You need an elevator pitch!
I was speaking with a retiring Veteran of the United States Marine Corps the other night when it hit me! I have worked with 100s of prospective PMP candidates helping them translate their experience into project management speak for the PMP application. They then use this newly acquired skill to translate their resume content as well so they can present themselves as project managers. However, and here comes the realization, it isn’t enough!
In today’s highly competitive world, you can’t assume the reader of your resume sees the value you bring them. Heck, you can’t even assume they read it! It’s a Twitter world. You’ve got 140 characters or less to make them realize they are holding their next interviewee. If you don’t, the resume chocked full o’ awesome project management experience that follows is never seen, much less appreciated, and much less acted on.
As Seth Godin famously put it, it’s not about E-Mail anymore, it’s about Me-Mail (5:48 in this video)! They have to see how you can help them, or they go to the next resume. The old-school days of “Here’s me and all the stuff I’ve done in the past” are gone. You still need the content, but you need a story that clearly and consistently delivers and reinforces the message you can help them throughout your resume. They’re the main character, not you. You need to deliver a powerful Employer-centric Value Proposition.
What is an Employer-centric Value Proposition (EVP)?
The EVP is the opener of your story of how you provide value to the employer. It’s the inside jacket content that draws them into each chapter because they’re excited to read your story. It’s the promise you’ll fulfill in the remainder of your resume.
It is a Twitter-esque ‘headline’ statement of 140 characters or less. In that extremely limited, precious real estate, you have to clearly state who you are, and what you can do for them. In one sentence.
It tells who you are professionally, and what you can do and who you can do it for.
If you are my audience, you know it! You see yourself and your needs in it. It’s that way on purpose. Down to every last punctuation mark and space. Just as importantly, you also now know whether you should keep reading or not to see how I can help you.
Who I am isn’t as important as who you are and what you need. I’m only important in that moment if you see how I can help you. That’s the question an EVP answers, clearly, and concisely, “Can this person help me?” Your answer to this employer is your Employer-centric Value Proposition.
How do I write an EVP?
Using a tool called the Message Map. This simple, incredibly powerful tool will help you do just that. It will also help you re-message your LinkedIn profile, your resume; your projects at work; your proposals you make at the PTA, your local charity, Chamber, or Rotary; or in your place of worship. It will help you sell yourself and your ideas in boardrooms, meeting rooms, and in relationships.
The reality is we are always pitching ourselves, it’s just many of us do it unconsciously. And, if we do engage in it consciously, it’s hard because we’ve been taught not to brag. Making a clear statement of how you can add value to others is not bragging though, and, even if you do, they won’t notice. They’ll only hear how you being you helps them. So, if we’re pitching ourselves all the time everywhere anyway, we might as well get really good at it!’
How do I get really good at it?
Using the Message Map (MM) to help you craft your EVP. You’ll be able to deliver it in the elevator in 15 seconds, or in 140 characters! Regardless of where, you’ll always have a ‘sound bite’ ready to go that your receiver will catch if they’re your audience. Once you’ve got the main EVP for your resume, rinse and repeat for each position you’ve held. Think about the position, what is the main thing you and your experience, knowledge, skills, and abilities did for the organization in that position?
Remember, each statement is one sentence of 140 characters or less. Place this ‘headline’ under the standard Title, Dates From and To, Address. Then make sure every bullet following it supports it. These are the supporting ‘chapters’ of your story. The consistently reinforce your primary EVP.
Linking each bullet to each micro-EVP supports it. Linking each secondary micro-EVP statement to the primary overarching EVP supports your big, hairy, audacious claim of value. That’s good. It’s tight. It’s clear. It’s attention grabbing. It’s cohesive. It punches the reader in the proverbial nose if you will, startling them into seeing clearly the take away message you want them to have, and making it more likely they’ll do exactly what you want them to do, call you for the interview.
As the Veterans working with me know, I am a BIG fan of job aids. Here’s one to help you get good at using the MM. Please copy it and use it. Make copies of it for your co-workers. Practice with it. Time yourself to deliver the first level within 15 seconds, just like the master showing us the tool! It’s very cool when Gallo does this! Also time yourself when adding the second level to it, for a total 30 seconds! When you’re done, you’ll be ready for any elevator!
Another thing many Staffers, Team Members, and Students that have worked with me know about me is that I am a HUGE advocate of tools that produce a lot of bang for buck, i.e. they are simple, scalable to any situation, and plug-and-play across many different situations.
For example, you can deliver the 15 second pitch of yourself to anyone during a handshake, or standing in a 12-item-or-less check-out line, or at a coffee counter. If it’s done right, they get it as soon as you say it, they see the value you bring. If they are your audience, what do you think they do next? Right! They ask questions like ‘How do you do that?’ or make statements like ‘That’s interesting.’ If they do, scale quickly to the growing length of the engagement by adding the supporting statements, and wrap it up with a nice conclusion, i.e. the impact or outcome.
Additionally, once you’ve got your EVP down cold, guess what, you can plug-and-play-it in your resume as discussed, or your LinkedIn profile, or your Facebook page, or your presentations, whichever social platform you choose. You can also plug it into the mother of all social platforms, human exchanges over handshakes (see above example)! And, you’ll do it with comfort and ease, because now it’s old hat, it’s instinctive.
A Message Map in action!
The Message Map can help you craft a powerful Employer-centric Value Proposition you can use to pitch yourself to anyone in just 15 seconds (headline). Yes, this Twitter-esque headline is exactly 140 characters long, including spaces and punctuation, and takes about 11 seconds to say.
Taking it out to 30 seconds, It helps you organize your thoughts; focusing their energy into a clear statement of how you can help the receiver solve their problems; which can land you in a conversation or interview about how you could help them solve their current needs (three supporting points). Ultimately, that’s why managers hire people (conclusion). Using the headline, plus three supporting points, and a concise conclusion, I just pitched you the value of using the MM to help you craft your EVP so you can land your dream C (career). All in just 27 seconds.
Eric Wright is a Military Veteran; Co-Founder of Vets2PM; an experienced, credentialed project manager/mentor; and an entertaining professor/trainer/public speaker on project management, PMI’s Project Management Professional (PMP) exam, and on project manager development. He helps Military Veterans become Project Managers.