How to Prepare a Strong Elevator Pitch for Graduate Careers Fairs

Posted by GradConnection

A recent graduate at a careers fair might not find themselves in many elevators with employers but they might find themselves with the same amount of time. The few minutes between floors an elevator will give you might be all you get at the front of a busy line at a careers fair. That’s why having a professional, concise, and memorable elevator pitch is an important tool when going to a careers fair.

In this article we’ll explain the importance of elevator pitches. We’ll take you from first introductions, the meat and potatoes of your pitch, right through to bringing it home with follow through and follow up.

What is an elevator pitch?

Ever been on the internet and seen a TL;DR? Skim the first few sentences of a paragraph to get the gist of what’s to come? What about only reading the lead of a news article? The elevator pitch is that, but for you.

The purpose of an elevator pitch is to give someone a quick understanding of who you are, what you do, and what you’re after in no more time than it takes an elevator to go between floors or, at a careers fair, the few minutes you have at the front of a busy line.

Why is body language important?

An elevator pitch isn’t just about what you say but also how you present yourself. This is important because you’re constantly transmitting non-verbal communication cues. This is from how you’re dressed to how you carry yourself and much more.

For a careers fair it is encouraged that you dress in business casual and that you approach the recruiter alone. By doing this you look professional and confident from the outset unlike being in a group when first introducing yourself. That does not mean you have to go to the careers fair alone but instead that you break away from the group and then can reconvene in between booths.

Recent graduates should aim to approach with a smile, making eye contact, and not closing themselves off with crossed arms or not facing the recruiter when talking. Introducing yourself to the recruiter and shaking their hand before going into your elevator pitch will make the pitch feel more natural and make for a stronger first impression (plus it’s simply polite).

Non-verbal and verbal communication can be difficult but it is a skill that can be learned like anything else.

What does GNAP mean?

GNAP is the backbone of your elevator pitch. It stands for greeting, name, association, and purpose. By using GNAP you succinctly introduce yourself, your background, and why you’re approaching that recruiter specifically. Here’s an example:

“Good morning! I’m Mary Paige from Melbourne University. I’ve just graduated with a Bachelor of Engineering and wanted to talk to you a bit about the work culture at your company if that’s alright?”

From this succinct base you’re able to be flexible to make it feel more natural as well!

“Good morning, my name is Mary Paige. How are you? (response) I was reading up on the work culture of your company after I saw it in the fairs brochure and I had to come find you. I just finished studying for a Bachelor of Engineering at Melbourne University and I was hoping to talk a bit more with you about your company?”

As you can see a graduate can turn GNAP into a more fluid conversation that not only shows the research they’ve done before the careers fair but also their confidence driving the conversation. It can be a strong first impression that you’re then able to follow through and follow up on.

What is following through and following up?

Following through and following up is what happens after your initial elevator pitch where you’ve introduced yourself and what you’re about.

Following through is where your preparation for the careers fair shines. By asking well researched and thought out questions and having memorable answers for the recruiter you follow through on that strong initial impression. By being aware of common mistakes recent graduates make at careers fairs you’ll be able to prepare for and avoid them when talking with recruiters and employers.

Following up means reaching out to the recruiter or employer after the careers fair to turn that short term networking opportunity into a long term relationship. This might be in order to get a position at the company but also just to maintain connections across different industries that may come in handy during your career.

Why is practicing your elevator pitch important?

Practicing your elevator pitch is important for a simple reason: it makes the pitch more natural. Through practicing your pitch you’ll be more comfortable making you feel and talk more confidently and be able to act more flexibly depending on the recruiter. Through practice you’ll be able to adjust the elevator pitch for certain recruiters or with the fluid movement of the conversation.

You can practice your pitch with friends and family or even with AI tools designed to help recent graduates.

What’s our TL;DR?

The elevator pitch is your own TL;DR. It tells recruiters who you are, what your background is, and why you’re talking to them. Through a simple acronym such as GNAP you’re able to create a concise elevator pitch of yourself that you can then follow through on in well researched conversation and follow up on after the careers fair.

Find out more about how you can get a graduate job at a careers fair here.


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