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elevator pitch, introduction, sales pitch, what do you do for a living

What Do You Do?: Formulating Your Elevator Pitch

-“So what do you do for a living?”

It is a pretty common question, but yet one that stumps many people.  It should be relatively easy to reply to that question; since we spend over 2,080 hours a year working at the job we are being asked about…so why is it hard to summarize an answer to that question without fumbling?

-“Um, I am a manager at a school”

OK, not the best reply, because there’s no additional WOW factor or added interest in order to continue with a conversation.  So how could you answer that question better? You could say…

-”I manage the student experience at a local computer training school; it is actually Microsoft’s largest training provider.   I handle the student’s progression from new orientation, all the way through to graduation. I am essentially the one-stop shop for all students’ questions, issues, scheduling, and career services.” 

Now that opens up the door to a conversation.

The importance of a brief Elevator Pitch cannot be undervalued. Whether you are socializing, networking, interviewing for a job, or just having casual conversation – you should be able to quickly and succinctly sum up what you do for a living and why it should be interesting to someone else.   It’s more than just having a good conversation, it’s a way to market yourself in everyday life, that can reap unexpected benefits or opportunities with very little effort on your part.

elevator pitch, career tips, business skills

How do you formulate your elevator pitch?

-“What do you do for a living?”

-“I’m an HR Manager”

Again, there’s not much there to work with, so let’s add some details to formulate a complete picture of what you do for a living, and quantify it, if we can.  Show someone what makes you stand out in your field.

-“I’m the HR Manager for a fortune 500 company with various locations – I oversee the hiring and retention of the entire IT staff, and currently I maintain a 89% retention rate, which is practically unheard of in IT.” 

Now we are working with something!  What makes this brief elevator pitch stand out?  The details included and the perspective that it brings to the listener.  Not everyone knows instinctively what an HR Manager would be responsible for, or what a Manager at a school even does…so you have to educate your listener in a brief amount time, without making it too complicated.  Some of the best elevator pitches break down a complex job to the simplest terms, in order to meet their audience on their knowledge level.  The importance is always in the details…leave your audience with something memorable about your work – they may not understand every aspect of your job (and that’s ok) but make sure they walk away with something meaningful to remind them of what you do.

How do you sell yourself?

So take a few minutes and think about it…”What do you do for a living?” and pretend you are explaining it to a 9 year old with very high standards….you must explain it simply, while also impressing them.  Now granted, not everyone wants to toot their own horn, but in career (and life) sometimes you have to leave your shyness at the door in order to keep climbing the corporate ladder.

So, what do you do for a living?


If you liked this article, you’ll love these ones too! Unlock the secrets to a better professional life! 

3 Steps You Can Implement to Aid in Setting Expectations

4 Things to Remember When Having the Tough Conversations

The Secrets to Time Management 

7 Ways to Take Control of Your Job Search


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