One of the best things you can do when on the job hunt is to have a personal statement, or elevator pitch*, ready. You can put a personal statement on your resume, but you should also be prepared with a brief introduction that you can use when someone asks you tell them about you. In a job interview, or at a networking event, you need to be prepared with a brief, yet useful, statement of who you are and what you offer. Remember that you only have about 30 to 60 seconds to create interest. After that time limit, many people stop listening.
*The term elevator pitch comes from the amount of time you usually have to present your case of you have a chance encounter with someone on an elevator; you want to hook their attention in the shortest possible amount of time, which coincides with the 30-60 second rule.
Elements of a Personal Statement
Take the time to consider the most important aspects of you. If your personal statement is going on a resume, you should try to tweak your personal statement to reflect that you have the skills and attributes the employer is looking for. Before you go into a job interview, you can consider the information you want to include if the interviewer should ask you for more information about who you are. Also, give your personal statement some thought when you apply so that you re ready in the event of a surprise phone interview.
There are three main parts to a personal statement:
- Career objective: Briefly state your career objective and the position you want.
- Accomplishments: Mention around three accomplishments that demonstrate your fitness for the position, or that illustrate your proficiency in the field.
- Skills: Include special skills that you have for the job, or explain how the skills you have can be adapted to benefit your new position.
Once you know which items you want to highlight, you need to begin crafting your personal statement. For a resume, you can do this in two or three brief sentences. If you are going to be using your personal statement for networking or at a job interview, you will need to practice being succinct, and practice your delivery so that it flows well (but doesn’t come out sounding rote).
Other things to remember as you create a personal statement include:
- Try to avoid clichés. Telling people how hardworking, loyal and trustworthy you are doesn’t set you apart. Most job seekers use those descriptions. Your personal statement should strive to convey those values by using examples, without you needing to list them right out.
- Speak in the present tense: You want to convey the idea that you are viable now, and that you can make a contribution today.
- Remember your audience: When networking, you should limit jargon — especially if you are speaking with someone who isn’t directly in your field or someone who doesn’t have your expertise.
- Change things up: If you will be going in for an interview, make sure that you tweak your personal statement so that you aren’t saying the same thing that the employer is already reading at the top of your resume.
- Consider personal information: If you are asked specifically about what you like to do in your free time, or to come up with something interesting or unexpected about yourself, you may need that information. Think about it ahead of time, so that you are ready with a response.
Crafting a personal statement, or elevator pitch, can be a big help to you as you search for a job. It lets employers and others know about you quickly, and it can convey your competence and qualifications rapidly. Take the time to refine and practice your personal statement so that it looks good on paper — and so that you can deliver it naturally in an interview.