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5 Elevator Pitches That Can Get a Veteran Hired

Conviction, confidence and authenticity are key

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Photo Illustration: Paul Spella; (Source: Getty Images (2))
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Getty Images/AARP

You can subscribe here to AARP Veteran Report, a free e-newsletter published every two weeks. If you have feedback or a story idea then please contact us here.

The elevator pitch — a succinct summary of your skill set, your achievements and what you’re looking to do — is a tried-and-true way to grab an employer’s attention.

A successful, convincing pitch — delivered matter-of-factly and with confidence — articulates why you should be a company’s next hire. It should last about as long as a short elevator ride (hence the name). If a pitch exceeds 30 seconds, it’s too long.

Above all else, keep it simple. Avoid jargon and acronyms, and make sure you don’t sound rehearsed — think bullet points rather than memorized sentences.

Take it from me, a former corporate recruiter: Here are five examples of effective elevator pitches.

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“I served in the Army for five years and rose to the rank of sergeant, managing a pay office. I’m an excellent leader and motivator. I’m meticulous with details. I’m interested in this accounting director position because it’s based on budgets and managing people — things I excelled at in uniform.”

Why it works: This statement immediately tells the listener you’re a veteran — companies are proactively hiring veterans and value your integrity, grit, experience and service to our country. It also stresses that your top traits are connected to the position available.

“I’m looking for a full-time office job in media relations — I’m based in Atlanta — where I can leverage my strong skills of perseverance and relationship building with the press that I honed in communications offices in the Navy.”

Why it works: You’re telling the employer where you want to work and explaining that you can ace this civilian job because you’ve already mastered a similar role in the Navy.

“Time management. Empathy. Compassion. This is who I am. I’m in alignment with your company culture of leading with kindness. My outstanding service and commitment to the Air Force prepared me for your management team.”

Why it works: This pitch mixes up the format and stands out because you’re starting with strengths that aren’t so much technical — instead, they’re human skills that are highly valued by employers. Rather than connecting those strengths to the specific role, you’re connecting them to the company culture. Hiring managers often extend job offers to candidates they feel are the right fit for the company as a whole.

“I was a logistician in the Marines. Before that, I worked as a realtor for five years. I’m completing my online MBA and did a one-on-one semester-long internship with my business professor. I’m a dedicated lifelong learner. When I don’t know something, I roll up my sleeves and figure it out.”

Why it works: You’re stating your role in the military, your prior experience and what you’re doing now to bring it full circle. Mentioning that you’re pursuing a relevant degree shows ambition and commitment. Emphasis on character is a plus.

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“I am a hard worker and a veteran of 10 years. This will be my first civilian job after the military. I love interacting with people — I’m very interested in this retail management role where the customer is always right. I worked retail in high school and am excited to get back to my roots. I speak Portuguese and Spanish, and I teach yoga in my spare time.

Why it works: You’re getting back to your roots, identifying your strengths, and articulating your passion (working with people) and your customer service philosophy. By mentioning your language skills and yoga, you’re highlighting important attributes that other candidates might not possess. Not only are these memorable, but if the interviewer also speaks Portuguese or Spanish and/or enjoys yoga, you will have an immediate point of connection for establishing a rapport.

Bottom line

Pick the elevator pitch style that suits your personality, and make sure you mean what you say. When you deliver an elevator pitch with conviction and confidence from a place of authenticity, it can be very compelling.

You can subscribe here to AARP Veteran Report, a free e-newsletter published every two weeks. If you have feedback or a story idea then please contact us here.

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