5 Tips for Delivering the Perfect Elevator Pitch By: Yudy Pineiro

An effective elevator pitch could be the difference between a new connection and a lost opportunity.

You’ve heard the questions before: “What do you do for work?” “What is your business about?” Questions like these could lead to your next job or client, but only if you’re prepared to deliver a good elevator pitch.

An elevator pitch is similar to a personal selling statement, yet different from a sales pitch because it’s more of a conversation starter. A good pitch lasts between 15 and 45 seconds — about the length of an elevator ride (which is partly how it got its name).

Whether you’re standing in the elevator, walking down the hall, or meeting someone new at a networking event, you are faced with a limited amount of time to make a connection. Good elevator pitches should be interesting, brief, and memorable. They should also be flexible — given that they’re meant to be conversational and informal, be sure to make room for questions and answers. Prior to drafting your pitch, consider your objective. Are you promoting your organization, pitching an idea, or looking for a new job? All of these would require different scripts. You might also want to consider who your target audience is, what problems they have, and how your product or service can fix them. Regardless of your objective, the techniques for drafting a successful elevator pitch are the same. Below are some guidelines.

Capture their attention

Answer the question: Who are you? Introduce yourself and note your credentials such as your major or degree. If possible, reference something that differentiates you from your peers, such as technical training. The start of a conversation is also the perfect time to establish a relationship. So if you happen to know you went to the same college or worked at the same firm as the individual, mention it at the beginning. This will ensure that you capture the person’s attention.

Note your career or business goals and experience

Once you’ve completed initial introductions, draft a short, one-sentence story that answers the question: What do you/your business do? If your job title is broad or highly specialized, provide a description instead. When the person understands your role and goals, then he or she is in a better position to help you or possibly connect you to someone who can. Because time is limited during an elevator pitch, it’s important to avoid getting bogged down in detail. The key here is to make sure your story highlights what you can do for your listener, the value you can deliver in the role, or the problems you can solve. In another sentence, emphasize your interest or experience in the field. Avoid making fluffy statements such as “I’m passionate about working with children.” Instead offer something concrete, along the lines of “I’ve taken childcare courses and volunteered at the local day care.”

Point to qualifications

To make a successful elevator pitch, you’ll also want to point to your qualifications. Now is the time to share information about some combination of your leadership, experience, achievements, expertise, skills, and strengths. Answer the questions: What makes you qualified to do your job/run your business, and how long have you been doing it? If you’re a new graduate, point to your college major. If not, leave it out. If you’re affiliated with industry organizations or have specialized certifications, make a note of it to your listener.

Highlight unique qualities

After establishing your background and goals, you’ll want to point to any qualities, experiences, or achievements that make you stand out. That person may already know somebody with 15 years of experience in childcare, so what makes you such a catch? Perhaps you volunteered in overseas schools, learning how to care for impoverished, underprivileged children. Or maybe you have extensive knowledge in child psychology that would allow you to identify and support children with psychological issues. Consider what special niche or extensive knowledge you can share with your contact that will set you apart from the rest.

Ask a question

As you close your elevator pitch, make sure to ask an open-ended question that allows the individual to answer. This can help engage the person in a longer conversation. For example: “If you have some time, I would love to meet with you in person to hear more about your organization and any opportunities.” Or, you can say something like, “Would you be able to put me in contact with the person in charge of business development so I can tell them more about what I can offer your company?” And, of course, be sure to ask for a business card so you can follow up.

Practice, practice, practice

Take your time to craft your pitch. Practice it aloud and time it to make sure it’s short enough. If you can, practice with friends to gauge their thoughts. Cut out anything that’s unnecessary. Remember, your pitch needs to be short and engaging. You don’t have to share every unique aspect of your job or every accomplishment, just enough to pique interest from the other person and land you a follow-up meeting. Most people will go through multiple drafts before settling on the words that are just right.

Be enthusiastic and smile when delivering your pitch. You should also sound natural, not rehearsed — people can tell if you really love what you do and believe in what you’re saying or if you’re just trying to sell them on your idea by delivering a rehearsed pitch. Practice in front of a mirror and practice regularly; your elevator pitch should be committed to memory so you can use it at any time.

As you practice delivering your elevator pitch, monitor your body language. Crossing your arms, fidgeting, or using distracting hand gestures can weaken the impression you make, so take care to ensure that you look as confident as you sound.

