The Professional’s Job Search Creed – 7 of 10

Example of Me In 30 Seconds from JibberJobber's Interview PrepThis is part of a series where I’ll introduce 10 points of a creed, and comment on them. The series is summarized as we go (see bottom of post) and you can link back to the commentary on any of the 10 in that summary.

I like this one as it gives me a chance to highlight a feature of JibberJobber that I don’t talk about much:

7. I will do the homework needed to develop my own unique value-added proposition(s) (to be presented in less than 90 seconds) that are based on the company’s needs and my own talent, skills and abilities.

The writer of this creed is really big on “unique value-added propositions,” and with good reason. Basically, it is all about figuring out how to position yourself in your “customer’s” mind (note your customer could be an interviewer, a peer, a network acquaintance, etc.) in a different way than your “competition.”

I remember introducing myself to a new group of people – there were only about 6 of us – and I said “I manage a software company, have been IT Manager of this other company for a few years, have a degree in CIS and an MBA.” I was pretty darn proud of myself – until the main guy running the group (who works as a sr. project manager at a huge international company) said “oh yeah, I know your type.” Know my type? Know my type?? Man, how did I manage to paint myself into that stereotype?? I hadn’t really been trained in this elevator pitch thing, and had no unique value add proposition, and had thus allowed myself to be typed. And when I was typed that way, I became cliché. Which is not what anyone wants to be.

Others talk about this pitch in more of a story format. I’ve read some bloggers in the last few months that think that the 30 second elevator pitch is a waste of oxygen, and there are better, more effective ways to communicate what needs to be communicated. They advocate the mini-story, in which you figure out how to convey who you are in a memorable, catchy story or experience. This goes way beyond the “I’m great because of the same reasons as everyone else you’ve interviewed today” statement.

Some people just say they just hate the pitch totally, and think that it is no replacement for good conversation to get to know them.

I agree with (oh, I’m going to sound like a pre-election politician (cringe) here…) all of them! I think that in your “pitch” it is critical that you have at least one unique value added proposition. I believe that it should be memorable and interesting, and a story or experience is a great way to convey that. In both of these cases it is important to remember the time factor (30 – 90 seconds?). Why? Because there are times when you don’t have the opportunity to get engaged in a deeper conversation! In many networking environments that I’ve been in you get about a minute to introduce yourself to the group. And anyone that goes beyond the “appropriate” time is kind of frowned upon (in my experience).

In the networking and job search that I have been involved in for 2006 I’ve learned that everyone needs to have multiple pitches. Here are some examples of places you can use a pitch:

  • networking event – introduce yourself to the group
  • formal or informal interview – introduce yourself and include a VAP specific to the opportunity or company
  • casual (family reunion, neighborhood party, etc.) – don’t come across as jargon, or like you are selling yourself – usually this is in a crowd of people that do not share your interests and experience and it could go right over their heads as they think “where’s the fried chicken?”

Here are some examples of what the pitch’s theme could be developed on:

  • job posting/title/project – “as an account manager I’ve been able to…”
  • company – “working at ABC company I’ve managed to…” check out this YouTube video for an entrepreneur (thanks to
  • industry – “I’ve been a keynote speaker at many industry events including…”
  • personal strengths – “Having developed abc, I’ve been recognized by the…”

Get the point? Don’t have just one – have a few – or many! Here are some key things to consider:

  • Practice it so that it becomes natural. This is HUGE. When you are communicating your statement you need to be able to read the audience (even if its just one other person). You can’t read (and appropriately respond) if you are trying to think of your next sentence, or worse, you get stuck and are trying to get back into the statement! In my opinion, this is a turn-off.
  • Be flexible. You might have to shift gears quickly – the point of this pitch is to take advantage of a small window of opportunity. If you find that the audience doesn’t get it (or doesn’t care) and would rather talk about something else, realize that developing the relationship with that person is much more valuable than you telling him how cool you are!
  • Be ready for more. Part of the key to a pitch is to have some kind of hook to pique their interest and ask for more. Sure you can give a 30 second pitch, but can you follow up in a good conversation afterwards? Remember the time issue and don’t go on long stories that can become irrelevant – that is just sidetracking the conversation!
  • Use it – for real. When you have the opportunity, use the statements. Practice with real people (friends, relatives, etc.) but use it in real life. It gets better and easier as you use it.
  • Whether you are looking for a job or not, this is a key skill that professionals have. You might as well get good at it now – you can be using it (not necessarily the same statement) for the rest of your career.

Me In 30 Seconds categoriesNow, this ties into JibberJobber nicely. One of the main menu options is “Interview Preparation”, and one of the components in that section is the “Me in 30 Seconds”. You can have as many of these as you want. Premium users can categorize the statements, which is really cool as it allows you to get a printout of all interview prep grouped by category.

For example, you may have the following categories as you prepare your statements: Small, high-tech startup; hospital chain; Business2Consumer. See how your statements might differ for each of these environments?? Note that these categories are defined by you, not me. Customize it however you need to.

If you get an invitation to interview at a small high-tech startup, all you need to do is go in and print off all interview prep answers for that category – and yeehaw! You have a personalized study sheet!

Running List:

  1. I will get a job coach (not my spouse) to hold me accountable for my job search efforts. I will encourange him or her to be honest and indicate that feedback is the greatest gift that I could receive. I will ask for at least weekly contact. (read the post here)
  2. I will network for contacts, opportunities and more market knowledge; making at least 10 networking contacts each day and working towards at least 10 interviews each week; with at least five of those with decision makers. (read the post here)
  3. I will attend the Professional Career Workshop and attend at least one Professional Networking Group each week. (read the post here)
  4. I will define and continually refine my professional brand and unique value-added proposition. (read the post here)
  5. I will identify and understand the needs of my target market – looking for industry gaps, problems and trends – and will target my best prospects within that market. I will do the same for each target company I am pursuing. (read the post here)
  6. I will understand and will be able to discuss my leadership style. (read the post here)
  7. I will do the homework needed to develop my own unique value-added proposition(s) (to be presented in less than 90 seconds) that are based on the company’s needs and my own talent, skills and abilities.
  8. (haven’t done yet)
  9. (haven’t done yet)
  10. (haven’t done yet)

Search accounting internships at College