I’ve walked around backstage in my life in a fog for a week mulling over “the elevator speech”. Don’t count me among the fans of that term. I prefer, “30 second spot/commercial” (advertising was going to be my little specialty back in journalism school). Yes, I like watching commercials.
One of my job clubs suggested I chain saw a major limb of job experience off my resume because it was dead: 5 years of failed jobs. Timber! There went the “I’m experienced in” part of my elevator speech.
The problem is that I’ve racked up years of experience in careers/jobs where I have either failed miserably or just don’t want to do anymore. Were you at Sally and Ray Strackbein’s seminar,“Strategic Bragging” , held in Reston, VA last week, the first lesson you would have learned is, “stop talking about what you don’t want” except to your confessor or your therapist. Sally made us raise our hands and swear it! Strackbein is dead-on about the mechanics of the law of attraction. She tells people, “Talk about what you want and you’ll get it”.
Up to last life-changing week, I had talked about what I did not want in an elevator pitch and it turned out looking like this:
Hi, I’m Victoree. I’ve got over 10-plus years of experience in…
- (job type I am no longer physically fit to do)
- (profession where I got marvelous grades in school for theory, but was a terrible practitioner after)
- (job type that bored me to hair-fallout but did for an unacceptably low wage an inordinately long time to buy food and pay rent)
…I can apply my skill to write proposals for your company (but I haven’t got the specific knowledge or the 3-5 years of experience doing it yet, so I’ can’t prove I would be successful).
Well, neither contacts nor recruiters do either. I call it the “doughnut”–the elevator pitch with the hole in the middle. It’s an unsettling stage in a career transition between “used to be” and “will be in the future” people stumble into (There be monsters: thunder and lightning, tear sodden pillows and dead bottles of Jack Daniels). It’s like being thirteen. People in both my network clubs said, “Get back to us when you know what you want to do”.
Now, on the internet and elsewhere tons of advice exist for people who already know what they want to do. Job clubs assume you already know. That is the starting point where they help. There is no advice for people who don’t know except to read books, take tests and find career coaching. However, after you finish the books, interpret the tests and complete the coaching, you get down to brass tacks: the choice is yours alone. Responsibility for the decision you make in the time of the “doughnut hole elevator speech” is yours alone. Nobody except you can tell you what you ought to do for a life. Nobody except you can tell you what your correct work is. Can you make a wrong decision and mess it up? Yes, you can, but you must push through failure to the success on the other side.
This is the heart breaking moment that seems to last forever; that keeps some immobile for a long, silent, painfully lonely time. It feels like being snowed in–like in the blizzard of 2010. Unpredictable like the blizzard, this period can last for a few hours, a few days, or a few years.
- People around you will wonder about your sanity.
- You will question your own sanity.
- Only they who have gone through it will understand it.
The time of the doughnut hole elevator speech is a time of intense personal battle in the soul. As for me, the long snow is over in my career. It feels like it’s the Feast of St. Brighid or Imbolc, Celtic spring. I’m “indoor sowing” the delicate seeds of my new career now. I’m also doing some hard pruning and dead wood clearing including the 5 years of bad job events on my resume and my hole-in-the-middle elevator speech. Talking about the process of creating a new resume and a new elevator speech that embraces Owning Up To My True Self is another day’s work.
Finally, to everyone still in the winter of the job search: this special season will not last forever. Spring comes. Prepare.