Perfecting Your Pitch – for Career Success

For many people, the most dreaded interview question is, “Tell me about yourself.” Talking about yourself can be difficult, and doing so in a succinct yet compelling way can be even harder.

But perfecting your “pitch”, the 60-second explanation of who you are, what you do, and why it all matters, is critical to not only succeeding in job interviews, but also to presenting yourself professionally at networking events, writing your LinkedIn profile, and impressing the CEO in chance meetings in the elevator. So here are three tips to think about when you’re preparing your perfect pitch.

Tip #1: Answer 3 questions

When writing your pitch, make sure you are answering three questions: Who are you? What do you do or what problems do you solve? And, why does it all matter? Those three questions are the foundation of any successful pitch, but you don’t have to answer them in that order.

Often, the “Why does it all matter?” part is the most interesting component of the pitch, so don’t rush through it or leave it as an afterthought. People want to know why you are passionate about what you do, and why your passion could be valuable to them.

Tip #2: Know your audience

Your pitch can, and should, change depending on what situation you are in or whom you are speaking with. Basically, you should feel comfortable enough in answering the three questions that you can change it up and don’t sound like a robot reciting a script.

For example, answering the question, “Tell me about yourself” in a job interview is different than when meeting your company’s CEO for the first time, which is also different from bumping into a fellow Database Administrator who works for a company you’d like to work for.

Remember who you are speaking to and that your ‘value’ is different to each of these individuals. Don’t assume that everyone you speak to is looking to hire you, and remember that not every situation is a job interview, but could rather lead to an eventual interview or opportunity in the future.

Tip #3: Use simple, straightforward language

An interesting pitch doesn’t mean you need to use fancy words. In fact, your story and your “why” should be the most compelling part, not the fact that you can use a thesaurus. So remember to not use jargon, or words only your current organisation uses that might confuse listeners. Use clear words that describe what you do, not exaggerations of what you do.

For example, “I write elegant and artistic code to visually enhance the multitude of websites I create for edgy start-up businesses” is not what you should say. Instead, “I design websites for new business owners, ensuring that the mission and brand of the company are clear as soon as you visit the home page” is much better. As a listener, I have a clearer understanding of what you do when you say the second version, than when you say the first version.

Now, with all of these tips, you should be able to start drafting your own perfect pitch. Here’s a sample to help inspire you:

“From a young age, I’ve always enjoyed numbers, and solving puzzles, so an accounting degree seemed the perfect route for me. Now, having recently finished my degree at Monash University, I’m excited to put my knowledge to use in a professional setting. In my spare time, I’m really passionate about volunteering in Melbourne, and I tutor primary aged students in mathematics. I’d love to combine my two main interests, accounting and community service. Specifically, I hope to use my accounting skills to benefit an organisation that is working to help communities in need, so it would be very rewarding to work for a not-for-profit organisation or a foundation.”

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