus, a story to back it up

ALEX FREUND
✔ Provide some concrete facts the of work you performed.
✔ Give an example of a professional success story.
✔ To follow up immediately on that, ask the interviewer a question about the job’s responsibilities.

Go to Sarah Johnston’s article that describes the following outlines in greater detail.

This still leaves us with the question of how long the elevator pitch should be. Here are the stats again: 16% of voters say the pitch should be approximately 15 seconds, 46% 30 seconds, 31% 45 seconds, and 8% more than 45 seconds.

Let’s hear it from some career-search strategists

Of the 7.065 who voted, some had opinions on the length of the elevator pitch. Most agreed that it depends on the situation, but given the nature of LinkedIn’s polls, listing all the variables is not an option.

Hannah Morgan—Context matters A LOT. Is this pitch being delivered during a job interview? Is it a first interview? Who is asking the question (HR, recruiter, hiring manager).

All these things matter and that’s why one answer won’t work all the time. Attention spans are short. But if you are interviewing for a job, you have up to 1 minute to convey why you are interested and a fit for the role.

Austin Belcak—I’d encourage people to time themselves before answering Bob! I’m a BIG fan of being direct and concise but it’s pretty darn hard to get everything across without leaving out value in <30 seconds even if you have it down pat.

Jim Peacock—I voted longer than 60 seconds because I often think it is more like a conversation about value you bring to the company…specifically that company. If it is in an interview situation then less than 2 minutes for sure.

KRISTIN A. SHERRY—Being able to share your pitch in 60 seconds or less demonstrates confidence and clarity about the value you bring. People can ask for more detail if they want it, so it’s best to be concise. Thank you for the mention!

Angela Watts—As we know, there is rarely a one-size-fits-all approach to these kinds of things. I think it’s always a good idea to err on the side of speaking briefly and allowing the other person to hone in on what interests them most.

Ideally, you would give the pitch and they would be so intrigued by something you said that they will ask for more. When this happens, you’ve got their full attention and intrigue.

Jayne Mattson—If you are referring to being asked “tell me about yourself” as the first interview question, your answer needs to apply to the position. Your examples ideally should be related to what you will do in this role. Have it be 2 minutes and well prepared, so you don’t ramble.

I work with clients on answering with their head and their heart. I always encourage someone to share something about their human side too. After all they are hiring a human being and you can use something that relates to the culture or mission

LoRen 🚀 gReiFf —I advise for 60 seconds; right not rushed. Which means no fat. And the other key to getting it right is lots of practice. “I fear* not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times” – Bruce Lee *Of course the goal isn’t to generate fear, but the take away still applies!

Wendy Schoen—This is a question that is asked in EVERY interview. And a canned answer isn’t going to do it. I am a believer in the 60 second answer. It needs to be tailored to the specific job/company you are interviewing for/with.

It needs to cover who you are, WHAT you have accomplished and WHAT/WHY you are sitting in that chair today! IF you are able to craft the answer in a story, all the better for you. Engage the interviewer with your answer!

Ed Lawrence—In my MCOA sessions, I advocate a concise answer for networking situations. I follow Stephen Melanson’s approach—aim for 15 seconds: continuing if there is clear interest or a question from the other party.

I direct people to work on their 30 second elevator speech, if they want to. I then say it can be the basis for their interview answer to “tell me about yourself.” I think the goal there is one minute. Two at the absolute max and only then if you have led a fascinating life.

Becca Carnahan—I go with three relevant strengths, brief examples/stories, why you’re looking to make a change (in brief- one major reason related to growth/investment in industry/function/role, and why this company is the ideal fit. I recommend 60-90 seconds because the extra length helps answer the interviewer’s next question and ties the interviewee’s experience directly to the role.

Paula Christensen—The pitch length depends on the audience. I recommend between 30-90 seconds. Job seekers need to use their intuition here. The elevator pitch will be longer for someone in your industry who is engaged, like an interview with a hiring manager. Use a shorter version for networking.

Sweta Regmi—It depends on the role, industry and job description. I have coached up to 2 minutes. Use the tactics of commercials we see on TV. If you could pick one pain point on tell me about yourself and say “why you can solve their ongoing problem.” it hits the hiring manager’s head.

Have them at hello. “I understand that your customer satisfaction survey was only 60% last year. I have a formula on how to get that higher. I have saved xxx for my previous company” Dare to show numbers on tell me about yourself.

Rebecca Oppenheim—This is a really important topic – but I strongly disagree with a “one size fits all’ approach. It’s like telling people their resume needs to be X amount of pages. Too many variables. Unfortunately, many interviewers start out with “so tell me about yourself.” And if you go on for a long time, monopolizing the conversation, you’ll lose the interest of the interviewer before you even get started.

Ana Lokotkova—The way I see it, anywhere between 30 and 60 seconds works well. You want to be concise, but at the same time give enough “flavor” to leave the other person curious for more.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

Your elevator pitch: why years of experience doesn’t matter as much as what you’ve accomplished

It’s inevitable. When an older job seeker delivers their elevator pitch to me, they lead with something like “I have 20 years of experience in project management.” My reaction to this auspicious beginning is that it’s not…auspicious. In other words, the person’s years of experience doesn’t impress.

What impresses me AND employers is what you’ve accomplished most recently, say in the last five to seven years, and that your accomplishments are relevant to the employer’s needs. In addition to this, by stating your years of experience, you risk being exposed to ageism.

Besides, your most recent 10-15 years of experience is stated on your resume. There’s no need to bring it up in your elevator pitch.

If you ask 10 people how someone should deliver their elevator pitch, you’ll get 10 different answers. This doesn’t mean the answers will be wrong; it simply means the components of the elevator pitch will vary slightly or be arranged in a different manner.

