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Develop an effective Elevator Speech (Your 30 Second Verbal Introduction) Mark Swartz, M.B.A. M.Ed.

About the Author

Mark Swartz, MBA, M.Ed., is Canada's Career Activist. His insights reach millions yearly as the Career Advisor, as author of the best seller "Get Wired, You're Hired," also as a professional speaker and coach on career/work issues. A former Toronto Star careers columnist, Mark's advice is forthright and practical. For Canada's biggest directory of free career articles, and for personalized coaching, please visit

Dear Mark: I've been doing lots of networking since I've started looking for a new job. Every time I meet someone new they ask me the same thing: tell me a little bit about yourself. So far I've tended to launch into my life story and talk endlessly. Is there some sort of formula for introducing yourself quickly and clearly?

-- W. Yearling, Kamloops, British Columbia
Dear Talkative,

No need to feel bad about your excessive chattiness. Many people find it difficult to talk about themselves with strangers, especially when you're searching for work and trying to make a good impression.

Fortunately there are effective ways to tell people about yourself concisely. Keep in mind that your goal is to give someone just enough info so they can start to think about how they can help you. If they're interested in hearing more, they'll ask you additional questions. Here's the scenario: imagine yourself in an elevator with a potential networking contact, and you only have 30 seconds to let them know who you are and what you're looking for - hence the term 'elevator speech.'

With this in mind, it's generally a good idea to briefly cover the following areas in your response: highlights of your work history; your current status; and what it is you're looking for. Here's an example of what you might say when asked to tell someone a little about you.

'Basically I'm an accounts payable specialist in the auto industry. I've worked for companies like General Motors and Magna. Most recently, I was Manager of Accounts Payable for Lear, where I helped reduce outstanding payables by an average of 20 days, which brought in an extra $100,000 a month. Right now I'm looking for a large or medium sized firm in the auto industry that needs someone with my experience.'

See? Short and sweet. You've given sufficient detail to position yourself the way you wanted to. And you haven't bored your audience to tears by going on indefinitely.

Use the template provided below to build your own 'elevator speech.' Then practice it on a friend or two until you feel comfortable. You'll find it will come in handy the entire time you're looking for work.

    Template: Elevator Speech

    I am a (your title or positioning statement) .......... .......... .........., who specializes in (your industry or field) .......... .......... ..........
    I've worked for companies like (name two or three of your past employers) ........... .......... ..........
    Most recently I was (your most recent title and company) .......... .......... .........., where I (list one of your major achievements, including quantified results where possible) .......... .......... ..........
    Currently I am looking for (tell them what kind of job you're seeking, the industry and size of firm) .......... .......... ...........

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