The unemployed’s elevator pitch for the holidays

Like you may have, I spent Thanksgiving weekend with family, first my wife’s side and then mine. I ate enough food for a mammal twice my size and watched large men in pads run into each other (because that’s what America is all about).

I also talked plenty about my recent layoff and what I’m going to do next. This was problematic for many reasons, two of which stand out…

  1. I’m sick of talking about my recent layoff.
  2. I don’t know what I want to do next.

I’ve decided what I need is a personal elevator pitch and conversation strategy for family that satisfies their concern and interest but gets the conversation on to another topic post haste – like who mom saw at the grocery store last week. And while I don’t need this until Christmas, there’s no time like the present (get it, present) to get started. So let’s…

The first step is to go online and pilfer someone else’s instructions for how to write a personal elevator pitch. From there, nationally certified resume writer and career marketing expert Michelle Dumas recommends we ask ourselves these questions (with my adjustments)…

  1. What is the focus of your search the conversation? What is your job target goal?
  2. Who is the person/people most likely to make a hiring decision about you you’ll be talking to?
  3. What are the problems faced by concerns of your target audience?
  4. What is it that you are offering can say that would solve these problems make them think of something else?
  5. What is it that differentiates you and makes you different from your peers interesting (and better than your cousin the doctor who makes six figures and saves babies everyday)?
  6. What are the benefits of your work unemployment as experienced by your target audience you?

And here are the answers, or at least how to find them…

  1. The conversation will likely focus on your unemployment, as news like this tends to get around in families. If the topic is something else, use your extensive conversation skills to talk about that. Since your goal is to avoid talking about your joblessness (and if you’re like me, get to the tray of Christmas cookies), you’re getting off easy this time around.
  2. You’re likely talking to a family member whom you only see on holidays and other special occasions. They’ll want to catch up on what’s happened since the last time they saw you, what you’ve been doing.
  3. They’re family, so I hope they’re concerned for your well-being. But they’re human and have things on their mind too – things they want to talk about and things they don’t. Pay attention for these. A topic could present itself.
  4. You’re unemployed, so you have plenty of time to watch TV and keep up with current events. You have no excuse not to know who got kicked off the island or chosen for Obama’s cabinet. But keep in mind that your relative may have a job and, therefore, less time to keep up with these things. Keep your topics pretty general (as if around a water cooler) until they show some knowledge and interest. And then get more specific. These specifics will anchor the conversation and keep it from moving on to your unemployment.
  5. There are plenty of things that make you interesting and worthwhile; not having a job doesn’t make you any less of a person. Maybe you’ve built shelves in the closet or read War and Peace in your extra free time. Maybe you’ve been training for the Ironman Triathlon or the World’s Strongest Man Competition (or at least watched them on TV). Focus the conversation on these things. Why you have all this extra free time will probably never be asked. As for your cousin the baby-saving doctor, he probably works 18-hour days and never sees his family, whereas you’re home all the time. Score one for you.
  6. If after all this, the conversation still arrives at your unemployment, you need an answer. Unemployment gives you the opportunity to find the perfect job. Unemployment lets you re-examine your career goals. Unemployment allows you to explore your passions in search of career opportunities. Don’t dwell on the negatives, discuss the positives. A tangent will soon reveal itself and lead the conversation off in another direction.

With the answers to these questions, we have enough to come up with a solid elevator pitch and conversation strategy that satisfies their curiosity and transitions the conversation on to another topic. If all this fails, excuse yourself to the bathroom and start a conversation with someone else after.

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One Comment

  1. Tina wrote:

    Ah Norm…you have the ability to slice through two years as if using a Henckel cleaver. It cuts deep and true.

    All the best to you and yours. May your post this time next year reflect better circumstances for all of us.

    Tuesday, November 23, 2010 at 11:04 pm | Permalink