commercialIt doesn’t matter what your position or career aspiration, you are going to find yourself in situations where you need to introduce yourself. Are you prepared? You may be responding, “of course I’m prepared, and who better to do the introduction but the person that knows me the best – ME!”   Well, that depends.

Research shows and my coaching experiences confirm it – individuals are often too self-conscious to really “toot their own horn.” It’s human nature, sharing your background and what you have to offer often makes individuals feel like they are “bragging” and become uncomfortable, and somewhat intimidated. The solution to overcoming this uncomfortable situation is to be prepared and practice with a 30-second commercial or an elevator script. The response is not actually 30-seconds; it’s referred to that way so you clearly and concisely cover the highlights of who you are and what you are fabulous at doing, all within a minute or two.

Here are a few tips:

What Situations Might Require a Self-Introduction?

  • Introducing yourself at a networking function, either with coworkers, clients, or strangers that have nothing to do with your position;
  • When meeting with a potential employer at a career fair;
  • Answering the usual “first” question in an employment or networking interview, “So tell me about yourself;” or
  • As an introduction in a cover letter, quickly highlighting your background and experience.

What You Should Include in a 30-Second Commercial?

You have to put your marketing hat on – you are the product on the shelf.  What does the buyer need to know about what you have to offer?  Be clear about what you need and then then engage with the reaction and probe further in-depth questions from the listener:

  • Who you are including points such as:
    • Where you are working, or last position;
    • Key roles and capabilities; and
    • A “short” story of how your career has led you to this industry, role, responsibilities, etc.
  • What you are looking for could be formulated towards:
    • A specific objective such as a career change;
    • Information relative to a new field of work you are interested in; and/or
    • Networking contacts in a particular field or company.
  • Based on your research, what you need from the person you are speaking with:
    • Guidance and support;
    • Contacts; or
    • Insights to the culture of a company you are interested in joining.

Here’s an example from my book, I Want That Job! to share what a 30-second commercial might sound like for someone in job search. The tone and pace are very conversational:

“Over these past 12 years, I have had a successful career with FnXpress. You may have heard that they are closing their office in Virginia next year, so I’m starting to do my research about where else my talents and interests could be useful.”

“During this period of time I was fortunate to have some tremendous opportunities to demonstrate my attention to detail, leadership strengths, and understanding of financial management, especially collecting bad debts. Coupling those key skills with my strong commitment to delivering excellent customer service resulted in my current position as Director of Bad Debt Collection. In this position I have been recognized five times for exceeding financial and customer service goals.”

“I started my career with FnXpress in New York where I grew up. I guess I naturally gravitated to the financial industry as both my parents were in banking. I was fortunate that those first few years brought many opportunities to expand and develop my expertise in retail sales. My career progressed in retail for about six years as I enjoyed developing high performing teams and leading change initiatives such as implementing computerized processes for keeping financial data safe from cyber-attacks.”

“Now I’d like to take my retail and corporate experiences, together with my MBA, and find a challenging leadership position in a finance department for a company such as SES or JUI, preferably within the state of Virginia, or at least somewhere in the Mid-Atlantic region, so I can be close to family.”

Practice, Practice, Practice

Although prepared in advance, the “commercial” should never sound memorized.  Appear confident, enthusiastic, poised, and professional. Make it memorable, but not outrageous. After practicing you’ll be able to insert new information relative to something you may know or learn about the listener – perhaps she is also from the town in NY where you were born.

When you have your script rehearsed, ask a trusted friend, who you know will give you honest feedback, to listen. After you finish, ask the friend for feedback and specifically what they learned about you using these questions:

  1. What did you learn about me?
  2. What sounded good and impressed you about my background, capabilities and/or experience?
  3. What part of my message should I eliminate or shorten?   Maybe I was rambling or you got lost in what I was trying to say.
  4. Was anything confusing, and/or disjointed with my message?
  5. If you were an employer, what else would you like to know about me that I forgot to mention?

Receive the feedback graciously. Don’t get defensive. Make tweaks to your script and practice until it is comes naturally and you are no longer reliant on notes.

Headshots_DebbieKing_2016_2This blog was written by Deborah A. King, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, and RCC.  Ms. King is CEO of Evolution Management, Inc.  She specializes in individual and organizational change, as well as Executive and Career Coaching. Debbie and the EMI team are energized about assisting individuals with career development and transition, as well as outplacement support.  Contact EMI for more information about how we can assist you or your organization: or 770.587.9032.