In today’s job market, it is crucial that you equip yourself with the tools you need to find a position. During the search, it is important not only to shore up your weaknesses but also to leverage your strengths to your advantage, as these are the qualities that will define you as a candidate.

On paper, the majority of pharmacy students share similar extracurricular activities and work experiences, making it harder for candidates to stand out among their peers. To differentiate yourself, aim to improve on some nontangible elements like investing in your professional relationships or growing your current network. One way to do so is by preparing an “elevator speech,” or a pitch, to present to potential connections you meet at national conferences, career fairs, or any social gathering.

An elevator speech is essential to all professionals in any field of practice, whether it be health care or in business. For you, it is a structured way of presenting yourself to potential connections and provides an opportunity to not only share credentials effectively but also leave an impact on people you are meeting for the first time. The name of the speech is appropriate because you should be able to present it in its entirety during a brief elevator ride, which lasts about 30 to 60 seconds.

If executed correctly, an elevator speech can be a stepping-stone to new opportunities; if the elevator speech is subpar, however, it has the potential to repel potential connections. Here are some tips to keep in mind when crafting yours:
  1. Start your pitch with your name, your current status in school, and the name of your school. In your introduction, you can also incorporate an interesting fact, like your hometown, to create common ground with the person to whom you are speaking.  
  2. Discuss your past experiences, strengths, and weaknesses in relation to how they make you an ideal candidate for this company or position. You can draw on your group projects, extracurricular activities, and relevant internships.   
  3. Mention your career goals and aspirations, describing where you see yourself in the future. Briefly walk your audience through how you are working toward the goal you have set for yourself.
  4. Explain how and why you are the ideal candidate for the position by speaking about your qualifications and how they align with the needs of the organization.
  5. Complete your pitch by asking how to follow up with the company and who the best contact will be. You can also exchange business cards and thank the person for his or her time.
Your elevator speech will continue to evolve as you gain more experience and will improve as you deliver it to more and more people. Start by practicing with people in your current network, including your pharmacy school peers and professors. Although you may be busy as a pharmacy student cramming for therapeutic exams and counseling sessions, working on professional growth is equally important to landing that dream career.
Daniel Chang is a 2019 PharmD candidate at the Rutgers University Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy in New Brunswick, New Jersey.