To Be Differentiated, Create a Unique Elevator Speech

January 25, 2012

Could you effectively sell yourself to a prospective employer if you were alone with him or her for 30 seconds in an elevator?

Can you talk about yourself without using the same, worn clichés used by every other job seeker? Can you say something about your brand that others cannot say about theirs?

An effective elevator pitch should be:

  1. Relevant. Talk about the impact you can have on their success.
  2. Differentiating. Don’t say things about yourself that everyone else can say about themselves.
  3. Conversational. Your message should not sound like some formal, memorized script. With practice, your elevator speech can come from the heart and roll off your tongue in a very conversational manner.

Seth Godin, one of my favorite authors and bloggers, says this about elevator speeches:

No one ever bought anything in an elevator

The purpose of an elevator pitch isn’t to close the sale.

The goal isn’t even to give a short, accurate, Wikipedia-standard description of you or your project.

And the idea of using vacuous, vague words to craft a bland mission statement is dumb.

No, the purpose of an elevator pitch is to describe a situation or solution so compelling that the person you’re with wants to hear more even after the elevator ride is over.

Spend the time necessary to prepare your own elevator speech. It will take time and practice, but you want to be ready when the elevator door closes and you have 30 seconds to say something about your unique, differentiated brand.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH


How to Differentiate Yourself in a Competitive Job Market

January 23, 2012

In a job search, if you are not differentiated you are not marketable.

A few years ago I was hiring for an open position on my marketing and communications team. Although I was bombarded with 200 applications, I personally considered the merits of every single candidate.

Very quickly, though, my eyes glazed over. Everyone looked alike. They all seemed to be saying the same thing. They even used the same clichés to describe themselves. Everyone claims to be:

  •  Creative.
  •  An excellent communicator.
  •  A problem solver.
  •  Highly motivated.
  •  Results oriented.
  •  Hard working.

Everyone, it seemed, described himself or herself in the exact same way. Had I changed the names at the top of each resume, it wouldn’t have mattered. Quite frankly, I felt as if I’d walked into a Baskin-Robbins store where the only flavor was vanilla. Everyone, it seemed, had bought the same book on writing cover letters and they even selected the same buzz phrases to use.

A prospective employer has no reason to hire you if you can’t differentiate yourself in a job search. Three ways to be different and stand out from the rest of the pack are:

  1. Know your competition. It goes without saying, but you will never differentiate yourself from others unless you know who they are.
  2. Create a unique elevator pitch. In 30 seconds, you must be able to describe yourself to a prospective employer so he or she takes an interest and wants to learn more about you.
  3. Blend your personal and professional lives. An effective brand is never one dimensional. You are a unique and multifaceted person, and your brand is a rich combination of a) who you are professionally, b) who you are personally and c) what you think and how you see the world around you.

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These ideas on personal branding were originally presented during two workshops I conducted for the Nonprofit Leadership Alliance. The sessions were attended by current and aspiring nonprofit leaders who came from across the nation for the annual Alliance Management/Leadership Institute, the nation’s largest leadership development and networking symposium for students, faculty and nonprofit professionals. —DH

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10 Marketing Tips for an Effective Job Search

September 1, 2009

In these tough economic times, I know too many good people who are between jobs. It’s a noisy, competitive job market and as I observe the chaos, two things become apparent:

  1. Too many people are clamoring for the same few jobs.
  2. Only a small minority of those people are doing a good job of marketing themselves.

Having been in a job search myself, I feel great empathy for job seekers. From my personal experience, I’ve learned more about career transitions than I ever cared to know. Therefore, I’m often asked to network with job seekers to help them brainstorm strategies for a job search.

I’m always willing to share what I’ve learned if it can help someone else along the path. Most of my advice, though, can be summarized in the following 10 items:

  1. Think of yourself as a “product” to be marketed in a noisy, competitive marketplace.
  2. Have a personal marketing plan.
  3. Differentiate yourself. I can’t stress this enough. Be memorable. Be unique.
  4. Be findable. Create a large digital footprint by using sites such as LinkedIn, Facebook and Google Profiles.
  5. Know who you are. Develop an effective “elevator speech” or “30-second commercial.”
  6. Know where you are you going. Describe your destination so others can visualize you once you’ve reached your destination.
  7. Let people know how they can help. Be specific. Generalities usually do not generate the desired results.
  8. Use stories to describe your achievements.
  9. Talk about the benefits you offer, not the features described in your resume.
  10. Believe in yourself (or no one else will).

Okay, I’ve shared lessons I learned along the pathway, and I’d like to hear from someone who has navigated a career transition. If you’ve successfully emerged from a job search, what did you learn? What worked for you? What advice would you share?

On the other hand, if you have recently hired someone, what additional wisdom would you share with a job seeker?


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