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For Graduates: How To Develop and Update Your Pitch

May 23, 2011

jdomijan For Graduates: How To Develop and Update Your Pitch

Joyce Domijan

This guest post is part of a series for new grads, written by the career experts at our sister company, CareerBeam. Read on for tips about creating your perfect pitch for employers, from Joyce Domijan, CareerBeam vice president and career coach.

The last time you met someone, there was a point in the conversation where you had to explain who you are and what you do.  We call this a “pitch.” In a pitch, you have an initial 10 seconds to hook the listener.  If you are successful, the listener will give a positive cue for you to continue. The difference between a successful pitch and an unsuccessful one can mean winning or losing an opportunity for yourself.  If you are in a career search this could mean you’ve just won or lost a chance at a potential job.

Most listeners will remember no more than three characteristics about a person in a first meeting.

Regardless of your current status, whether you are looking for a job or loving what you do, you should ALWAYS be prepared with a perfect pitch! Remember that you are selling a story about yourself.  A good story engages the listener so that they want to learn more right away. You should be able to tell a story and get the other person excited about what you do. Write down and practice your pitch, this will help you to visualize your thoughts of who you are, what you do, and the value that you bring.

The biggest mistake with 30-second pitches is that career-building clients try to communicate too many points instead of concentrating on a few key attributes that define who they are in a memorable way. Most listeners will remember no more than three characteristics about a person in a first meeting. So, up-front, determine your three most important traits and develop statements that effectively illustrate those qualities. For example, let’s say you want to communicate that you:

  • Appreciate diversity, are a
  • Team player and are
  • Achievement-oriented

You can illustrate these qualities by saying something like:

“Having studied abroad, I value and appreciate diverse cultures and continue to communicate online with a large network of people around the world.”

Then you would substantiate this introductory statement with an emphasis on your team involvement.

“I’ve participated in numerous international forums and group discussions that bring young people together to brainstorm ideas and solutions to current problems.”

Finally, you provide the listener with information that shows you are achievement-oriented and encourage them to make a connection with you.

Determine your three most important traits and develop statements that effectively illustrate those qualities.

“I enjoy collaborating through these virtual groups because I learn new perspectives and ways of dealing with challenges. Most recently, I completed a project with a small team that involved getting the word to over 75,000 18-24 year olds on a recent bill related to drilling in Alaska. Through a program called LinkedIn, we exceeded our goal – reaching many more people than we anticipated. These experiences have made it clear to me that working as an advocate for environmental issues is where I can be most valuable.”

These three statements communicate your key strengths, then substantiate the strengths with specifics, and close with your current actions. The key here is to know what critical assets you want to communicate about yourself and then develop three concise statements that describe these traits and what you are doing to create a match between you and your target companies.

Remember, people will retain only three points you make about yourself, so pick these traits carefully and substantiate them with examples that show the listener you really possess these qualities. Keep your pitch current whether you’re job hunting or just socializing – you never know when a great opportunity might come your way.

logo For Graduates: How To Develop and Update Your PitchCareerBeam is the industry leader in Virtual Career Success Centers for colleges and universities, providing assessments, resume and cover letter development tools, search strategies and research databases and integrate them into one online portal.

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