Good news is, the more you practice, the easier it will become to remember all the elements so you can sound off a stellar elevator pitch at any given moment. Also, don’t forget to be flexible. You may even consider creating different pitches for different audiences. At the very least, be open to making changes depending on the conversation and the person you’re speaking with. It’s alright to vary your words as long as the message — and end results — are the same.

Below are some fill-in-the-blank elevator pitches to get you started. Modify these as appropriate and incorporate the additional elements discussed above.

Elevator Pitch Example #1

Do you know how many people [the main problem your clients have]? Well, what I do is [briefly explain the solution you provide]. I’m a(n) [__________] with [experience/qualifications], and I specialize in [__________].

Elevator Pitch Example #2

I’m [name] and I provide/help/serve [target audience] with [product or service]. It helps/is a solution for [problem] and allows them to achieve [desire].

Elevator pitches may not be the easiest things, but once you have them down you’ll be making connections like a pro.

Navigating a Career Fair

Prepare, Plan and Execute

What is in a Career Fair?

Opportunity, Networking, Information, the ability to generate leads and more.

Make the most of it!

Things to Do Before the Fair:

  1. Review the list of Employers
  2. Do your research -know the products, services, clients served, etc. Review their websites. Make a cheat-sheet if you want.
  3. Dress Appropriately – Professional and clean
  4. Bring your resume – make several copies
  5. Practice your elevator speech (introduction) SMILING Required! Be aware of your body language. You will never get a second chance to make a first impression.
  6. Determine your expectations (you are generating leads, developing your network and expanding your communication skills) You will be selling yourself in a face to face conversation.
  7. Create your own strategy
    • Who do you really want to talk with? Would you wait in line to talk with this organization?
    • Which organization would you want to just obtain information from?
  8.  Be positive, confident and put your best foot forward
  9. Make a list of questions beforehand
    • What can you tell me about the positions you are looking to fill?
    • Do you have a written job description I could take with me?
    • May I take literature on your organization?
    • Can you recommend any one I should contact to obtain more information?

During the Fair:

  1. Survey the set-up – determine your key employers and have a game plan.
  2. Approach as many employers as you can
  3. Observe the organization’s representative – Are they professional? How are they treating potential candidates? Are they paying attention to you? Remember, as much as the organization’s might be “interviewing” you, you also can observe and “interview” them.
  4. After talking with the representative, ask for a business card and make any notes on the back to help you remember and for potential future correspondence.
  5. Be polite and give others room
  6. Think about your “fit” with the different organizations. Do you have a personal values statement? Does it match or fit in with theirs?

 After the Fair:

  • Take inventory – How did it go? What did you learn? What improvements could you make? What would you di differently the next time?
  • Review the literature you obtained – research the websites and seek more information if applying for a job. Connect on LinkedIn.
  • Decide what follow-up is appropriate for you – a hand-written thank you note, an updated resume, writing sample, reference list or anything the representative might request


Successfully attend a Job Fair

When you’re job searching, take some time to attend job fairs. You’ll have the opportunity to meet with employers that you might not be able to access any other way. Plus, job fairs and career expos often offer networking programs, resume reviews, and workshops for job seekers.

What can you do to compete with the crowds attending job fairs? These tips will help you get ready to attend and maximize your opportunities while you’re there.

