The Perfect Pitch

How to Sell Yourself for Todays Job Market


By David Andrusia

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ebook (Digital original)


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International marketing expert David Andrusia shares his essential tips and tricks for pitching yourself in today’s hyper-competitive job market.

Whether it’s finding a new job, holding on to current employment, or nailing down a new promotion, the key is learning how to effectively sell or “pitch” oneself to others. In this insightful and entertaining handbook, Andrusia explains how to succeed in today’s competitive and constantly shifting job market by perfecting the tailored pitch, the personal pitch, the power pitch, and the team pitch.


"Whether you're a laborer, foreman, or head of the firm, your lot in life is by no means guaranteed 'Good enough' no longer is, and even if you're great, you're going to have to let other people know—not once in a while but all the time. This book will show you how to do just that: how to pitch to win—and get what you want out of your career, your job, your life."



"You'll laugh out loud while you learn the hip, happening steps to pitch your idea and yourself."

—D.A. Benton,
author of How to Think Like a CEO

"The perfect tool for anyone who needs to market themselves. In addition to his invaluable, step-by-step information, David Andrusia's humor and down-to-earth style are delightful. I learned and laughed and can't wait to go pitch myself."

—Jill Spiegel,
author of Flirting for Success

"A great book, I loved it!"

—Joe Girard,
author of How to Sell Yourself

"More than a job guide—much, much more. It's a step-by-step program on carving out the career of your dreams."

—Erin Mulvey,
director of public relations, Vidal Sassoon Salons

"David Andrusia is the job guru for the next millennium. Whether you're the head of the company or just starting out, THE PERFECT PITCH will get you where you want to be."

—Greg Ptacek,
coauthor of 150 Best Companies for Liberal Arts Graduates: How to Get a Winning Job in Tough Times

"David Andrusia articulates the precise strategies that are essential in this increasingly competitive job market. The techniques that he illustrates in THE PERFECT PITCH are valuable and, more important, effective."

—Terrie M. Williams,
author of The Personal Touch



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Warner Books, Inc.

Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue

New York, NY 10017

Visit our website at

First eBook Edition: September 2009

ISBN: 978-0-446-56694-0


Been there, done that, seen 'em all. As a one-time job seeker and all-the-time career consultant, I've read practically every guide to getting a job that's ever been writ. Some tell you what kind of shoes to wear, others how to shake hands, and some have the audacity to proffer personal points of view on whether or not a nose job will help you get a job.

Most of these books are big on spiritual shriek, tossing around aphorisms, adages, and assorted bon mots like confetti on New Year's Eve. One even takes a religious point of view, beseeching readers to put themselves in the hands of God as a means of ensuring career success.

I agree: Faith is important, and studies show that true believers live longer, healthier lives. But it's belief in yourself as well as a higher power, not a fatalistic fervor, that will help get the job, project, or consultancy of your dreams.

So get out of the kitchen; you'll find no chicken soup for the soul here. And I'm afraid you'll have to check Bartlett's Familiar Quotations for words of wonder and warmth. This is where you'll find the real feel-good stuff: the secrets, stripped to their essence, of the Andrusia Technique—your road to the Perfect Pitch and the work you've always wanted to have.


My heartfelt thanks to:

Rob McQuilkin, who acquired this book and was the first to share the Perfect Pitch vision

Diane Stockwell, gifted editor, great friend, and ardent supporter—here's to the first of many!

Karen Thompson, for doing a magnificent job on the copy editing (Scorpios rule!)

All my friends, family, and clients (you know who you are)

And, most of all, to my dear friend and agent, Katharine Sands—a pitchmistress par excellence who never let me give up the dream that this book was always meant to be.



Several years ago, as head of marketing for a Hollywood film studio's home video group, I needed to hire a marketing manager. The company was supertrendy, the salary was great, the offices were smashingly designed, and the work was fulfilling and fun. In sum: It was the job of anyone's dreams.

To fill the position, I placed ads in the Hollywood Reporter and Daily Variety, the entertainment industry's main trade papers, told everyone I knew to send me great candidates, and conducted a survey of my own to source junior video marketing people who might want to make a move. So I got hundreds of résumés with fabulous cover letters from job seekers telling me why they were the hottest thing since cream cheese and why they wanted the job. Right?

Wrong. What I got was a pile of standard-issue résumés with cover notes as bland as bread: a virtual catalog of phrases from production-line résumé preparers, all lacking in imagination, enthusiasm, and personal flair. And precious few even bothered to tell me what they'd done for their previous employer and what superior creatures they themselves were.

Letters like this one:

Mr. David Andrusia


Los Angeles, CA

Dear Mr. Andrusia:

I am responding to your company's notice for a marketing manager that appeared in the Hollywood Reporter.

I am currently employed as a marketing manager at ABC Advertising on the Honda campaign. In addition to a five-year marketing career, I procured my MBA at Degree Mill University.

I believe I possess all the qualities required for success in the advertised position. Please call me if you would like to discuss this further.

Thank you.


Carla Clueless

Letter, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways:

  1. The overall tone is generic, without any attention paid to the advertisement—and position—at hand. (The ad listed a full set of basic qualifications; instead of showing how she had contributed in all these areas, Carla made reference to none.)
  2. The writing style is banal and, in several instances, ungrammatical. If the syntactical errors don't cry out to you, chances are you need to brush up on your English skills. (Note: Prostitutes procure customers; one does not procure a degree.)
  3. Nearly every sentence begins with "I." In addition to being stylistically boring, it represents a rather narcissistic point of view. Prospective employers don't care what you want; they want to know what you can do for them.
  4. If your academic qualifications are splendid, mention them in the cover letter. If you attended a school of no particular note, don't.
  5. "Please call me?" I don't think so! Never end with a plea; instead, it's incumbent on you to tell your potential boss exactly what you can do for him or her, e.g., "I would welcome the opportunity to meet you to discuss how I can help take New Line Home Video to new vistas in market position and—more important—sales." (Now that's a closing that will generate interviews!)

