Career advice

Brush up on your pitch

The elevator pitch has become shorthand for the brief statement used as an introduction in a professional context.

RCN Bulletin Jobs Fair provides a good opportunity to sell yourself to potential employers

Picture credit: Neil O’Connor

The idea is that you find yourself in an elevator with the chief executive of the company, or someone you want to impress, who asks you about yourself. You have 30 seconds to make an impression.

For nurses attending the forthcoming London jobs fair, that 30-second impression could lead to the ideal job. The approach can involve four distinct phases:

What you call yourself. This can be an official title and grade or a more general term.

The length of your experience.

Where you are practising.

Your patient group or team.

For example, this could be: ‘I am an oncology nurse with ten years’ experience working in a teaching hospital, primarily with surgical outpatients.’

Prepare what you are going to say with bullet points as this gives you the opportunity to choose the best words depending on the circumstances.

Record yourself using the memo function on a smartphone and listen back. This can help you get the timing right.

Allow one minute for a pure elevator pitch and less than four minutes for a ‘tell me about yourself’ interview question then edit your statement to make it tighter.

Practice with real people first.

In a pure elevator pitch, you are unlikely to be able to describe much career background, but in an interview, you could summarise your career to include:

What interested you about the profession in the first place.

Where you trained.

Any reason for changing jobs, be it professional – ‘It was the right time to move into managing people’, or personal – ‘my partner had a job offer in Liverpool and I decided to look for a role there.’

Particularly interesting or challenging roles.

For lateral moves, it may be about ‘deepening my experience in oncology before my next promotion’, while for geographical moves it may be about logistics or working with a different patient group to add variety to your CV.

For promotions, the reason may be about the logical next step: ‘After several supervisory roles, I think my next move is management.’

In a networking situation such as the jobs fair, it is best to be explicit about how a person can help you. For example, you could say: ‘I would like to speak to someone who works at the Royal Free hospital and/or a surgery in Barking and/or a rapid response team.’

The key to a great elevator statement is to rehearse it until it feels natural and you can say it without being anxious.

The RCN Bulletin Jobs Fair will be held on September 10/11 at the Business Design Centre, Upper Street, London. The event is free of charge but early booking is advised.

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