When Your 30 Second Pitch Doesn’t Make Sense

I was really introduced to the concept of the 30 second pitch at the first job club I went to.

Don’t get me wrong… I had heard about it before. But this was the first time I really had to (a) come up with my own, that was relevant, and (b) practice using it multiple times.  Doing either of those, especially (b), is a lot harder than just pontificating about your elevator pitch in a college classroom.

Alas, I did it. We did it. All of us job seekers put together our own elevator pitches. And it was hard. It was hard to come up with something about ourselves, and frankly it was hard to listen to all of the horrible pitches.

The focus became memorizing a bad pitch, and not thinking too much about the pitch as a tool, and the purpose of the pitch.

This morning I saw a good blog post that my friend, Master Resume Writer Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter, linked to : How To Get Better At Pitching

In this very short post the author presents five questions to answer before pitching. Just that subtitle made me think “wait, we should maybe not pitch to everyone?”

I thought about how horrible it was to sit through a bunch of crummy elevator pitches. Why was it so hard?

The author’s first of five things is: “Am I pitching to the right person?”

What a great question. When a job seeker shares the elevator pitch they created with another job seeker, it’s usually the wrong message for that person.

It might be the RIGHT message for an interviewer… so I guess it’s good to practice that pitch. But let me encourage you to think like a marketer and know your audience.

Is your message aligned with your audience?

Here are two examples… notice I present two different messages based on the audience:

In an interview: “I have done product management for fifteen years, following a three year stint as a web developer. I found this is a perfect role for a guy like me, who is passionate about business, strategy, and technology. I do my best work when I’m able to own the vision and execution of the product, and have a healthy relationship with customers and prospects.”

To another job seeker: “I’m looking for a product management role in this area. I’ve applied to eBay, Amazon, and Google, but am definitely open to a product management role at a smaller organization. I’m looking for a team that is fast-paced but also wants to develop some of the best technology out there.”

Now, I just spent two minutes on both of those… if I worked on it longer I’d come up with tighter messaging. My point, though, is that you MUST KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE.

Maybe elevator pitches stink so much because we are simply giving the wrong pitch at the wrong time to the wrong person.

If we know our audience, and they become the right person, we can adjust our marketing message with them.  Don’t go on autopilot, lest you might just regurgitate stuff that makes no sense to them.