Career: The elevator pitch

Have a brief but strategic career message at the ready to capitalize on any chance encounters with influential people in the industry.


Filed to: Job search

Job elevator pitch
Photo by Scott Szarapka/Unsplash

You have 30 seconds in an elevator with your dream employer — are you ready for it? What will you say?

With the Golf Industry Show and regional conferences fast approaching, now is the time to prepare so you can make the most of all the opportunities that come your way, whether they’re planned introductions or an impromptu, once-in-a-lifetime elevator ride. Use these tips and strategies to shine in your next encounter.

Concise is king

The key to success is to expect and plan for chance meetings with potential employers and other influential people by crafting, practicing and honing your message. In the ’90s, the term “elevator pitch” was coined to capture the idea of capitalizing on such occurrences, particularly in the sales field. The term has evolved into more areas of business, and the value of being concise continues to dominate in our 140-character digital world.

An elevator pitch is generally described as a 30- to 60-second message that aims to create a positive impression on someone, which can then lead to future opportunities. The pitch can be about a product, idea, service or person — you! It is not a rush to tell someone all about you, however, nor should your pitch consist of a list of your job titles or a summary of your résumé. Rather, it should be about the other person and meeting his or her needs and priorities, with the goal being to gain the person’s interest and compel him or her to learn more about you.

Chat first, pitch later

I had the honor of presenting a career session at GIS last year with Jan Fox, owner of Fox Talks LLC and an expert in effective communicating. She suggests jump-starting a brief encounter by using questions to immediately engage the other person. Ask questions using the word “you” and that are focused on the other person. Set out to learn about the person, and there will inevitably be an opening in the conversation to drive it toward your desired message. Fox says the essential thing to remember is to always chat first, pitch later — not the other way around.


When it’s time for your pitch, how do you determine the content of your message? In prepping your “sell” ahead of time, start by revisiting your career aspirations. Consider next-step career moves, identify skills and qualities necessary to your ideal next role, and then focus your message on how you meet those criteria.

For example, if your goal is to work at a top-rated private golf facility, then your 30 seconds of communication must highlight your focus on members and providing a championship-level product for your golfers. Even when talking about yourself, be sure to keep the emphasis on the other person by framing your pitch in a way that shows the value you’d provide them and how your unique qualifications would benefit them.

An example of this may sound something like, “Have you ever played golf? I’m a golf course superintendent, which means I’m the person who manages the team that makes sure anyone who comes to our facility has the best possible experience, and that’s what motivates me every morning — providing the best service for our golfers and guests.”

Finally, in fashioning your pitch, ask yourself: If I wanted this person to remember one thing about me, what would it be? Remember: In our scenario of the elevator ride, the timing is unpredictable, so don’t waste a second.

Go ahead ... ask!

The purpose of the elevator pitch is to get the other person inspired to learn more about you, so don’t leave off your call to action. After you’ve found points of connection, your additional interaction and possible relationship with the person depends simply on your initiative to ask. Mention that you would like to talk more, and ask to exchange business cards or to arrange for some way to connect in the future.

You likely won’t land your next job in just 30 seconds, but you could launch a relationship that ultimately leads to your dream position.

Carol D. Rau, PHR, is a career consultant with GCSAA and the owner of Career Advantage, a career consulting firm in Lawrence, Kan., specializing in golf and turf industry careers. GCSAA members receive complimentary résumé critiques from Rau and her team; résumé, cover letter and LinkedIn creation for a reduced member rate; and interview preparation and portfolio consultation.