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Be The HERO Of Your Story

From Career Tips, 2007 Volume 3, March 2007


Do you have a compelling "2 Minute Pitch" to describe the package you bring to the table?

Your marketing pitch is critical to any career search, or for that matter any campaign to increase your visibility and influence. One variation vital to any interview is your "2 Minute Pitch."

This isn't called "2 minute" because it has to be that long, but rather because it should never be any longer than 2 minutes. No matter how interesting and varied your background, the longer the story, the less compelling it becomes. 2 minutes should be enough to give the listener the highlights, some strong hooks for follow-up questions and discussion, without leaving them wondering about your communication skills. And it meets a fundamental tenet of marketing: "Always leave them wanting to know more!" Your complete story will have much more impact when you are invited to share it, when the listener asks "tell me more about ...", vs. you simply doing a brain dump up front.

There are many ways to approach your "2 Minute Pitch," and let me share with you a template that I've found very successful in constructing a compelling story: HERO.

H = Headline
. This is your 1 or 2 sentence statement of what you bring to the table at the highest level. This ISN'T your career objective, and it should be focused on what you can do for the listener.

E = Experience. Instead of the reverse chronological order used in your resume, try going from the start of your career forward. You don't need to say a lot about your oldest jobs, and can even combine multiple companies / jobs into one sentence if they aren't all that critical to your story. Most importantly, be sure to include at least 2-3 accomplishment / result - oriented statements about jobs you've held, instead of focusing just on job titles or duties held.

R = Rest of qualifications. This is where those qualities you bring to the table can be brought into the story, if they aren't already covered in the "E" section - your leadership and negotiation skills, your ability to communicate technical subjects to non-technical audiences clearly, your creative and strong work ethic. Again, it's helpful if these are presented to the extent possible in terms of results you can produce because of those qualifications.

O= Objective. In an interview, this could be focused on exactly the opportunity you are there to discuss, or on where you want to be headed longer term, and why this job appears to be a great step to get there. In a networking meeting, it should be about your focused objective for your search or next step in your career.

The point of the HERO template is to give you a way to tell your story that's interesting, that flows and shows the progression in your career, and that leaves the listener with a number of promising places to ask follow up questions. And by keeping it to 2 minutes or less, it satisfies the "Leave them wanting to know more" criteria. Put this template to the test and make yourself the HERO of your own story!


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