Following is my opinion on how to deliver the elevator pitch without stating years of experience.

Start strong

Instead of beginning your elevator pitch with the number of years you’ve been in occupation and industry, explain why you enjoy what you’re doing. That’s right, tell the interviewers or fellow networkers what drives you in your work. I’m tempted to say what you’re passionate about, but why not?

People like to hear and see enthusiasm. Especially employers who are hiring people for motivation and fit. Sure, technical skills matter. Employers need to know you can do the job, but your years of experience doesn’t prove you can do the job. “I have 20 years of experience” is a “So what?” statement.

Let’s look at a sample answer to “Tell me about yourself.” The following statement shows enthusiasm and draws the listener’s attention, especially with inflection in your voice:

I knew marketing communications was the route I wanted to take as soon as I realized what an impact it has stakeholders. Playing an integral role in getting the company’s message out to the public is one of my greatest pleasures, (slight rise in voice) especially when it increases awareness of our products or services.

Back it up with relevant accomplishments

This part of your elevator pitch is the most important, as you will speak to the employer’s needs. Two or three relevant accomplishments of what you’ve achieved most recently is best. But keep in mind they don’t want to hear your life story. Keep it brief, yet impactful.

Telling your life story in your written and oral communications is not what employers want to read and hear.

(Big smile) One of my greatest accomplishments is having recently led a social media team of five who were able to increase traffic to my previous company’s website 250% since I took over. I was hired for the role because of my (slight rise in voice) leadership abilities and intimate knowledge of the platforms we used, such as: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

(Slight pause)

One of my favorite aspects of communications is writing content for press releases, whitepapers, customer success stories, newsletters, and product releases. My former boss said I was the most prolific writer he’s seen. More importantly, (slight rise in voice) I increased our organization’s visibility by 40%.

(Another slight pause)

I know you’re looking for someone who can create and conduct webinars. I have extensive experience over the past five years delivering three webinars a week on a consistent basis. These were well received by our (spread arms wide) 10s of thousands of viewers. One of my favorites was interviewing the VP once a month.

Wrap it up with energy

You’ve made it to the concluding statement. Maintain the energy that makes you the go-getter all employers want. Make them look past your age and focus on what you’ve achieved. A strong ending will set the tone for the rest of the interview. Use the word “energy.” If you say it, they’re more likely to believe it.

I’d like to end by saying that I’ve received multiple awards of recognition from my colleagues for not only the expertise I demonstrated (slight rise in voice) but also the energy I exuded. In addition, I was often told by my boss that if she could clone me she would. I will bring to your company the experience required and the energy needed to get things done.

You might be an older candidate, but by not letting interviewers to focus on your 20-years of experience and more on what you’ve accomplished, your chances of wowing them will be greater. They would if I were interviewing you.

Checklist for 26 job-search topics for the New Year

For Christmas my wife sent me to the grocery store for various ingredients for our holiday dinner. I knew trying to remember all the ingredients was going to challenge my waning memory, so I asked her to write a list of said ingredients.

She rolled her eyes but understood how important it was for me to return with the proper ingredients–so important that her list numbered in the area of 25.

The lesson I learned from my shopping spree–by the way, I got all ingredients–was that it was akin to the list of must do’s in the job search.

In reading the list of must do’s below, ask yourself if you’re doing each one in your job search. For example, do you have an elevator speech? Have you attended informational meetings? Consider this the checklist below a partial list of your “ingredients” for the job search.

  1. Understand your workplace values.
  2. Determine what you want to do…what you really want to do. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a great tool.
  3. Hannah Morgan, Career Sherpa, suggests, “a personal marketing plan. It ensures better information gathering during networking meetings and more proactive rather than reactive job search actions.”
  4. Ask for an informational meeting to talk to someone to make sure you’re on the right track, or to introduce yourself to a company.
  5. Assess your skills and accomplishments. Make a list for both.
  6. Learn how to write your résumé. Attend workshops offered by your college or local career center.
  7. Write a targeted résumé with highlighted experience and accomplishments.
  8. Write a cover letter template, which will later be targeted for particular positions.
  9. Create a personal commercial or elevator speech which explains your value to the employer.
  10. Determine how you’ll approach the job search, making networking your primary method.
  11. Join LinkedIn with full intention of engaging, not using it as a place mat on the Internet.
  12. Copy and paste the contents of your new résumé to your LinkedIn profile, which you’ll modify to be a better networking tool.
  13. Develop a networking list that includes past colleagues and managers, as well as others who we’ll call your superficial connections.
  14. Formally let people know you’re out of work. How can they help you if they don’t know you’re looking?
  15. Develop business cards for your business—the product you’re selling is you.
  16. Attend networking events. Make sure you bring your business cards.
  17. Follow up with everyone with whom you’ve conversed and exchanged business cards.
  18. Send approach letters/e-mails to companies for which you’d like to work.
  19. Organize your job search by keeping track of your inquiries, contacts, résumés sent out, etc.
  20. Prepare for telephone interviews. Make sure all of the above written communications are in place.
  21. Ask for mock interviews which should be recorded and critiqued by a professional career consultant.
  22. Do your research on the jobs and the companies to which you apply.
  23. Double check your first impression, including attire, body language, small talk, and portfolio.
  24. Be prepared to answer the difficult questions concerning job-related, transferable, and personality skills.
  25. Have your stories ready using the STAR formula.
  26. Write thank you notes via e-mail or hard copy.

Have you been doing everything on this list, or the majority of them? If you are missing any of the above, make sure to nail them this year. Let me know of others I’m missing. Perhaps we can double this list. And yes, the meal was excellent.