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The most important 30 seconds in a job search

It takes 30 seconds to get a job! Well, technically on average it takes 43 days from submitting an application to receiving a job offer but within those 43 days there are 30 seconds that are the most important. (Don't worry, you don't have to do those 30 seconds of work all at the same time!)

Networking - 20 seconds.

A recent survey found that 80% of jobs are found through networking. Step one is connecting with people who might be able to help. Step two (and the most important part) is to give them your 20 second elevator pitch. It doesn't matter how good the connection is if they don't walk away knowing (a) what your superpowers are and (b) how you can use those superpowers to help other people.

An "elevator pitch" is a 20 second spiel designed to sell something. The name comes from the idea of bumping into a key decision maker in an elevator and trying and sell them on an idea by the time they reach their floor. Elevator pitches are traditionally considered a tool to pitch products but they are just as effective at pitching people as well.

It takes some serious thought to write a good elevator pitch because you have to really know what you want. Vague, generic, elevator pitches rarely work because you need the other person to walk away with some specific ideas about you.

This is how to create an elevator pitch.
  • Start with a one line explaining who you are.
  • Then describe what you do.
  • Move on to what kind of company you want to work for.
  • Explain what is unique about you.
  • Finally, tell them what you want to happen next.
An example would be: "Hi, I am Sam. I am an experienced accountant with 20 years of experience working for a big 4 company. I am looking to move to a local business in the metro area. I really want to use my tax experience to help a company maximize their investments. Do you know anyone I should talk to?"

Once you have your elevator pitch written out, share it with some trusted advisers and get their feedback on it. When you have finalized it, practice at home until you are comfortable and then set yourself a goal of using it at least once every day. The more you use it, the more natural it will become.

So, who should you give your elevator pitch to? The short answer is everyone! Some specific examples are:
  • Former colleagues.
  • Current colleagues (if appropriate.)
  • Friends.
  • Family.
  • Fellow club members.
  • Friends of friends (or friends of colleagues) at companies you apply to.
  • People you meet at social events (or anywhere for that matter.
If you don't feel comfortable just blurting out your elevator pitch try one of these conversation starters.

"What line of work are you in?"

"What brought you here today."

"Do you mind if I join you here where it's a bit quieter?"

"How long have you been with the organization?"

"How are things in your department?"

"That looks good. Where did you find it?"

Once you have got the conversation started, make sure to share your elevator pitch with them. A 20 second elevator pitch to the right person will land you a job. You just never know who the right person is until after the fact so share your elevator pitch with everyone!

Resume - 7 seconds

Congratulations, thanks to your brilliant elevator pitch someone is going to look at your resume.!Your resume is arguably the most important document in the job application process. It is what will convince a recruiter to bring you in for an interview - or pass on your application immediately. On average a recruiter spends just 7 seconds looking at a resume before deciding whether the candidate is a good fit for the role.

There are a few things you can do to help your resume stand out.

Tailor your resume to the job you are applying for.

Adapt your resume for each position you are applying for. Use the same terminology as the job description. The recruiter may not know the technical ins and outs of the job. They need to see word matches to realize you have relevant skills. Your resume may also go through a computerized Applicant Tracking System - and computers are dumb. Lastly, take out irrelevant information so the reader sees the most important information in those 7 seconds.

List skills at the top

Make sure the most important information about your application is the first thing the recruiter sees. List your relevant skills. This is a quick and easy, as well as very effective way, to tailor your resume to ensure the recruiter knows you are a good fit for the job. This is also an opportunity to add keywords to help your resume get through the Applicant Tracking System.

Get someone to proof read your resume

You cannot proof read your own work, your mind will skip over the errors because it knows what it is supposed to say.Get someone else to proof read your resume. One typo or mistake can send your application straight to the "no" pile. An error-proof resume shows you are detailed oriented.

Interview - 3 seconds

Research shows that within 7 seconds people will have a solid impression of who they think you are. Once that impression has been made it takes weeks or even months to change that impression. You probably won't be in an interview for weeks so you have to make those 3 seconds really count! The good news is there have been hundreds of studies in to making good first impressions.

Good eye contact

Studies have found job candidates who make strong, lasting eye contact when meeting their interviewer were offered jobs more often. Eye contact is viewed as a sign of self-confidence which triggers the brain’s trust response. Don't over do it though, it is best to look someone in the eye when you greet them and then return regularly to short but noticeable lengths of eye contact.

Strong hand shake

A recent study found that candidates with firm handshakes were viewed more favorably. A good handshake should be firm, but not hand-crushing. Its also good to make sure your hand is warm and dry. Warm hands are give the impression of a warm personality. Dry hands aren't sweaty and not sweaty makes you seem calm and confident.

Authoritative voice

Make your voice sound more authoritative. Lower tones and dynamic volumes have been found to convey authority. As you practice your interview answers beforehand make sure to practice your voice too.

Similar dress style

People like people like themselves. One of the first signs that someone is like us is what they are wearing. It is often said that you should dress to impress but in an interview you want to give the impression that you are similar to the person interviewing you, not better than them. Ask your recruiter what the dress code is at the office beforehand. If you have time you can also take a trip to the location and look at what most people are wearing.

Tall, open posture

Stand tall with an open posture. Keep your chin up, your arms at your side and your back straight. These are all signals that you are a warm and friendly person. On the other hand, hunching over and give the impression you lack confidence or have something to hide.


So there you go, the 30 most important seconds of your job search are your elevator pitch, your resume and your first impression in an interview. Spend some time perfecting those seconds and increase your chances of landing a job!

A career coach can help you with the most critical parts of your job search.

You might also be interested in reading: How to answer "Tell me about yourself."