It's one thing to know you're good at what you do. It's quite another to persuade someone else without feeling like a total sleaze ball. In fact, it's one of the most common fears I hear from job seekers, small business owners, and pretty much anyone who needs to self-promote.
If this sounds like you, don't beat yourself up. It's tough to promote yourself, and very few of us come by this skill naturally. Hopefully this article can help.
In my work with clients, I've identified 4 necessary ingredients to tell a powerful and credible story about yourself and your experience that still feels accurate, authentic and human. They are:
- The problem your work solves. This isn't a description of what you do so much as an overview of how you help. If you're a Client Success Manager, for example, your work is all about delighting and retaining high-value clients. If you're a Sales Development Representative, you feed your company's sales engine with high-quality leads that ultimately drive revenue growth.
- Your biggest strength. What are you better at than most people you know (don't worry, you don't have to say that in your pitch!)? Is it telling stories? Creatively visualizing ideas? Organizing projects and keeping tasks on track? If you aren't sure what to say, ask your manager or a trusted colleague to share some of the strengths they've observed you display.
- Your most important value, as it relates to your work. I've found that the best way to approach this one is to think about what drives you crazy about your work right now. The things that bother us can point us to what we most care about. For example, it drives me crazy that so many people hate their jobs. I'm on a mission to help solve that. Other examples I've seen: poor cross-departmental communication (value: collaboration), same-old same-old thinking (value: creativity), rigid hierarchies and bureaucracy (value: agility) and unconscious bias in hiring and promotion decisions (value: inclusivity).
- A big accomplishment you're proud of. This is a way to make your strengths and values real. What is something you've done, preferably in your most recent role, that you feel incredibly proud of? Once again, if you're having trouble coming up with something, ask a manager or colleague.
The 1-minute pitch template
What does this actually look like in action? Here's a template to help you bring these 4 things come together in a pitch, all in about a minute. This example is designed for job seekers, but with a few tweaks, could be easily adapted to fit other situations.
I'm <name>, and I'm <job title> at <company>, a <short company description>. In my role here, I <problem you solve>. But I'm most proud of <big accomplishment that aligns with your strength and/or value>. When I joined <company>, <describe a challenge you were hired to solve>. Now, <describe outcome>. I'm proud to have helped <specific way you helped>.
Before <current company>, I held <your field> roles at <previous company> and <previous company>. When I look at my experience as a whole, the common thread is <value>. I truly believe that <value detail>. I also love <strength>, and I'm quite good at it. In my next role, I'm looking for the opportunity to <strength> for a company that aligns with my values, which is why I wanted to connect with you.
And here's a specific example drawn from my own work experience:
I'm Robin, and I'm VP Marketing at Jhana, a learning company dedicated to giving every employee a great manager. In my role here, I oversee every marketing function at the company, and my team contributes to 44% of new closed revenue. But I'm most proud of the strong brand my team and I helped build as a trusted source for engaging and high-quality leadership content . When I joined Jhana 3.5 years ago, no one knew who we were. Now, we're a well-respected brand serving tens of thousands of managers. I'm proud to have helped tell that story.
Before Jhana, I held senior marketing roles at a number of B2B SaaS companies including Mindjet, Optimal and Webtrends. When I look at my experience as a whole, the common thread is my obsession with helping people be happier at work. I truly believe that work should be a place where employees can thrive and be their best selves. I also love telling stories, and I'm quite good at it. In my next role, I'm looking for the opportunity to tell great stories for a company that aligns with my values, which is why I wanted to connect with you.
And there you have it! This template integrates your skills, accomplishments, values and strengths into a clear and compelling personal pitch, and it clocks in at approximately 1 minute (I timed it).
Notice how I emphasize my love and skill for storytelling throughout, as well as my dedication to helping people thrive at work. Those are the values and strengths I want to highlight. Try to do the same in your pitch.
One final reminder
Treat this template as a starting point, not an ending point.
Tweak it, massage it, shorten it, lengthen it and otherwise play around with it until it feels right for your unique story and situation.
And as always, let me know if I can help!