  • Dress for Success. Attend the job fair dressed for success in professional interview attire, and carry a portfolio. However, do wear comfortable shoes, because you will be standing in line.
  • Practice a Pitch. Practice a quick pitch summarizing your skills and experience so you’re ready to promote your candidacy to prospective employers.
  • Bring Supplies. Bring extra copies of your resume, pens, a notepad, and business cards with your name, your email address, and cell phone number. You might also want to consider bringing “mini resume” cards as an efficient way to sum up your candidacy.
  • Check Out Companies. Many job fairs and career expos have information on participating companies on the job fair web site. Be prepared to talk to hiring managers by checking out the company’s web site, mission, open positions, and general information before you go. If you demonstrate knowledge about each company or manager you’re talking to, you’ll certainly stand out from the crowd.
  • Arrive Early. Keep in mind that lines can be long, so arrive early – before the fair officially opens.
  • Attend a Workshop. If the job fair has workshops or seminars, attend them. In addition to getting job search advice, you’ll have more opportunities to network.
  • Network. While you are waiting in line, talk to others. You never know who might be able to help with your job search. Along the same lines, remember to stay polite and professional. Even if you’re feeling discouraged in your job search, don’t vent to other fair-goers about your situation or about any specific companies. Stay positive and make the most of the opportunity!
  • Show Initiative. Shake hands and introduce yourself to recruiters when you reach the table. Demonstrate your interest in the company and their job opportunities.
  • Be Enthusiastic. Employer surveys identify one of the most important personal attributes candidates can bring to a new position as enthusiasm. This means that employers want to see you smile!
  • Ask Questions. Have some questions ready for the company representatives. The more you engage them, the better impression you’ll make.
  • Collect Business Cards. Collect business cards, so you have the contact information for the people you have spoken with.
  • Take Notes. It’s hard to keep track when you’re meeting with multiple employers in a busy environment. Jot down notes on the back of the business cards you have collected or on your notepad, so you have a reminder of who you spoke to about what.
  • Say Thank You. Take the time to send a brief follow up thank you note or email to the company representatives you met at the job fair. It’s a good way to reiterate your interest in the company and to remind company representatives that you’re a strong candidate.

By: Alison Doyle

Believe in Yourself

What a week.  Among other things, I unwillingly (not unwittingly) participated in an online  forum discussion, because I could not keep my hands off the subject.

The forum was/is populated by professional people–all sorts of professions, even including writerly types such as myself. (…not considered to be “professional” by many suits.  Ah, well.)

The particular forum topic–oh, I tried to stay away, for as long as I could–but the subject line asked us to agree with the posting person, who stated that people who believe in themselves–basically are tools.   The question was couched in such a way that it was almost impossible to argue against the concept–and not look like a whiner.

But this notion, that people who “believe in themselves” somehow are broken–well, the statement was a tad vague.  I needed to ask why, and the context.  The posting person responded that Saturday Night Live did a skit recently, in which mindless people were reciting the mantra that they can do anything, that they believe in themselves–over and over again.  One such man did so while doing calligraphy and Ceili dancing at the same time.

Apparently this was supposed to be funny–it’s always a good time to make fun of people whom you deem to be weird.  Or different.

Or maybe–just maybe–you’re jealous of them.   This, I believe, may be the situation with the person who posted.  I say this because I asked what was wrong with people having self esteem, and belief in one’s ability to strive, to do, to succeed?

She responded that she “railed against people” who think they can do anything, without doing any of the hard work.

OK, now we were on to something.  My first response was that I didn’t understand that concept of “rail[-ing] against”  people we don’t know.  I can see railing against a concept:  it is perfectly legit, and cool, and needed–to rail against injustice.  Or the -isms (racism, sexism, etc.)   To rail against the idea of secretaries  paying more taxes than billionaires.

All these bad things need to be the subject of railing-against.

But a person?  A stranger?   That someone–who, by her photo, looked to be tres professional, and very together–that someone should rail against people who have an affirmation, that they believe in themselves, and their ability to do anything to which they set their minds?

That, to me, sounds like outright jealousy.  I’m guessing that anyone who would rail against a person simply because that person has the mind of a dreamer–is jealous because they don’t have the guts to dream.  She may be a great worker bee, and that’s her thing–but her dreamlife may be lacking, sorely.

Yes, work is required in order to achieve anything worth having.  But this woman kept reciting the need for “hard work,” when, in fact, it may not be very hard work for the person who has a goal that’s based on deep self-knowledge.

She cited that those who simply believe in themselves absolutely are not willing to do the “hard work” necessary.

That argument is ridiculous, on its face.  Since this person doesn’t know everyone on the planet–it’s impossible for her to pronounce that anyone who believes in their ability to do anything  is unwilling to do the (hard) work to achieve that thing.  She doesn’t know that for sure–so for her to rail against people because she believes that she understands that they’re lazy slobs…this, to me, is beyond odd.

That this forum found a place on a website designed for professionals of all stripes is just plain weird, to me.  This seems to be a personal issue:  this woman may not be very secure in herself or her path–so she needed to try to rustle up some allies, people who similarly might sit back and laugh at the dreamers, those who say, “I can do anything to which I set my mind and heart.”

Well, here’s a shot of reality for you:  it’s OK.  

