75 words are all you need for career success
If you don’t have a professional elevator speech at the ready, consider these tips for creating one.
75 Words Are All You Need For Career Success
Imagine you’re at a professional conference for your field or a seminar on a topic important to your future career, says Day Merrill, founder and principal of 2BDetermined. “You have the chance to introduce yourself and tell people something about who you are, what you’re all about and where you’re headed.” What will you say?
If you’ve prepared your professional elevator speech, you’ll know. This approximately 75-word distillation of your personal brand lets people know who you are and what you do quickly. And it’s not just for elevators.
“A solid elevator speech can be used for brief introductions on the fly, your opening statement in formal informational interviews and a consistent answer to the typical interview question ‘Tell me about yourself,’” Merrill says. If you don’t have a professional elevator speech at the ready, consider these tips for creating one.
Keep it short
“A common myth is that the pitch should be less than 30 seconds,” says Dan Adler, who as founder of Wink Beds makes all the personnel decisions for the company. “By keeping it short, you maintain the listener's attention and subconsciously invite him or her to ask for more information.”
Find something that makes you stand out
Standing out is the whole point of an elevator pitch, so identify what makes you and your experience unique. “The key here is to make yourself memorable and to stand out, so it's OK to think a little outside the box,” Adler says. “Always err on the side of less information. For example, ‘I led my last company in sales during Q1 and Q3.’”
Don’t give it all away
Your elevator pitch doesn’t have to tell the listener everything, says Jon Harrison, personal branding consultant at ClassicallyTrained.net. “You actually want them to ask you questions to extend the conversation,” he says.
Make a connection
“What a lot of job seekers forget to do in their elevator pitch is to ask a question of the listener,” Harrison says. “With a little creativity, you can make any past experience intriguing and still honest.” For a job in a warehouse, for example, he suggests saying, "Have you ever enjoyed a delicious garlic spread on a warm piece of toast? It was my job to make sure that spread was perfectly mixed and safely packed for you to enjoy.”
Highlight pain and solve problems
Elevator pitches highlight the benefit of your service and remind people of the pain they have without your service, says career coach Laura Lee Rose. “Your elevator pitch should highlight the benefits of your services more than the details of what you do, and should remind people of the pain they are experiencing without your service.”
Rose suggests using this formula:
Hi, my name is (your name) and I am a (what you do). I help (description of your target client, job or employer) (description of what you do) so that they (how you can help them fill a need) even if they (obstacles or reasons they avoided doing it in the past) At the end of the day, I (tagline or summary of what you really do for them).
It ends up looking like this:
“Hi, my name is Laura Lee Rose and I am a speaker and author. I am an expert in time and project management. I help busy professionals and entrepreneurs create effective systems so that they can comfortably delegate to others, be more profitable and have time to enjoy life even if they don’t have time to learn new technology or train their staff. I have a knack for turning big ideas into on-time, profitable projects. At the end of the day, I give people peace of mind.”
You’ve learned from an online job listing that an employer has a job that’s exactly what you want. You’re including a cover letter with your resume and job application.
How can you write a letter that interests the employer in hiring you?
A professional writer can help you craft a persuasive letter that wins over an employer. Here’s how.
Why write a letter?
Employers, recruiters, job consultants and others differ on the value of a cover letter.
To some, a cover letter isn’t necessary.
With advances in technology, and widespread use of social media, employers can efficiently search for, learn about, recruit, evaluate and hire the people they want.
And with more hiring done online, a busy hiring manager may only want to read an online job application and resume, especially when a number of people are applying for a job.
To many employers, however, a cover letter enables candidates to demonstrate essential writing skills, make a persuasive case for why they should be hired and personalize their job applications. It can make a difference in who gets a job — and who doesn’t.
Does an employer want a letter?
You can write a letter whether an employer asks for one or not.
Sure, there’s no guarantee an unsolicited letter will get read.
But if you don’t write one, and you don’t get the job, you could be forever asking yourself whether you should have.
Of course, don’t write a letter if an employer specifically says not to.
BEFORE YOU WRITE THE LETTER
1. Understand its purpose.
A cover letter is the spark.
Its purpose is to ignite the employer’s interest in you as a prospective employee.
It’s like a trailer for a movie, an intro to a speech or a tweet promoting a book.
See the movie, listen to the speech, read the book.
A cover letter explains — simply, clearly and persuasively — why you’re the best person for the job.
If it’s well written, it induces the employer to read your resume and job application.
