Power Up Your Pitch to Land Job Interviews and Offers

A powerful pitch, one that resonates with your target audience, can give your job search a big boost in this challenging economy. Employers and networking contacts will be impressed when you concisely and engagingly describe what differentiates you from your competitors. Plus the process of creating your pitch is, on its own, well worth your time; the deeply self-reflective thinking that’s required will help you to sell yourself. You’ll need two versions of your pitch:

  • Interview pitch: roughly two minutes in length, it’s the answer to open-ended questions like “tell me about yourself,” “tell me about your background or experience” or “take me through your resume.”
  • Networking pitch: this subset of your interview pitch, at 30 seconds to one-minute, will improve your odds of getting referrals and interviews in informational meetings or networking situations. You’ll share this pitch near the start of a meeting; say something like “why don’t I take a moment to remind you of my background” and then launch into to your pitch.

Create your pitch to answer the only three questions employers care about: “how can you help me,” “why do you want to work here” (your motivation) and “will you fit in?” Deliver the following six pitch elements in the order listed:

1.  The “Hook”: Many jobseekers start their pitch in a conventional way, stating their years of experience and their most recent role. For example: “I bring 10 years of experience in business analysis leadership roles. Currently I’m at X company where I lead…” Starting this way isn’t necessarily bad, but you’re not really standing out from your competition either.

A better approach involves grabbing their attention right away with a powerful, catchy hook that conveys the essence of your value, or what really makes you great at what you do. For example, one client who was targeting business analysis director roles came up with “Throughout my career I’ve turned data into actionable insights that drove substantial new revenue.” This strong start got their attention. Another client, a VP of Learning and Development, began with “I view organizational learning as a journey, and I’m the guide with the map.” She memorably differentiated herself from her competitors as “the guide with the map.”

Note: developing your opening hook can be the hardest part of the pitch, because it requires thinking deeply and creatively to come up with something engaging. The process for creating the remaining pitch elements is more straightforward.

2.  What “box” do you fall into within an organization chart: They need to categorize you, to see where you fit into their organization. If you don’t make it easy for them to see where you fit in, then you’ll have a harder time getting placed in an organization. So this is where you can say “As a director of business analysis…” or “As a learning and development leader…”

3.  What differentiates you from the competition: This part could be delivered as a list of items. You might list organizations that would impress them, or skills or experience that would resonate. For example, “I’ve conducted over 50 business and financial analyses in my 10-plus years at IBM and Microsoft, including financial modeling using SAS and advanced Excel, customer segmentation, forecasting and identifying new revenue opportunities. Over 90% of my analysis recommendations were implemented by management.”

4.  Examples to provide evidence of your ability: Here’s where you introduce a teaser for your two or three well-rehearsed success stories. These stories are relevant examples that you want them to ask you about, so that you can share them in detail in an engaging way. For your pitch, say just enough about these stories to make them want to learn more. Usually they can be pulled right from bullet points in your resume summary section. Make these examples accomplishment oriented. You might say “For example, at IBM I initiated an analysis that identified an entirely new customer segment, resulting in a market opportunity valued at over $50 million by the company.”

5.  Create a conclusion: Say something like “Underlying my success…” or, to continue with the business analysis director example: “I think my ability to build productive, influential relationships with stakeholders at every level of the organization has been a key driver of my success, in addition to my analytic skills.”

6.  Change the subject back to them: For example, say something like “And I’m excited to be talking with you because…<now tell them specifically why you want to work there>…and I wanted to ask you about…<now ask them a question to turn your meeting into a conversation about their challenges and how you can help.>”

Other tips:

  • Make your pitch conversational. To do that, first write it out, then practice it over and over until it’s truly internalized and no longer sounds scripted.
  • Try to integrate words like “you” and “your” to make the content more relevant to your audience. For example, “This might interest you given your launch of…” Plus, you’ll be making your pitch sound more conversational.

Your pitch can be derived from your resume summary section, so you keep your messaging consistent. If you create your summary section the right way, it forms the outline for elements two through five of the pitch.