“Okay, let’s hear your elevator pitch, but bear in mind, I have to get off at the next floor.”   Taken from a scene in a popular Netflix show, this line made me consider the time constraints involved in delivering a great elevator speech.

The Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest building in the world, towering at 160 stories high. Did you know that it takes only 2 minutes on a non-stop run from the ground floor to the top? That should give you some idea of the time you have to sell yourself to anyone.  


Climb aboard a crowded elevator and observe how people struggle to find a comfortable spot in which to cast their gaze.  When delivering an elevator speech, all eyes should be on you.  Think you have a captive audience?  Well, yes and no.  Some of your fellow riders are on their phones texting, applying that last bit of mascara or just plain lost in their own thoughts.  Distractions abound in any setting, so use your time wisely and grab their attention with a newsworthy story.

Put the most interesting and pertinent highlights of your background together so you can captivate them in 30 seconds or less.  Even in that Dubai tower, you’ll have only 90 seconds left for questions.

Here are the 5 Things your story needs to cover. Make the chapters short but memorable.    


“I’m an HR Executive, specializing in entrepreneurial companies; most recently in the energy sector. I was one of the original hires for Cyborg Systems, a real pioneer in the HRIS world.  Just three guys, some coding sheets and me and that’s how my career started.”  


Since then, I’ve built the HR function from the ground up including all aspects, but would consider my real expertise in Compensation, Benefits and Talent Management. I’ve worked in corporate offices, plant settings and have experience in multinational companies. With offices in Calgary, Chicago and London, I definitely learned to respect and adapt to cultural differences and got some great lessons in diversity.”


I have a Bachelor’s Degree in HR from Lewis University and a SHRM certification to keep my HR knowledge current.  Learning and development wasn’t just a personal goal.  I launched several successful L & D programs to attract and retain employees.”


“I enjoy cycling and especially like to get involved in rides for charity. The last ride tested my determination with a 150 mile trip along the foothills of the Canadian Rockies.  Raised $2,000 for cancer research and survived 2 days of rain and cold. I’ll probably sign up for the next one only if the trail lies somewhere south of the border. “


“I have targeted the not- for- profits but don’t have specific experience in that sector.  I know that you have worked for charitable organizations for most of your career.  Do you have any advice on how I can transition my experience?  By the way, I noticed your organization is focused on empowering the job seeker.  I’d be happy to volunteer my time and help coach people in their search.”

You’ll have plenty of time to tell the full story later; consider this a trailer with more to come.  Notice the last point is a two-parter.  Never ask for help without offering to give it in return; that’s how your network is built. It’s also perfectly fine to mention something personal as it adds dimension to your life story and prompts conversation.


Now that you have the outline of your story, you’ll also need to be a good storyteller.  Tell it with confidence and a smile.  Show your energy and enthusiasm and leave your audience with the best impression.  Someone could be considering you as a co-worker or referral to the next job, all the while imagining a day in the life with you in that picture.  

The elevator speech is one of the tools for your job search and becomes your personal mantra.  Pack it up and bring it along to networking events, recruiter’s offices, family parties, everywhere.   The more you tell your story, the better you’ll get at telling it.

A powerful story and a good delivery will get you introductions, meetings with decision makers and if you’re pitch perfect, could ultimately lead to a job offer.  Fail to make a good pitch, and you’ll be stuck in the lobby with your fellow riders scrambling to find the nearest stairs.     


  • Barbara Schultz

    Career Coach/Founder

    The Career Stager

    Career Coach and founder of The Career Stager. Certified Professional Resume Writer (CPRW) through National Resume Writers' Association. Named Mid-Career Job Search Expert by Job-Hunt, a highly acclaimed career website with 1.5 + million readers. I help job seekers put their best face forward.