You may find yourself on the wrong end of the pink slip–you may have just lost your job.  You may have been unemployed for a long time, and are at that point where you want to scream because every-other-person you know is calling, asking the seemingly-benign question,

“…Have you thought of…?”

You want to rip the phone out of the wall, and think that the questioner will feel the shockwave.  They don’t know, or just-plain didn’t think, about the fact that they are the 100th person to ask that stupid question of you this week.  And that, by the time they ask the question–you’re ready to give someone a good beat-down.

So here’s what you do.   Ignore what everyone else says:  about you, about your job search, about your future–unless their words are encouraging, uplifting and accurate.

You may choose not to answer the phone, or respond to emails.  You may take a mini-vacation from technology,and from all the people who want to “help.”

And you absolutely must believe that this moment in time, this pain that you endure right now–is temporary.  You must believe that you are wonderful, and intelligent, and creative, andworthy of respect.

The world dissed you, your employers dissed you–and in the corporate mindset–that is the pronunciation of Fact.

Well, here’s the Truth:  the opinion of a former employer, a former HR director–anyone who would let you go, for whatever reason–their opinion is invalid, and cannot change the fact that your future can be as bright as you believe.

You don’t think that they allow their entire self esteems hang on your opinion of them, do you?  Of course not–so why should you give a flying fig about their opinion of you?

That woman on that forum is wrong:  people who believe in themselves, genuinely believe that they can do anything to which they set their minds–they/you/we/I–are the people on whom the  world depends to show the way to mental health.

Self-belief, healthy self-esteem, is a good thing, not a bad thing.  

Those with poor self esteem can be manipulated into doing anything–illegal, immoral or just plain stupid–by bosses, co-workers, former employers, spouses, friends–because they don’t believe that their opinion possibly could be right.  The other person in the scenario always must be right–because, having no self-love–without self-esteem, we cannot imagine that it might be OK, desirable, even, for us to speak up.

Healthy self-esteem–believing in yourself–not only is OK, it’s essential for you to get through this rough time.  Whether you’re newly-unemployed; unemployed for a long time; employed, but not making enough to make ends meet–whatever your situation, if it’s not what you desire–YOU have the ability to change it.

The next steps are yours, your Life is not in the control of some horrible person who doesn’t respect you–and therefore, who doesn’t deserve your respect.

The first step to changing the situation really does begin with believing in yourself.  If you don’t believe in yourself–no one else will.  But never mind them–they’ll come along for the ride, or they won’t–but they don’t matter.

The stairway to your destiny is built of the materials that you bring to the party, and the most important material is you.

If you don’t believe in yourself–or even like yourself very much, right now, that’s OK.   Start slowly, and build to a warm, glowing fire.  Yes, you may need to do things like affirmations, saying in to the mirror at least once a day, “I believe in myself–I will survive this situation.”  That may sound a little trite at the moment, but whatever words you choose–say something to yourself, at least once a day, while looking into your own eyes.  The eyes are the windows of the soul–and that includes you.  Gaze into your own eyes,  and see your ancestors there.  See all the love that they have for you.  See all the work, and fighting, and Life that they went through–just so that you could exist, to live, to be happy–this day.

I may sound like a self-help wannabe today, but I believe with all my heart that every human deserves to be respected, and loved.  If you’re not finding that in your workplace–leave that place, and find a job where you are respected.  If you’ve lost your job, and are searching for your next job, your career, or even–gasp!–your vocation–please remember that you deserve respect.  Respect from  your next employer, respect from your next co-workers, respect from your family and friends.

And that first, in order to get the respect that you require–you have to respect yourself, and all the goodness that you bring to the world.  You really can do anything to which you set your mind–contrary to what that woman wrote in that forum–you can, and you must, believe in yourself.

Acquiring your next job may be a long journey, but if you walk into every circumstance with your head held high, your heart honest and your intentions pure–the right situation will find you.  It may take a while, but just like Love–the real thing is worth the wait.  You are worth the wait–and the faith in self, that’s required to make your next job move a wonderful step.

It will be wonderful because you didn’t act out of desperation–desperation is the act of someone who doesn’t have a firm grasp on his/her self-esteem.  Whether you call it self-esteem, belief in yourself or faith–look at you, look within, before you go back out into the scary world, looking for a job.

