Graduates on Visas: How to Craft Your Elevator Pitch to Land a Job in Australia

by Mar 29, 2019

 Are you on a visa and hoping to secure a role in Australia? If so, I’m going to help you tackle one of the most important obstacles when it comes to landing your dream job: The Elevator Pitch.

Your Elevator Pitch is a key component of your personal brand. It can find a home in many elements of your professional toolkit. From your LinkedIn Summary to your Resume Objective, you want to reflect those same skills and abilities that you have in your pitch. The Elevator Pitch is a versatile career tool that can be used for phone screening, interviews, networking and more.

I’m a proud Australia citizen now, but I’m from the US originally and have been on many visas myself. From a tourist visa, to the working holiday visa, bridging visas and a 457 visa.  I’m going to share strategies I’ve gained from both my personal and professional recruitment experiences. As an ex agency recruiter, I’ve coached international talent and helped them land interviews and offers with famous global organisations, leading Australian companies as well as start-up businesses.

Let’s start with the basics. What is an elevator pitch?

An elevator pitch is a short summary used to quickly and simply define a product, service, or organisation and its value proposition. The name “elevator pitch” reflects the idea that it should be possible to deliver the summary in the time span of an elevator ride, or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes.

OK. Remember what you are pitching is YOU. You are the product and you want someone to hire you for your services. You are your own salesperson.

Top performing job seekers follow two guidelines when crafting their pitch:

  1. Anticipate and Handle Objections
  2. Tell a Story

1. Anticipate and Handle Objections

three women in interview

International candidates have very specific and different objections to handle in contrast to a domestic candidate. It’s essential that you take a custom approach with your elevator pitch. If you believe your interviewer has a reason to doubt you for the role, you want to address that in your elevator pitch to convince them otherwise – this is important for both Australian and international candidates alike.

In my experience as a recruiter, these are some of the doubts hiring managers had in regards to hiring international talent:

Hiring managers may not understand visas or your working rights.

Hiring managers may worry you will leave Australia sooner then you actually intend to.

In addition to the standard components of an elevator pitch (listed at the end of this article), I recommend international candidates include the following information in their pitch to anticipate and handle potential objections:

  1. Explain why you decided to study in Australia
  2. Elaborate on why you want to live and work in Australia (lifestyle, your network, a partner, family, study, career opportunities etc.)
  3. Define your intentions of staying in Australia. Do you want to work here during the full length of your visa? Or do you intend to pursue permanent residency or citizenship?
  4. Clearly and concisely describe your working rights, visa and availability to work.

Working in recruitment, I was shocked how little my colleagues and clients in HR departments knew about visas. As someone responsible for employment contracts, I was never formerly trained on international working rights. Given the rapidly changing nature of visas in Australia, it’s not too surprising that formal training in this department is lacking. So as a recruiter I would spend hours speaking to the Department of Immigration and migrant agents to stay up to date on my visa knowledge. This seemingly rare knowledge allowed me to place more international candidates in roles simply by educating my clients on visas.

Of course there are employers who have a very good understanding of visas and may still require full working rights for particular roles. But for all the roles that don’t list citizenship or permanent residency as a requirement, it’s YOUR responsibility as an international candidate to clearly articulate your working rights. You have to make is SO easy to hire you, so easy to work with you….so you don’t get put in a ‘too hard’ basket.

By clearing explaining your rights and availability to work throughout the recruitment process, you will play on an even field with domestic talent as employers understand their working rights. However, even domestic candidates who don’t clearly explain their availability to start a new job struggle to get through the recruitment process successfully as they come across like a “difficult” candidate.

Bonus Tip about potential objections:

street view of adjoining homes oxford street london

In regards to my experience with hiring managers worrying that international candidates will leave Australia sooner than they actually intend to… I believe international candidates should be careful about referring to their birth country as ‘home’ in an elevator pitch. This is a personal opinion of mine as the definition of home is: the place where one lives. You are living in Australia now and interviewing for a role in Australia. Home is currently Australia. If you continuously say, ‘back home’ or lead your elevator pitch with I studied business at home in India, China, London, USA etc…. You are unintentionally making yourself sound like you don’t live here. You want to convince an employer that you want to work in Australia if you are currently conducting a job search in Australia, so it’s important they feel like this is your current home.

2. Tell a Story

girl in glasses reading world book in park

Every candidate should craft their professional story at the very start of a job search. This ensures you are ready to share your career goals with anyone.

