Gatekeepers are people who stand in the doorway between where you are and where you want to be. Just as much as you want them to give you the job, they want to find someone qualified for it. Gatekeepers appear in the form of company recruiters, alumni or professionals a few steps ahead of you in their career journey.

So when you meet these pivotal people, how should you present yourself so that they want to open the gate for you?

The Elevator Pitch

Recently I attended a seminar at Netflix through the Inclusion Outreach Networking program, and industry professionals presented advice on how to pitch yourself in 60 seconds or less, which more times than not, is as long as you will have to pitch yourself. In that limited amount of time, there are three critical elements you want to include:

  1. Your Narrative - How does the employer fit into your journey? Reframe the situation in order to help someone understand where they can fit into your career narrative. By demonstrating to the gatekeeper that you know how they can help you, you show that you recognize your own skills and understand the hierarchy of the industry you are attempting to enter.
  2. Your Goals - In your pitch, paint a quick and accurate picture of yourself. The gatekeeper should know who you are today, who you want to be tomorrow, and where you want to be in a few years. By touching on all three of these, the gatekeeper will be better equipped to help you because they know where you are on your career journey. They must know both where you are and where you want to go if they are going to assist in opening the correct doors for you.
  3. How They Can Help - Not every elevator pitch will be the same. When presenting yourself to a gatekeeper, keep in mind to who you are talking to. Given the gatekeeper’s position and experiences, tailor what you want them to know about your recent accomplishments and be concise about it. Don’t downplay you previous experiences, no matter how insignificant you may perceive them to be. If they are relevant, mention them. It demonstrates to the gatekeeper that you are actively pursuing your career goals. Ultimately, the pitch should be the beginning of a conversation.

An example pitch could look something like this:

Hello! My name is Anna Matz, and currently I’m a college student interning at Broken Road Productions. Right now I’m looking to gain more experience in TV development, as I eventually want to work in a TV writer’s room. I thinking interning at Paramount TV would really help me understand the direction that TV programming is heading, along with understanding what it takes to get an idea from pitch to screen. Do you know how I can improve myself as an applicant for Paramount internships?

Why a Good Pitch is Crucial

During my time with the Paramount recruiter, he described his role as someone who hires employees on a regular basis, he said, “We find candidates for positions, not positions for candidates.”

By having a clear and concise elevator pitch, it is that much easier for gatekeepers, like employer recruiters, to find the position that best fits you. The easier it is for the gatekeeper to understand your goals, the more willing they are to help you achieve them. When emailing for job opportunities, be specific. Have a position in mind. This helps the hiring manager quickly and easily understand where you best fit in the company.

Help Them Help You

Ultimately, a well crafted elevator pitch helps the gatekeeper help you. When engaging with gatekeepers, you never want to give them work. An intentional elevator pitch helps ease the burden for gatekeepers by making it that much easier for them to understand your narrative, your goals and how they can help.

At some point, all gatekeepers arrived in their position because they had their own gatekeeper who was able to recognize their skills and advance them on their career journey. Gatekeepers want to help you, just as they themselves were helped in the past. So clean up your pitch, and don’t be afraid to engage with gatekeepers and advance your own career journey!

Want to learn more? Check out these student examples.

Anna Matz is the Peer Internship Ambassador for the School of Cinema and Media Arts.