Make a Powerful First Impression: Tips for Your Elevator Pitch

(Hybrid Images / Getty Images)

An elevator pitch may sound like a pushy or uncomfortable way to sell yourself, but it doesn’t have to be a corporate suit-and-tie moment. Think of it as a quick, engaging and effective way to make an impression that leaves the person you’re chatting with hungry to know more.  

Martha Lopez, NBCUniversal talent acquisition manager
Martha Lopez, NBCUniversal talent acquisition manager

Consider the time it takes to ride an elevator to your desired floor — typically, 60 to 90 seconds. When it comes to landing a job, your elevator pitch should be about a minute-long overview of who you are, what you are looking to accomplish and how you will bring value to an organization. An elevator pitch is also useful when you’re networking because you never know if the person you’re “pitching” can someday be a career connection.  

Sign up for our newsletter! Right Arrow

Martha Lopez, NBCUniversal talent acquisition manager, shares tips on how you can write a concise pitch so your audience learns the most relevant things about you and your career before those elevator doors open. 

First floor: Introduce yourself

Start a cold introduction by sharing your name and current role. Include what makes you unique, such as if you grew up in a place that formed your upbringing. That way you can stand out during their busy day or among other candidates.  

Reflect: How did your upbringing shape your career decisions? What previous roles did you have? What projects did you work on to get you to where you are?  

Second floor: Share your goals

Make yourself relevant to their company and job. Consider what you know about the role and company, and mention the skills you have that will be beneficial to their objective.   

Reflect: Is this a company you dream of working for? Are you looking to pivot into a new career? If so, how are your skills transferable? 

Third floor: Know your value and make “the ask”

Conclude your pitch with anything you’re looking for, what you could do for them or how they can contact you. Make sure they walk away knowing how you can help them. 

Reflect: What is the greatest thing you’d like to get across about yourself in this interaction? 

Sample elevator pitches

Example #1: Recent college graduate

Here’s an example of an elevator pitch, created from the point of view of what someone straight out of college and looking to become a production assistant in a newsroom might say to a producer they meet at a networking event:  

Hi, I am Martha, and as a child I remember our evening ritual at home: watching “Nightly News” on NBC. This show would spark conversation with my family, sometimes even a debate! Even though our opinions would differ, I was fascinated by the dialogue this created in my family every evening. This is when I fell in love with news programming. I’d picture myself behind the camera, prepping the anchor on what to say.

I went to college, and since I already had a goal of what I would set off to do in my career, I majored in journalism. Last year, I applied to internships in the newsroom and was lucky enough to land one at NBC. This internship offered me exposure to all aspects of the newsroom, and I quickly learned that there are many roles. I became a sponge, raised my hand to help with any projects and shadowed as many people as possible. This stood out to my supervisors, and I consistently was trusted to help with top stories!

I graduate this May and am ready to take on the production assistant role you have open at “Nightly News.” Here is my contact information. Would you be open to a call next week? 

Remember to keep it brief, and know your audience. Adapt your elevator pitch to reflect whom you are speaking with and where you met. Are you at a dinner? A networking event? A job interview? Craft and practice different versions of your elevator pitch for a variety of occasions so you are always prepared. You never know who you’ll meet! 

Example #2: Martha Lopez, recruiter 

I’m Martha Lopez, and I fell in love with recruiting over 20 years ago. I grew up in the border city of San Diego. I never thought I’d end up working for some of the biggest entertainment companies. The reason I didn’t have these expectations is because as a young girl, where I grew up, we weren’t surrounded by those that had jobs in media. I had to venture out to get that exposure, and once I did, I realized that my goal was to find opportunities to give that little girl who grew up like me information on how she, too, can get a dream job.   

I manage the Talent Acquisition team that staffs the shows for NBC News and MSNBC. Our team’s focus is to consistently ensure a fair and equitable interview process so that those who didn’t have mentors or guidance can fairly compete for these jobs. One of the ways we do this, and it’s actually my favorite thing to do, is to participate in events where we can equip as many people as possible with information and insights that could help them land a job with us or in this industry.  Partnering with NBCU Academy is a great way to do this! 

Example #3: Emily Porter – principal recruiter and previous digital executive producer

I am Emily Porter, a principal recruiter for NBC News and loyal proponent of transferable skill. Because without it, I wouldn’t be a principal recruiter for NBC News. 

My journey started in 2007 as a customer service representative for an e-commerce business. I was given the opportunity in a small start-up environment to experiment and grow. I learned how to navigate website infrastructure, create marketing campaigns and leverage analytics and social media tools. Ultimately, I left that company to secure a job as a marketing manager and digital generalist for another start-up, where I continued to learn skills like coding, graphics, email marketing and software testing.  

My career took yet another unexpected twist when I made my way into a newsroom, really by happenstance. I came in with a strong digital background but no experience in the very tough news business. However, I quickly fell in love with it (it’s hard not to) and stayed in this field for about a decade. My final newsroom title before becoming a recruiter was digital EP. During my tenure, I won multiple Lone Star Emmy Awards and an Edward R. Murrow Award. I also was executive producer of the station’s first-ever podcast, crafted my video journalism skills and helped shape coverage on some of the country’s biggest news stories. 

When the opportunity arose to wear another hat, I was hesitant, but found a new passion in carving a path for journalists like myself to find their own place in news. Each experience I’ve had has crafted my career and made me the well-rounded and knowledgeable employee I am today. As a recruiter, I now have the privilege to connect candidates to their dream jobs, ever keeping in mind the power of transferable skills. Much to my surprise, I love it just as much as being in a newsroom. I have a quote in my email signature from the great filmmaker Ava DuVernay, “If your dream only includes you, it’s too small.”  My goal today is to continue to grow as a recruiter and connect to opportunities that will allow me to connect others with opportunities.