You Have 15 Seconds. Why Should I Hire you?

by Ryon Harms on October 5, 2009

The world is an elevator. That’s especially true for an executive in transition. Every interaction with a fellow executive, potential employer and recruiter is an opportunity to deliver a clear, crisp and compelling elevator pitch that proves you’re a stand out job candidate.

But how do you cram an entire career’s worth of work into just 15 second? You can’t and you don’t. The bad news is that I’ve heard hundreds of long winded, confusing, uncompelling elevator pitches that instantly gives the listener glossy eyes. The good news is that means you have an opportunity to stand out and deliver an impactful elevator pitch that cuts through the noise and makes you the person they remember.

Here are 5 tips to make your elevator pitch sing:

  1. Pay attention. Every executive that’s serious about networking has an elevator pitch. Pay attention to what they say and how they deliver it. This will help you get a feeling for what works and what doesn’t. You’ll probably come across hundreds of forgettable pitches so get good at learning from the bad ones.
  2. Be authentic. Read the first draft of your elevator pitch out loud and honestly ask yourself, “Could somebody else just as easily claim what I’ve just said?” If the answer is yes, start over. If your elevator pitch is indistinguishable from the rest, you’re simply wasting everybody’s time.
  3. Keep practicing. Very few people have the oratorical skill to deliver a 15-second speech on demand and under pressure. To know and live your pitch you’ll need to repeat it outloud100 times. Practice emphasizing different parts of your pitch. How you deliver it is even more important than what you say.
  4. Every word counts. Every word should have a purpose. That purpose should be to have an immediate and lasting impact. If you need some help click here to use the Harvard Business School Elevator Pitch Builder. The ultimate goal is to deliver a pitch that says it all in less than 5 seconds.
  5. Smooth delivery. Too many executives try to cram an entire career’s worth of work into 15 seconds. Rushing through your elevator pitch makes you sound inexperienced. Speak purposefully and with confidence.

Your elevator pitch is more important than your resume. In fact, it’s the most important tool in your job search arsenal. Unfortunately, the only way to master it is to deliver it hundreds of times at every opportunity. If done right, your elevator pitch is your first impression. If done poorly, it’s likely your last.


Does your elevator pitch need work? In the comments box on this post write in 50 words or less why an employer would be foolish not to hire you.  I’ll do my best to respond to everyone’s comments, but I encourage everyone to help each other out and provide some constructive feedback on as many pitches as you can.

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