How you present yourself to the world depends entirely on who you saw in the mirror before you walked out your door.  See that person.  Believe in that person–now, dream big, as big as your self-belief will allow.  It’s OK if others are jealous of your new-found self, or of all the grand things you achieve as the result.  Your opinion of you is the one that matters.

If you believe in yourself, and you see your future through the lens of someone whose healthy self-esteem charts the course–”they” (You know, the nameless, faceless Others who are always being quoted?)–”they” cannot extinguish that fire, that warmth, that is uniquely You.


You may have lost a job recently, or been laid off of a job that you’ve held for many years.  The first couple of days may seem OK, but then the reality hits you in the forehead, like an arrow hitting the bull’s eye.  However you ended up on the wrong end of the realm of employment–you’re there, and you may feel very isolated, alone and unwanted.

Please know, first, that you are not the first to feel this way, and you won’t be the last.  I know, that’s cold comfort when you have bills to pay and self esteem to restore.  But it may be that, whether you were laid off because of the economy or office politics–however you got here, you can get out.

And you can get out by finding another job–yes, a job to tide you over may be the ticket.  But this new status, unemployed, can turn into self-employed once you get your bearings.  Sure, go out and take a job for the cash–not a career move, just a “plain old job.”   And during the time that you’re doing this job (and we should always do whatever job we do to the best of our abilities–we owe it to our bosses, but even more–to ourselves)–but during the period of time that you’re working at something that doesn’t thrill you–that doesn’t utilize your talents, education or passion–you can spend your nights, weekends and other free time reinventingyourself.

I maintain that necessity is the Mother of Reinvention.  This new place in your life is supposed to make you feel rotten:   unemployment or underemployment is designed to bash self esteem, and make us feel lousy about ourselves.  But we can be conquerors, and refuse to accept that social stigma.  Whether you remain unemployed for a while, or get a job that has nothing to do with your dreams and goals–you can use that time–the time that you’d otherwise use that fine brain of yours at your previous career–you can use that time to think, truly, deeply, think about what you want to do next.

It may not seem like there is  a Next–but there is.  And “the beauty part of it,” as my late, great Uncle Ed would say–is that this time, you can be the captain of your ship.

Take a few minutes to sit down with yourself.  Cup of coffee or tea, a nice quiet place where you feel safe and nurtured.  Hopefully your cat or dog is there, looking up at you with the eyes of love.  OK–got the scene?  You’re in a safe place, and you are prepared to map out the next step in your Life.

And that step can turn into The Best Thing that’s ever happened to you–because you are deciding the course that’s sailed by your ship. With that piece of paper and pen in-hand, make a list on the left side of the paper.  This list can be exhaustive, for it should be a litany of all the fine things that you love about yourself.  Talents, gifts, abilities, personality traits–everything that you find to be wonderful about yourself, maybe even things that you’d feel silly telling someone else.

Now,  on the right side of the paper, think about professions–vocations–jobs that you’ve found to be interesting over the years.  It needn’t be a long list, it can be that one or two things have always caught your eye or ear.  You’ve read something, or heard something, or thought, “I could do that…” in passing.

Compare these two lists.  The list on the right is a destination where your journey may take you:  the list on the left is all the vehicles that can get you there.

Do you dare to dream?  Did the loss of your job or career make you feel that all your dreams are gone?  They’re not gone, they’re only as far away as your belief in yourself.   If you can conceive of a new vocation–if you can see yourself in it, doing it/creating it/selling it/promoting it–then you can do it.  A dream is a goal that’s still stuck in our heads and hearts–and needs only a push to get out into the “real” world, and become reality.

I know, you’re going to say that it takes money, or it takes this, or that, and you don’t have all the tools.

The thing is…if you really want something, your imagination will bring you to the place you need to be to make it happen.  Whether you decide to volunteer at a museum, or “just try your hand” at something–if you desire something with your very being, and believe in yourself–you can bring it to the surface, thence, to reality.  There may be a vocation out there, waiting to be claimed by you–and maybe that job that you just lost kept you too busy to pursue it.  Imagine that:  you lost one job (and yes, the “security” that went with it) — but maybe you needed to lose one thing in order to gain something far-greater.

Would you not rather have a vocation, your own business, or to embrace your creative self–rather than working for someone else whom, we discovered–didn’t appreciate you, anyway?  If you and your wonderful talents had been truly appreciated, you wouldn’t be non-employed today.  But maybe, just maybe, in The Big Picture–you had to lose that job so that you could go on this journey of self-discovery.

