En Route: A Career Blog

Pitching Yourself: 5 Practical Resume and Interview Tips for Job Seekers

AUTHOR: Darlene Zambruski
CATEGORY: , ,
POSTED: September 17, 2013 at 7:24 am

When you hear the word “pitch,” what comes to mind? In a world where our job market is saturated, the association with buzzwords in resumes or during interviews, without proven results of what you’ve done, is increasingly frowned upon. Some hiring managers and recruiters associate “pitch” with the guy at the networking event, martini in one hand and business card in the other, constantly trying to sell every person in the room on his supposed expertise. Perhaps you think of the speaker with a robust PowerPoint presentation, reading every word of the slides on the screen. In Silicon Valley, we often associate “pitching” with  entrepreneurs attempting to impress investors. Regardless of your place in the professional world, the idea of selling yourself is not something people typically look forward to. It can be especially difficult when you are looking for employment. Whether you are seeking your first job, transitioning into a new role, or exploring a new career, “selling yourself” can feel exhausting and contrived.

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However, what if the word “pitch” was viewed differently? As less of a sleazy business tactic, and more of a human story? The truth is, we work hard at creating interesting lives, taking chances, making sacrifices, and going after the jobs we hunger for. What if your pitch captured that vision, that passion, that story? I believe it can.

Don’t Let the Interview Throw You

Experience as a communications coach has shown me this is easier said than done. In any interview, you will be asked the dreaded questions, “What do you do?” And: “What have you done?” For most people, this is where things tend to fall apart. A majority of people either get shy, don’t want to seem like they are boasting, or ramble aimlessly. Therefore, people keep answers extremely short and disengaging, or talk for minutes on end, yet still leave the interviewer confused as to what was said. The truth is, this is your moment to shine, to leave the hiring manager begging you to come work for the company. This is a safe space for you to boast about your achievements and show off your brilliance.

How can we talk about years of rich experiences in less than one minute? Following these five simple steps has been helpful to my client base, as well as my own personal storytelling tactics and pitch development. These steps can be followed by recent college graduates or veteran professionals:

Identify the job you are going for

Write out the one to two sentences that you feel best describes the role you are seeking, or a brief mission statement you want your role to capture.

Mine is: (I was seeking to be the CEO and founder of my own company) My business helps individuals and companies craft their most compelling 30­-60 “pitch” and messaging around their idea. I then take that message, script it, and our video team creates a compelling one-minute HD promotional video, or “movie trailer” for your project or idea.

Identify why you want the job

Write out the one sentence that is the motivating factor behind your application for the role.

 Mine is: I believe that human beings are remarkable benefit creators and each story deserves to be shared with the world in the most concise and compelling way possible.

Identify why you are meant for the job

Make a list of your three top gifts, strengths, and talents.

Mine were: Outstanding public speaker, creative storyteller, master synthesizer of large amounts of information.

Establish relevant credibility

Make a list of your top three professional successes that are somewhat, even if only remotely, related to your current project (think broad and creatively here).

Mine were: Political speechwriter for Mayor Bloomberg’s Administration in NYC, creator of international human rights projects in South America and the Caribbean, and community organizing successes as I obtained a J.D. from the City University of New York School of Law.

Deliver

Combine steps one through four and pitch your way to perfection.

My pitch: I am the founder of a communications coaching and video production company. We help individuals and organizations share their story through a combination of professional message development and HD video production. As a political speechwriter in NYC and someone who has created projects internationally, I know how important a concise and compelling pitch is to continued progress of your project goals. I love storytelling and crafting compelling narratives. If I can help others share their journeys and professional dreams with the world, I am doing what I am meant to.

I urge you to have fun crafting your story, and when the interview begins, breathe and smile! You have worked hard to live an interesting life, and you believe in your capacity to be of benefit. So, tell the world where you’ve been, and where you are going. There are a whole lot of people in the world, but only one you. You deserve to share your story with the world. But let’s start with your next boss.