CareerOwl Featured Career Article

Your Elevator Speech
copyright © by Kevin Donlin

"Why should I hire you?"

That's about the shortest -- and toughest -- question you might ever be asked in a job interview.

So ... what's your answer? Why should an employer hire you instead of someone else with similar skills and experience?

Kevin Donlin
Kevin Donlin

The more convincing your answer, the shorter your next job search is likely to be.

Here's a trick that will force you to develop a short, convincing 30-second commercial for yourself. It's called the Elevator Speech. And I've used it since 1996 to ferret out and create "unique selling propositions" for nearly 2,000 of my resume service clients.

Here's the scenario.

On the way to a job interview with ABC Company, you step on the elevator with ABC's owner. You introduce yourself and she recognizes you, asking: "Why should I hire you?" You have until the elevator reaches her floor to convince her. Try to answer in 30 seconds or less (about 150 words).

Avoid trite claims that anyone could make, such as: "I'm honest, hard-working and trustworthy." This makes you sound like a Boy Scout.

Instead, focus on YOUR unique combination of specific skills, knowledge and experience. Ideally, they'll all have something to do with the job you're after.

Example Elevator Speech: "During my five years of helpdesk experience, I've encountered and solved just about every problem imaginable, supporting more than 225 users on the same operating system your company uses -- Windows NT. I also saved $23,000 by using pre-owned hardware for our latest upgrade. Before that, I completed officer's training as an ROTC student while earning my MIS degree. This gives me a broader range of technical, leadership and problem-solving skills than typical applicants."

According to marketing expert Larry Chase, (and what is a job search, after all, but a marketing campaign?): "I find people appreciate it when you respond in less time than they anticipated. It telegraphs that you are clearly focused and waste no time getting to the point."

So, get to the point in your next job interview. In 30 seconds, if you can. And you can if you develop a short, sharp elevator speech.

Best of luck to you!

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Kevin Donlin is Managing Editor of 1 Day Resumes. The 1DR writers provide same-day, one-on-one resume writing assistance. He is also author of "Resume and Cover Letter Secrets Revealed," a do-it-yourself manual that will help you find a job in 30 days ... or your money back. For more information, click here.

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