Yes, the next few months may be difficult:  you may have to be on unemployment, or borrow money from a family member or friend.  You may go through a rough time–but please know that there are scores of us out there who’ve experienced the same, and we empathize.  And that we want you to succeed–but not succeed according to the yardstick that someone else hands you–your success should be measured by what you want to do with your Life.

At some time in your Life, before you had that job that took up so much time, and now has mercifully released you–before that job, you had a dream.  Or you thought that, if you had the time and energy–you’d follow a dream.  Now is the time, this is the place.  Pick up your pen, assess your talents and desires, and create a roadmap to your new vocation.

Some people find their bliss by accident:  they’re walking along one day, and it just appears to them on a billboard.  This is not the case for 99% of us.  Most of us find our bliss by looking at ourselves, and at what worked in the past–and by what didn’t.  Take what worked, add that to the mix of your talents and dreams–and you can create a unique Life path, a career/vocation that you, and you alone, can offer the world.

You may offer a service, like hand-sewn articles.  Or you may be an artist who never mustered the guts to admit that you’re very good, and should be paid to paint.   Whatever your talents, whatever your dream–there’s a job there, one that you can create for yourself.   That person who fired or laid you off may have been doing “just business,” or they may really have hoped that you’d land not on your feet. Whether they had intentions actually to harm you or not–they did not.  They cannot.  They do not have the ability to destroy your Life–but you–you have the ability to create a Life, a profession so singularly wonderful that you’ll wonder why you ever even went to that old job in the first place.

Follow your dream.  Reinvent yourself.  Whether you’re 19 or 99, Life can become what you want–what you dream, hope and desire.  You have all the tools you need to create the map to your treasure–for your treasure is you, and your gift to the world is that you can–and will–find a beautiful new service to give the world.  The world may not heretofore realized that it needed what you have to offer–but once they get a look at it, and you–they won’t be able to resist.

It’s almost impossible to resist a person who’s confident:  for one thing, those who aren’t confident wonder how you got that way.  And they want to feel the same way about themselves.  Once you map your journey, and find your treasure within–your vocation, your reinvented career–will emerge.  You’ll exude confidence, and others will be compelled to do business with you, if for no other reason than that they are attracted to your confidence.

And that confidence can come only from within.  Those who’ve drawn their own map–rather than being at the mercy of a foreign cartographer–are confident, for they know that even stormy seas can be ridden out.  Once you find your reinvented career, those seas won’t be a threat–because you wrote your own map, and you know the route better than anyone in the world.

Reinvention is the key to overcoming the sadness that unemployment thrusts on us.  Reinvention of a career comes from acknowledging the goodness that conventional bosses may have overlooked:  but you are acutely aware of your own goodness, your own value.  And, as a reinvented professional,  you are now your own boss–a boss who’s predisposed to believe in you, at all times and in all places.

Create your map.  Chart your course.  Believe in your dreams–then, go forth, and conquer!


By Melissa Ward

Standard HR practice:

  1. Busy person sorts through a hundred resumes
  2. The ones they keep get Googled
  3. The good Google searches get looked up in Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter

If they find you on Facebook, KNOW that they will read through your status messages, snoop through your photos and get an idea of who you are as a person.

This is REALLY important.

What impression are you leaving people who don’t actually know you?

  1. Is your profile filled with whiny “my life sucks” and “nobody loves me” posts?
  2. Is your profile filled with lip puckering photos of you trying to look hot?
  3. Do you have those half-dressed photos from that party that you were less than sober posted on your profile?
  4.  Are you complaining about every interview you’ve gone on?

If you said yes to any of the above – you just figured out why your phone isn’t ringing despite the fact you’ve sent out 400 resumes in the last week.

Here’s my advice: CUT IT OUT!!!

Get that crap off your page; attempt to look professional even though your self-esteem has taken a hit. Make yourself look like someone I want to talk to and interact with 40 hours a week.

Social Media has personalized the hiring process. You are no longer judged by the polished resume you’ve sent out, you are also been looked at from a personal perspective. If you can not manage to portray yourself in a semi-professional manner, you will lose the shot at the interview. Odds are someone less qualified than you who has a clean Facebook / LinkedIn / Twitter profile will get a shot at the job before you do.

