"So Tell Me About Yourself . . . " Answering the Question with your Two-Minute Pitch
Your Two-Minute Pitch is the back-bone of your search--you'll use it in job and networking interviews, and in cover letters. You'll be ready when someone says, "So tell me about yourself."
Your resume summary statement serves as the starting point for your Two-Minute Pitch. Keep in mind:
- to whom you are pitching;
- in what they are interested;
- who your likely competitors are;
- and what you bring to the party that your competitors do not.
Don't tell your life story. Instead:
- let this person know that you are competent and interested in the area he or she is interested in.
- say things that are relevant.
- come across at the right level.
- Think through what you want to say to your target market--just as you did when you were developing the summary statement on your resume. Think about the person to whom you are talking.
Know Something About Them
If an interviewer immediately says: Tell me about yourself, how will you know how to position yourself? If you don't know anything about why they are interviewing you or the position they have in mind, you may say: I'd be happy to tell you about myself, but could you first tell me a little about the kind of work you do here?
What Point Are You Trying To Make?
Most people write their Two-Minute Pitch and rehearse it in front of a mirror. Say to yourself: "What point am I trying to make? What impression do I hope they'll get about me?"
Barbara had spent her life in the not-for-profit arena, and now wanted to teach grant writing. In her old pitch, she recounted the jobs she had held, and expected the listener to notice the parts of importance to them. When prodded, she admitted that the point she wanted to make was that she was seen as one of the best grant-writers in the country. Her new pitch, that she used in her cover letters, started like this:
Would you like to meet someone who is seen as one of the "best grant writers in the country," and is also an excellent trainer? I have been in the not-for-profit sector for almost two decades and have been able to attain grants for a variety of programs. For example, . . .
Ask yourself: What is the most important point I am trying to make? One client said, "I just want them to know that I have eighteen years experience in capital markets, whether it's in aerospace or petroleum, metals and mining, or real estate. My experience is in capital markets."
That's a great pitch. Why not tell them exactly that?
They Won't "Get It" on Their Own, So Just Tell Them.
Most job hunters think, "I'll tell him my background, and he'll see how it fits with his needs." Usually, he doesn't see. Think about the point you are trying to make, and say it. If you have a conclusion you would like him to make about you, tell him what it is. Don't expect the interviewer to figure it out.
If you want him to see how all of your jobs have somehow been involved in international, say: "All of my jobs have somehow been involved in international."
If you want her to notice you have always moved wherever the company wanted, say just that. If you want her to know you have done things sales executives rarely do, then tell her that. If you want her to see you have developed intensive product knowledge while handling various operations areas, say so.
Make your message so clear that if someone stops her and says, "Tell me about John," she will know what to tell the other person about you.
Two Minutes is a Long Time. Show Enthusiasm.
In this TV society, people are used to 15-second sound bites on the news. As the communicator, engage your listener. Reinforce your main points. Don't say too many things. Sound enthusiastic.
If you are not a lively person, the least you can do is sit forward in your chair, the enthusiastic person is most likely to get the job. And the enthusiastic one got to keep the job later--even over more qualified people. Employers kept people willing to do anything to help the company.
In addition to the job content, display enthusiasm. If you really want this job, act like it. It does not hurt your salary negotiation prospects.
As you practice, you will learn to see more of the job hunt process through the eyes of the "buyer"--the hiring manager. Instead of thinking only about yourself and what you want, think more about what the managers want and what you have that would be of interest to them.
In preparing for a meeting, use the "Summary of What I Have/Want to Offer," below. For each target area, you will need a different pitch--You will need to modify your pitch for various companies within that target. If your pitch never changes, you are not thinking enough about the person you are talking to.
Summary of What I Have/Want To Offer:
- Statement of why they should hire me (My "Two-Minute Pitch").
- 3-5 accomplishments that would be of interest to hiring managers in this position/industry.
- 3-6 personality traits appropriate to this position/industry.
- Other key selling points that may apply even indirectly to this industry or position.
- Any objection I'm afraid the interviewer may bring up, and how I will handle it.
Reprinted with permission The Five O'Clock Club, Inc. Kate Wendleton Author of “Targeting A Great Career” available online http://www.fiveoclockclub.com/publications1_index.shtml