An essential component of a job seeker's toolkit, along with a strong resume and an effective interview strategy, is a powerful elevator speech.
An elevator speech is a quick presentation about you (around thirty seconds long, or the length of a typical elevator ride) that's designed to capture the interest of a potential employer. Many job seekers make the mistake of including too many details in their elevator speeches, or emphasizing their own particular needs and goals in their pattern. But the way to cook up a memorable elevator speech that generates exceptional results requires a simple, secret ingredient: a tiny taste of delicious cheesecake.
Of course, the cheesecake you'd be serving would be figurative, not the actual pastry (although sharing a Junior's Devil's Food Special with a prospective hirer would certainly make an impression). The idea is to submit a sample of information that - like a bite of sweet cheesecake - is fresh, irresistible, and makes whoever you're speaking with want more.
For example, if you have a background in sales, you should avoid giving an elevator speech that's solely focused on what you're trying to achieve ("My name is Bob, I'm a software sales professional with 20 years of experience, and I'm looking for a job as a regional vice-president in a Fortune 500 firm."). Instead, you need to serve a cheesecake by dropping hints of the scrumptious advantages that your expertise can bring ("My name is Bob, I'm a software sales professional, and I'm offering my skills, experience, and contacts to a company that would want me to help them dramatically increase their profits and generate new streams of consistent revenue.")
The first elevator speech: yuck. The second yum-o!
The reason why approach #2 was so appetizing was because it promised a tantalizing business benefit that would be impossible for a potential employer to resist. (Other alluring benefits would be the opportunity to save an employer money or improve the employer's image in the marketplace.) For your elevator speech to be mouth-watering, it must include the promise of such a benefit. And if you can back up your cheesecake sample with facts of your ability to consistently deliver full-size portions, your prospective employer will want to dig in for more of the particulars.
Keep in mind that even the most delectable elevator speech isn't meant to close the deal: it's intended to open an opportunity. An ideal scenario would be for your elevator speech to lead to a request for a resume, which would then result in a formal interview.
Another important rule to remember is that while your elevator speech is about you, it's not all about you. In order for it to be convincing and captivating, it should be targeted to the unique goals, needs, and challenges of your prospective employer.
By including the right amount of cheesecake in your elevator speech, especially if it's the exact flavor of cheesecake that your potential employer has a weakness for (in the form of the precise benefits that your potential employer is looking for), you're guaranteed to hook them and move your job search to a higher and more scrumptious level.
Rafe Gomez is the author of WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME? A POWERFUL NEW INTERVIEW STRATEGY TO GET YOU HIRED IN TODAY'S CHALLENGING ECONOMY (available at therehirementcoach.com), a downloadable audiobook which offers an innovative new perspective on the interview process. He's presented his unique rehirement approach on MSNBC, Fox News Channel, PBS, NY1, and more. Follow his advice on Twitter @rehirementcoach.