Sound harsh? It is – but it’s reality.

Clean up your profiles now.



Ironically, finding a job can be hard–but finding your vocation, the reason you were put on the planet–that is easy.

Let’s start at the beginning.   What is a vocation?  In Latin, the word, voco, vocare means, “to call.”  Your vocation is your calling. Your calling is a job that only you can do in the way that only you can do it.  Yes, doctors have vocations.  Priests, Imams, Nuns, Rabbis, too.  Those are callings, definitely.

But you don’t have to be able to save a life or counsel a soul in order to have a vocation:  your vocation is not necessarily tied to your education, or special training.  It definitely has nothing to do with being licensed by the State.

It has everything to do with you, and the unique things that you bring to the proverbial table.

I believe, with all my heart, that everyone has a calling.  There’s something that you were born to do–and no one else on all God’s green Earth can do it as well, or with the same flair–as you.

I’d always suspected that this was so:   I knew that I had talents and gifts, and that I should be using them.  But I wasn’t sure how to use them, or in what arena.

Then, eight years ago–I was 47 years old at the time–I was channel-surfing on a Sunday morning.  Waiting to go to Mass, I had time to kill.  I surfed to the local PBS station, and saw a woman speaking.  She was brilliant, and brilliantly funny.  A very pleasant person at whom to look.  Her name was Barbara Sher, and, come to find out–she was a career counselor, and a guru of sorts.

She said something that struck me like a lightning bolt:  that I had a vocation, and that it was very easy to figure out what I was supposed to be doing.  (Instead of all the other frustrating  junk that I’d been doing, in my effort to “make a living.”)  She went on to say that she wished that every guidance counselor at every high school in the world would give the advice that she was about to expound to every 14-year-old freshman during their first week of school.

Man.  That would have saved me–and millions of other lost high school students–a ton of heartache over the years.

And the advice?   That I had a vocation to find.

But how to to find my vocation, ah, that was a trick, some magical, unknowable thing, I was sure.

Nah.  Simple, saith Barbara Sher.   In  a nutshell, the first step to finding one’s vocation is to…

*  THINK  about the gifts and talents that you have.  You know, the things that you know you do well–and that other people have confirmed over the years.   No doubt friends, colleagues–even strangers–have observed you doing something and exclaimed,

“You’re a GREAT –, you should do that!”  or,

“Do you realize how wonderful you are at –?”

And every time someone has said that to you–it made you think, “Huh.  I am  pretty good at –.”‘

But then you were stumped.  OK, so what.  I’m good at something.   Maybe several somethings, even.

OK, so now you’ve figured out what talents you possess–and everyone, every single person on this planet, has talents.  Don’t try to tell me that you don’t have talents and gifts–that’s lousy self-esteem talking.   Or at least, it’s your effort to be polite–it’s not polite to brag about your talents–or so we’re taught.  I hereby give you permission to cast aside that ridiculous notion, that you shouldn’t acknowledge your talents.  (Not only should you acknowledge them–you should give thanks for them.)

When  you look deeply into your heart, you know that God gave you special abilities when you were born.

And you may even feel guilty, or weird, because you didn’t know what to do with them until…as in my case, age 47.

Let’s dump the guilt and weird, and move on.  Thinking about the fact that you didn’t use your talents in the past doesn’t change anything:  but thinking about how you can use them in thefuture–now, that’s exciting!  Life-giving.  Affirming.

Blessing–for you, and for everyone who’s going to benefit from your talents from this minute, forth.

So, then–what’s the next step to finding your vocation?

Ah, this is the fun part!

*  THINK about your passion.

What the heck is your passion?  I’ll try to paraphrase what Barbara Sher said:

–  Your passion is something that you love so much, that you think about it all the time.
–  That your magazine subscriptions are related to the subject.
–  The first websites you check, first-thing in the morning–are related to it.
–  and the Big Tell–the way you know for sure that something is your passion is:

…that you’re really happy when you’re near it, or participating in it, or just observing it–and you’re miserable when you’re not.

(And why wouldn’t you want to be around something that makes you happy?  Please, don’t give me that old hack that we’re not supposed to be happy on this Earth.   It is not true that  we’re supposed just to get through this Life, with no joy–and certainly, we’re not supposed to lovewhat we do for a living!)

