Lad-Er Pitch?

September 26th, 2006 by under Uncategorized. No Comments.

Hi. I am flying out tomorrow for my trip to the diversity conference in Atlanta and I thought this my be a nice time to discuss another bit of MBA life that may be of interest to you as a reader. The Ladder Pitch.

The issue is this You the MBA need to summarize your entire career to this point to a recruiter in roughly ten seconds in such a way that they will want to talk to you more or pass you along to someone in your field. The concept may seem like a stretch, but it is quite necessary because if you take too long or expect the recruiter to help you in this process you will be taking time from the happy hopefulls standing in line behind you at the conference.

At a conference on the scale this one this number could be anywhere from no one to close to 50 people depending on a number of factors which range from the banal (whether you made it to the employer’s booth early in the day or late) to the entertaining (how large and how colorful the tote bags the firm is giving away are).

It may seem impossible to summarize an entire career in roughly three sentences, but I think that may be the wrong perspective. Basically the recruiter is a captive audience and has the same simple question that they would have to anyone they meet for the first time. These conferences are also the recruiter’s stock and trade. You are in their house. Do not forget this, because if you do they will suggest you go elsewhere. Think of the recruiter as our friend the caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland. He had the same question they do, “Who R U?”

A Recruiter Cordially Asks...My answer is thus: “Hello. I’m Mark, I’m a second year MBA focusing in finance. Before business school I worked in finance at a small biotechnology firm in Maryland. I am interested in opportunities in financial planning and analysis with your firm. (Pause 3 seconds, if no response) Is their anyone here today that I can speak to about this type of opportunity?”

Each of these sentences has specific and intended meaning. Let’s discuss…

“Hello” – Despite the fact that both the recruiter and I are at this fair for a business purpose, courtesy is still quite important. It would be quite rude to simply approach the person and begin talking about myself. We have all experienced people who take this approach and they tend to be a bit boring at their most harmless. 

“I’m Mark, I’m a second year MBA focusing in finance.” – This both places me geographically and provides a face to the name on the resume that I will be handing over in sentence three…

“Before business school I worked in finance at a small biotechnology firm in Maryland.” – Let’s the employer know that I have experience in the industry where I am applying for employment. The biotechnology element does limit me in terms of industry, but I am mainly looking at firms in this realm where experience in biotech is a positive factor. 

I am interested in opportunities in financal planning and analysis with your firm. – And now… The punchline. Here I have given the generic example of financial planning and analysis, but for all the firms that I am interested in I have applied to the job I am interested in previous to the conference on the web. This way I don’t simply appear at the both and expect the recruiter to suggest positions to me. This is not their job.

(Pause 3 seconds, if no response) – This is hopefully where the recruiter recommends an individual in my desired field that I can speak to about the job. If not I ask… 

Is there anyone here today that I can speak to about this type of opportunity?” – This is about as pushy as I get. Others differ in their approach and I don’t disagree with more “hardsell” methods, but I am fairly confident these folks have seen it all and the hardsell, frankly, is not really me, nor is it really necessary for the majority of the positions I am pursuing. I won’t give the line here, “Just be yourself” but I instead approach it in the following manner. “Would I be content in a position where I acted unnaturally in order to obtain the position?” Probably not.

What I try to do the most with the ladder pitch is to avoid having a Lad-Er pitch. I am the lad in question and what I try not to do is Er. Not err, we all make mistakes. I mean actually use the word er, um or uh. Or, for you, whatever your conversational safety net is. This is the word we use when the pedaling of our speech is too forceful for the rotation of our thoughts and we slip for a second. Fear not, I think to Er is human, I’ll be back later. Hopefully with a word that begins with F and fits the context that could be divine…