To start with networking, it is important to have an understanding of what you can and can’t do. Make sure that you are able to present yourself in a short and powerful pitch.

The pitch originates from the idea that, when standing in an elevator, you could be joined by the employer of your dreams, hence ‘elevator pitch’. In the time it takes the elevator to reach the top floor, you have the possibility to pitch your qualities and convince him or her to invite you to a job interview.

When preparing to do so, it is important to know where you excel at and what you can contribute to a certain position or organisation. What is your added value, what makes you unique?

Write down your own pitch

A powerful pitch is a combination of various aspects that should distinguish you from other ‘competitors’ in the job market:

  • Motivation
  • Knowledge and skills
  • Work- and life experience
  • Qualities, characteristics and talents
  • Attitude and voice

Think about who you are, what you do, what you want and which value or advantage you can offer to an organisation.

An elevator pitch usually consists of 4-6 lines that you can tell in approximately 2 minutes.

Questions to help you write your own pitch:

  • What is my craft/profession/skill?
  • What do I want others to remember me for?
  • What do I like to do as a living? What motivates me at work?
  • What satisfies/energises me?
  • What are my qualities? Where do others compliment me on?
  • What do I want to learn?
  • Who am I helping?
  • Where do I want to contribute to and in what way?
  • When pitching, do I look excited?

Example pitch and template

Example pitch:

I am a cell biologist with a PhD in Neuroscience and postdoctoral experience in Immunology. My passion is to communicate science to different audiences, from fellow scientists to the general public. I enjoy breaking the complexity of scientific achievements into clear stories and leading people into Aha moments. Throughout my career I have used my written and graphic communication skills to obtain two competitive personal grants, the EMBO-LTF and the NWO-VENI, write my own review and original manuscripts and present my research in conferences. I have also coached other scientists in the process of writing and presenting their dream projects and discoveries with clarity and eagerness. Now, I am ready to transform my career and use my communication skills to contribute to Genmab’s success.

Template pitch:

“I’m a scientist specialising in… (field). My research focuses on … (major topic). Using … (research methods), I found … (major results) which is important to … (social context). I’ve learned …. (skills). My personal goal is to … (research ambition).”

Hand exercise

Use your hand to make an elevator pitch. Each finger represents a question that needs to be answered in order to develop a complete pitch:

  • Thumb: What am I good at?
  • Forefinger: Where do I want to go?
  • Middle finger: What do I not want to do anymore?
  • Ring finger: What is my passion; what thrives me?
  • Little finger: What do I have to develop?

Since these questions can be hard to answer at first, supporting and more direct questions were set up that can help you answer the main question:

THUMB | What am I good at?

  • You are in prison, what talent(s) can you use there?
  • In which sports or hobbies are your talents (clearly) visible?
  • What have you developed in comparison to others?
  • Which tasks and projects are you asked for and why?

FORE FINGER | Where do I want to go?

  • Which dream do you tend to keep postponing?
  • Imagine yourself winning 5 million euros. What deeds would that money lead you to?
  • What type of work would you be willing to do for a week for free?
  • If everything was possible, how would you like to live?

MIDDLE FINGER | What do I not want to do anymore?

  • You are in a selection committee: what do you pay attention to when hiring someone?
  • What activity would you stop with immediately, if it was possible?
  • What do you not want from your supervisor?
  • Work or private life? Why?

RING FINGER | What is my passion; what thrives me?

  • In which situations do you enjoy offering help?
  • If you could be a child again for one day, what would you do?
  • Which books or magazines do you enjoy reading and why?
  • Which famous person would you like to interview and about what?

LITTLE FINGER | What do I have to develop?

  • What is on your bucket list?
  • What is exciting for you/out of your comfort zone?
  • What developments do you see?
  • Who is a role model for you and why?
  • If you could pick any professional skill to master, which one would it be?

Practise your personal pitch

After creating your personal pitch, it’s time to practise it:

  • Practise your pitch until you know it by heart
  • Time yourself
  • Ask friends/colleagues/mentors/coaches for feedback on your pitch
  • Slowly expand your circle of practice to more important people and get used to presenting your pitch.

Don’t forget to regularly update your pitch and get used to integrating new information.

Tip: add your personal pitch as research statement into your AcademicTransfer profile, so Dutch academic employers get to know you as a researcher.