That’s nonsense.  Really, that doesn’t even make sense.  If you’re alive, and you’re on this Earth–why would you not want to enjoy every single second of your Life–including the 40 hours that you work every week?

So now we know that the two parts of vocation are your talents and your passion.

What do you do with them?  Can you make a living, actually work 40 hours a week, using this formula?  What’s next?

Put them together.  (Motion here, of taking left hand, and joining it with right hand.)

And BOOM!   Your Talents + Your Passion = Your Vocation.

As God is my witness, it’s true.  Barbara Sher is brilliant–she’s tapped into something with which people have wrestled for centuries.  The minute I heard her tell her TV audience to put together our talents with our passion, I said aloud,

“I’m supposed to write about horse racing?”

And as soon as I voiced that question–within one week, the doors of opportunity began to open for me.  I would not tell this to you, were it not true.

Eight years later, I’m still writing  about horses and horse racing.  I edit books about the same.   I suspect that I’ll do this ’til I keel over at my laptop (or whatever they use when I’m 82), at a racetrack somewhere.  I’d been working for years in jobs that I hated, and writing on the side just to keep myself sane.

I love writing–I need to write–and I’m passionate about horses.  But I never put it together, until I heard Barbara Sher tell me that it was OK.

Yep, I was middle-aged when I figured out that my vocation involved my talents for writing and editing (things I love doing, anyway)–and my obsessive love for horses.  I was middle-aged–but Grandma Moses was 85 when she started to paint.

And I figure that I have at least another 25 years to ply my trade–and so do you.

I urge you to use this very simple formula to find your own vocation, toute de suite.   Time’s a-wastin’, folks.  Every day that you’re not working in your vocation is a day of drudgery.  Every day of workin’ your vocation is a day of adventure.  Yes, you’ll be disappointed along the way.  Not everyone is going to hire you/take you on/consult with you the minute you declare your vocation to be valid.

Like any other venture, it may take a while to get established.  But at least you know why you’re working so hard, and for whom.

You’ll be disappointed, yep, but remember that those who don’t believe can’t take away yourconfidence in your vocation–the knowledge that you have, that you were born to do this thing.  There’s nothing and no one to stop you, once you know what you’re supposed to be doing–and you set your sights on making it happen.

Nothing can stop you, but you.  And that, for some people, is a problem.  If you declare that you know your vocation and it fizzles out–you have no one but yourself and your own fears to blame.

But for those of you who are brave enough to step out of the spacecraft without a tether, the reward of realizing who you are far out-weigh any fears that try to take you down.

Caveat:  finding your vocation also will assure that you work a lot more than a mere 40 hours a week.  40 hours is for wimps.  People who know their vocations and are pursuing their dreams work upwards of 80 hours a week–because they love what they’re doing so much, they don’t want to take time to sleep.

If you want to sleep a lot–some of it from the depression that comes with not being fulfilled–then keep on doing what you’ve been doing.  Just look for a job that you won’t like, any old job.  That job may pay the bills–or almost.

OR try this idea on for size.  Take a job that’s not necessarily your dream gig–and realize that that job is not the end of the road for you:  it’s the means to an end.

Work in whatever job you have, or get, and give it your all.  Your present employer deserves that you respect your present position enough to put your heart into your work.

But when you’re not at that job, if that job isn’t fulfilling your heart’s desires–then I urge you to stop for just five minutes.  Take out a piece of paper, and write down your talents.  Acknowledge the good things that you do well.

Then–I’ll bet  you don’t even have to think about this part–think about your passion.  You’ll know that you’re thinking about your passion because you’re smiling when it comes to mind.

Put those two things together, on that simple page of paper–and recognize that you have just put into place the first brick of your vocation.

Promise me–forget me, promise yourself–that you’ll take those five simple minutes to find your vocation.

Then, go back to work at your job, and smile.  You know that old adage, “Smile!  It’ll make them wonder what you’re up to!”  In this case, what you’re up to is that you’ve found your calling, and you’re putting together the pieces to make it happen.  Your talents + your passion = your vocation–and you can smile all day long, because you know that you’re finally on your way to working every day at something that not only provides your basic needs–but also fills your heart with joy.

When you’re doing what you were put here to do, everyone–not just potential clients or customers–everyone around you will benefit.

And that Truth, as they say, is guaranteed.