Monday, April 23, 2012

The elevator talk

I can't recall who proposed this, but there is a job-seeker technique called "the elevator talk". 

Let me paint a scenario:

One day, I am visiting my colleagues on the 34th floor of Manulife Place here in Edmonton.  As I leave I see Patrick Laforge, President and CEO of the Edmonton Oilers.  He is waiting for the elevator to go down.  The door opens and we both step in......

What conversation do I have with Mr. Laforge to get a dream job with the Oilers?

Envisioning this can be useful since, as job seekers, we need to engage the people around us to discover opportunities and clearly, concisely express our value to an organization.  It also can help your on-line profile, your resume, and even your interview (more on that later).

Back to the elevator....before Mr. Laforge can grab his blackberry, I say "Patrick Laforge, I'm Jayson Lavergne.  You have some very talent people working for you right now, including some fantastic skaters.  I have always wanted to ask you how does your organization attract and assess talent? I attract and assess talent for the Federal Government of Canada and I love to hear unique perspectives on the issue".

Now, hopefully, Mr. Lafarge hears me. After he hears me, I hope that he compliments my question & gives me a quick response.  If he answers anything like a player, I am sure he will tell me they give 110% and it is a team effort. Once he is done, I would then say, "That's great.  Is there anyone I call follow-up with (as I grab my blackberry)."

Now hopefully, he gives me a name in his organization that I can call, follow-up with, or find on linked-in.  As the doors open, I wish him god luck bringing the cup back to Edmonton and we go our separate ways.

If he asks more about what I do, I then I tell him that I advise managers to support about 17,000 positions in Alberta by sourcing, recruiting, and assessing talent.  My clients include DND, Correctional Services, RCMP, Health Canada and 43 other organizations.

Why is this useful to work through the elevator conversation?

1.  You can establish how, when faced with an influential person, you can establish a professional conversation.  A casual conversation will typically not create a career opportunity.  And yes, everyone is an influential person.

2.  You can create a career summary for yourself.   This summary can then be used in social media & as an introductory section of your cover letter or resume.

Have fun on your elevator ride! I will be trying "elevator talk" out as I attend a 2-day HR conference in Calgary and meet influential HR professionals.  Wish me luck.


  1. Jayson, this is great! We all need to brush up on our "elevator talk" even when not seeking new employment. It's an opportunity to think about what we do and the value we are bringing to our organizations. More importatnly, it is a very useful check-in with ourselves to see if we are still engaged and loving what we are doing, or if it is time to open some doors and go exploring. Merci et bon travail!

  2. The pitch should say "talented" not "talent" people.

    Relevant topic -- as our attention spans continue to shrink, we'll have even less time to make an impression. However, treating all people as potential sources of job leads seems somewhat dehumanizing. Not everyone is influential in a positive sense. Some people are sufficiently malicious to derail efforts of job seekers for the fear of losing their own position. A shotgun approach to networking is bound to produce ricoches.

  3. Thank you Anonymous for your astute comments.

    There is a fine line between engaging everyone you meet and seeking personal gain. It comes from a different place inside us - many of my conversations are not for personal gain & most end up being not productive.

    But in these days of ipods, twitter, and gaming, there is a real lack of interaction, a real lack of community, and a lack of altruism. I long for those things and seek them out with anyone I can.

    And the spin off is, it opens a lot of doors