Quite often I find elevator pitches sound cookie cutter. This is not an overview of your resume. You have to craft an interesting story – your story. It should be roughly under 2 minutes long and you need to think about what you want to convey.  This is generally the one part of an interview or conversation with an employer that you can actually control all of the content. So think to yourself, what parts of my background are essential for an employer to know? Don’t think of it as an elevator pitch, you are crafting your professional story. Every job seeker has a story. Sharing your authentic story helps employers get to know you. Employers will ask you to “Tell me about yourself,” throughout your job search. You need a story to answer them. An engaging professional story makes you stand out from the crowd.

As an international graduate you have the all the parts of a good story. You’re from a foreign country. Your experience is different from domestic candidates. You’re on an international career adventure!

girl looking out plane window

Having made the move from the USA to Australia, I believe moving abroad rapidly accelerates your personal growth and develops highly desirable soft skills for employers. To navigate in a new environment, international students build soft skills that are fundamental for the future of work. A World Economic Forum study determined the top 10 soft skills needed to face the job market in 2020:

‘Solving complex problems; Critical thinking; Creativity; People management; Coordination with others; Emotional intelligence; Judgment and decision-making; Service Orientation; Negotiation and Cognitive Flexibility.’

Your experience moving to Australia has helped you develop some of these soft skills that recruiters are looking for! To pack up all of your belongings and move to another country requires: extreme organisation, leaving your comfort zone behind, flexibility, patience, cultural adaptability, uncertainty management, persistence, open mindedness, focus, willingness to change, respect for diverse viewpoints, ability to embrace new customs, resilience, complex problem solving skills, self-awareness, attention to detail, optimism, goal commitment, endurance, perseverance and my personal favourite: grit. Wikipedia defines grit as:

‘… a positive… trait based on an individual’s perseverance of effort combined with the passion for a particular long-term goal. This perseverance of effort promotes the overcoming of obstacles or challenges that lie on the path to accomplishment and serves as a driving force in achievement realisation. Perseverance is the steadfast pursuit of a task, mission, or journey in spite of obstacles, discouragement, or distraction. Grit enables an individual to persevere in accomplishing a goal despite obstacles over an extended period.’

Utilise grit in your job search and elevator pitch to stand out from the competition! Say things to describe your personality and soft skills like: “I’m not afraid of a challenge, I’m calm under pressure and thrive when thrown in the deep end. I’m hungry to learn and ready to hit the ground running!”

Final Tip: Practice

two men talking

The best-worded elevator pitch in the world will fall flat unless it’s presented well.

How you say it is just as important as what you say. If you don’t practice, it’s likely that you’ll talk too fast, sound unnatural, or forget important elements of your pitch.

Be aware of your tone of voice as you talk, which conveys just as much information to the listener as your words do. Avoid speaking in monotone.

Studies show candidates:

  • With tone variability are significantly more likely to be invited back for a second interview
  • Without tone variability are less likely to be invited back for a second interview.

Leonard Mlodinow, author of “Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior”, says “If two speakers utter exactly the same words, but one speaks with greater variation in volume, that speaker will be judged to be more energetic, knowledgeable, and intelligent. Expressive speech, with modulation in pitch and volume, boosts credibility and enhances the impression of intelligence.”

Set a goal to practice your pitch regularly. The more you practice, the more natural your pitch will become. It should send like you are telling a story, not delivering a stiff sales pitch. I love recording myself on my iPhone to hear how I really sound. I find listening to it often helps me remember key elements to include.

As you get used to delivering your pitch, it’s totally fine to vary it a little – the idea is that it doesn’t sound too rehearsed but more like a story you’d tell a friend over coffee. In summary, be authentic, be you! As promised to wrap it up, here are the standard components all job seekers should include in their elevator pitch:

Standard Components of an Elevator Pitch

  1. State a brief intro of who you are

Ideas: Your degree, why you choose that degree, any relevant info about YOU

  1. Give some highlights

Ideas: Briefly share ALL work/experiences including internships, casual, volunteer & extracurricular activities

  1. Demonstrate how your skills align with the job

Ideas: Any relevant, transferrable or “added bonus” skills (soft & technical)

  1. Talk about goals that align with working in the role/company

Ideas: Your passions, interests outside of work/study, career objectives etc.


Featured image courtesy of Unsplash

By Steph Miller

By Steph Miller

Alumni Career Coach

Steph Miller is an experienced recruitment professional and the Alumni Career Coach in UTS Careers. She helps alumni meet career goals through career facilitation and recruitment guidance one-on-one providing resume development, personal branding, networking, negotiation and interviewing techniques while staying up on the most recent career trends.