And schedule a job interview. Or a job audition.
If it isn’t, you may never hear from the employer.
2. Know your audience.
As with anything you write, start with your audience.
In this case it’s your prospective employer — and the people in the employer’s organization who participate in the hiring process.
Learn about the company through its web site, social media, trade publications, industry newsletters, news articles and other sources.
If the job listing includes the name of a contact person at the company, learn about that person through research. This can help in customizing your letter.
3. Look at examples.
You can find many excellent examples of cover letters online.
They can give you ideas as to how to write your letter.
What can you learn from them?
4. Determine how you will send the letter.
Assuming you’re emailing your job application to the employer, you can include the cover letter in the body of the email or upload it as an attachment.
The employer may provide directions; if not, sending the letter in your email may be the better choice. An uploaded letter may not get read.
5. Follow the employer’s instructions.
Carefully read the employer’s information about the job and how to apply.
Be certain you’re qualified for the job.
A job may seem exciting, but is it the right job for you?
You won’t know until you talk with the employer.
But the job description, if well written, should give you a good idea.
Follow directions in submitting the application.
If the employer says to limit your resume to a single page, for example, then do so.
HOW TO WRITE A LETTER
Your letter is a pitch for the employer to read your resume and job application.
It should show that:
- you’re excited at the prospect of working for the company,
- you clearly understand the employer’s job requirements and expectations,
- your skills and experience are a perfect match with the employer’s needs and
- you’ll fit right in with people in the employer’s business.
Employment counselors recommend that you send a short, succinct, to-the-point cover letter.
If you can communicate in 300 words instead of 400, great. Or 200 instead of 300, better yet.
To be sure, job seekers who have written longer cover letters have succeeded in landing jobs.
But the letter’s length was beside the point.
It was the originality and creativity that went into the letter.
HOW TO WORK WITH A WRITER
Why hire a writer?
You can hire a professional writer to help you write a cover letter.
Among the reasons:
1. Your cover letter could be some of the most important words you’ll ever write.
If it’s well written, it could help you get your dream job.
And help start you on your career or advance in your career.
2. A writer has the writing skills to show why you’re the best qualified person.
You’re competing with others for the job. A cover letter that shows how you stand out could make the difference in whether you get the job.
3. A writer has the experience to help you craft an outstanding cover letter.
Many writers have experience in writing cover letters — whether in seeking full time work with an employer or, as freelancers, in pitching a prospective client to hire them.
4. A writer can help you avoid mistakes in writing the letter. Such as:
- Showing you don’t understand the job.
- Showing you don’t know the employer’s business.
- Failing to demonstrate what you can do for the company.
- Writing a humdrum letter that shows you didn’t put much thought or care into creating it.
You’ve hired a writer. Now what?
A cover letter is part planning and part writing.
The planning is as important as the writing.
Talk with your writer about:
- The job.
- The employer.
- Why you want the job.
- Your value to the employer.
Discuss the content of the letter with your writer.
1. How can you personalize the letter?
2. How can you tell an interesting story about yourself? A story that relates to the job you’re seeking?
3. How should you begin the letter?
4. How can you show that you have the skills and experience that make you the best candidate?
5. How can you show that you’re the right fit for the company?
6. How will you end the letter?
From thinking and planning, you can move to writing the cover letter.
With big projects like a presentation, a proposal or even a book, the writer does the writing, and the client comments on it, asks for changes, and makes revisions.
This is partly a matter of time: you don’t have the time (and maybe not the skill) to work on such a project.
A cover letter is different.
More so than with other writing projects, the cover letter is a very personal statement.
And you should do the writing.
It helps you to think through why you’re applying for the job, what you can do for the employer, and why you want to join the employer’s organization.
Write your letter in longhand. It helps to bring out your creativity.
Once you have an initial draft of your letter, your writer can offer comments, suggestions and advice on how to improve it.
As with any piece of writing, you and your writer will probably go through multiple revisions before you’re satisfied with the results.
At this point, ask someone else to review it. A mentor, a business associate, a friend. They may have questions, comments and suggestions.
It’s all in the interests of creating a letter that will get you to the next step in the employer’s hiring process. And, ultimately, to a job.
Give your cover letter a final read.
Now you’re ready to send it to the employer.
There’s no guarantee you’ll get the job, of course.
But if you do, congratulations!
If you don’t, despite your best efforts, you’ve nevertheless gained valuable experience in working with a writer on a cover letter.
And you can use it when the next job opportunity comes along.