Frank Huang | Mustang News

Next to “What’s your major?”, the question you’ll be asked most in college is “What can you tell me about yourself?” This question is incredibly important in the job hunting world. The answer is often called your elevator pitch. When you ‘accidently’ get stuck in an elevator with a top executive of a company, you may be asked to talk about yourself. How can you possibly describe everything you want them to know in the short time an elevator ride provides? What you say and do can show real promise as a recruit for their company. This same monologue can apply to the upcoming Fall Career Fair. The message you send should be tailored, concise and memorable.

What you should include

When different people ask you about yourself, they expect to hear different things. If it’s your grandmother, you probably won’t be filling her in on how your expertise in public relations will make you an asset to a local Kickstarter company. If it’s a professional recruiter, you probably won’t be talking about your macramé and weaving hobbies.

At the career fair, recruiters are scoping you out for jobs, so you want to impress them. You wouldn’t spend their — and your — short amount of time trying to convince them that your English degree will make you the best coder at their company.

Tailoring your message

“Researching a company is incredibly important,” American Marketing Association (AMA) Business Council Representative and business administration sophomore AJ Goldberg said. “There are a bunch of qualified people, but a company is looking for someone who is qualified, knows about their company, and is interested in working for them.”

Showing that you did your research can lead to internship and employment opportunities.

Before talking face to face, do reconnaissance on booths and find the companies you recognize and are interested in. Thinking about what the employers are looking for can help you tailor your pitch to suit a specific company. Everyone at Cal Poly has experience and education, and companies are looking for how that experience can be useful to them. Co-president of AMA and business administration senior John Franzia weighed in on what not to say to
potential employers.

“Don’t sell yourself short,” Franzia said. “We go to a great school and we have lots to be proud of. Let your recruiter know that.”

How to be concise

Keeping your story concise is also important at the career fair. For the companies there, time is money. A drawn-out explanation of your entire life is a good way to lose their attention. Keeping with the idea of an elevator ride, your story should be about 30 seconds to a minute long, meaning you’ll need to leave out some details. Talking about every single class you’ve taken that qualifies you for a job may seem like a good idea, but you can sum it up in less time and still come off as prepared.

According to Franzia, “it’s important to find a balance between sharing enough to make yourself stand out and being conscious of their time. They are here to talk to as many students as possible.”

Get in your two cents with the time you have. Franzia also said to ask for contact information and follow up if you need more time.

Making your pitch memorable

A memorable message is possibly the most important aspect of an elevator pitch. Even if you’re over-qualified, an employer won’t call back or give you the time of day if your story is blander than plain white bread. Just like your resume, your story should make you stand above the rest. Personal branding is important in achieving that.

“Having that personal brand can help transform your discussion with employers into a consistent message,”
Goldberg said.

As important as knowing a potential employer is, knowing how the employer’s objectives align with your own is more important. Television and film producer Lynn Kouf often visited Cal Poly with her husband for career fairs and
networking events.

“[We’re] looking for people with interests in our work,” Kouf said. “The ones we remember are the ones who have an earnest passion and desire to do what they say they want to do.”

There is no substitute for genuine passion. Reflect on what you want to pursue before deciding who to approach. Kouf  also said that people leaving something like a business card with employers, helps to cement the student’s personality.

Your elevator pitch encompasses your entire recruitment strategy; your education, experience and personality all have to shine through. If done well, it can impress any employer and cement your personal brand with them.

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