While Carla's letter was certainly among the most egregious I received, it was far from atypical. The lion's share of documents I received were cookie-cutter résumés that said absolutely nothing to me.

When I finally selected a set of people to see, I was more than ready to be wowed—to have candidates tell me why they could do a bang-up job and why they wanted to work at one of the hottest companies in town. Instead, what I got was a lot of smiling faces and passive points of view.

These were potentially excellent candidates, all with superior professional backgrounds, most with top-ten MBAs. Yet not one of these candidates had found their Perfect Pitch. Not one knocked me over with their overwhelming desire to work for New Line Home Video or was able to tell me clearly and succinctly what they could do for me.

As the weeks passed, and my frustration level grew, I expressed my amazement to my assistant and, increasingly, confidante, Michele B. (Though she had only been on board for two months, and had actually started as a temp, I recognized her drive and talent, and snapped her up as soon as funding for a permanent position was approved.)

"Maybe it's an L.A. thing," I mused. "Maybe I'm just looking for that quick-witted, fast-moving New York attitude—that certain spark that I'm just not going to find out here."

"But I'm from L.A.," Michele offered. "And if I may be so bold, you're ready to sing my praises at the drop of a hat."

"That's true. But you went to college back East; and besides, your mother's Jamaican. That West Indies repartee is as sharp as any New Yorker's razor tongue!"

"True." (Pregnant pause.) "So why don't you hire me?"

"Michele, you know I think the world of you. But I'm really looking for five years' marketing experience and a top-drawer MBA."

"I understand. Still, who managed most of the Critters 3 campaign?"

"You did, and you did a wonderful job. But that was a little film, and I need substantial experience to handle our 'A' titles."

"So hire that person for 'A' films. And let me do the marketing on the lower-budget releases."

Unprepared for this proposal—this pitch—I was left momentarily speechless. If it's one thing the progressive executive knows, it's never to say no to a new idea without giving it due thought. (Of course, far too many managers do exactly this; it's the greatest pitfall of the conformist corporate world.)

"Let me think about it." I half-smiled.

"Fair enough. And in the meantime, would you seriously object to my writing a marketing plan for Freddy's Dead?"

I had planned to write that plan myself over the weekend. And who was I to object to a little bit of responsibility taken off my shoulders?

"Sure, be my guest. But, Michele—no promises."

"No promises," she agreed, and returned to her desk grinning from ear to ear.

. . .

The end of this story is hardly obscure; you surely guessed its outcome paragraphs ago. On Monday morning, I returned to the office to find a fully fleshed marketing plan on my chair, one in which I could find no fault. Yet still I was hesitant; Michele just didn't have the range of experience I was looking for.

When we met later in the day, I told her so—and admitted I was impressed by what she had written.

"I think you're terrific, Michele; I'm just looking for a more experienced marketing manager," I confided.

"Then make me assistant marketing manager," she offered. "Linda downstairs has that title, and she was promoted from assistant. I'll handle the B titles, which I'm doing anyway, and you can hire a hotshot MBA to market the big guns."

A brilliant idea; why hadn't I thought of it first? I, in turn, pitched this solution to my boss, who could find no good reason to say no, and Michele got the promotion she convinced me she deserved.

She had, in fact, made a perfect pitch. And no matter what your field, what your age, or where you live, you can too.

Sound too easy, too good to be true? Once you know the secrets of pitching, you'll wonder how you ever did business before. Yet, after fifteen years as an executive with major companies, I'm constantly amazed at how few people know how a pitch—for an assignment, a project, a job)—can mean the difference between being an almost-ran and winning big. You only need to consider the parade of job applicants in the example above to see how powerful a Perfect Pitch can be.

So discard all your preconceived notions about how to get a job; toss out the tried and true. This is about a whole new way of getting and keeping the job of your dreams, even in these turbulent times. It's about finding your own Perfect Pitch.


What Is a Pitch and Why Do I Need One?

To be perfectly honest, you didn't always need to pitch. Oh, sure, people in sales, carnival barkers, and such have always pitched for a living, but for a steady gig in the corporate world, pitching used to be icing on the cake, not a necessary part of business life. America was expanding, companies needed staff, and unless you were a sociopath, an ax murderer, or had a religious aversion to brushing your teeth, there was always a place for you.

Unfortunately, unless you've been living under a rock (or have a trust fund that makes work just another four-letter word), you've already found out that a steady gig—much less the charmingly antiquated notion of lifetime employment—is by no means a sure thing anymore. The white-collar life of Daddy bringing home the bacon with an easy nine-to-five job—and bringing home much more than that with a college degree—is a notion that's just about bitten the dust for good. Or, to borrow an oft-circulated joke:

The status symbol of the eighties was a BMW

The status symbol of the nineties is a job.

Indeed, in his critically acclaimed book The End of Affluence: The Causes and Consequences of America's Economic Dilemma, Jeffrey Madrick notes that, in the nineties,

an increasing proportion of workers couldn't find jobs. The average unemployment rate climbed from 4.5 percent in the 1950s… to 7.3 percent in the 1980s, and has averaged between 6 and 7 percent so far in the 1990s. As many as one million Americans left the workforce entirely, and were no longer counted among the unemployed.

Blue-collar layoffs were nothing new; since the advent of the Industrial Revolution, jobs swelled and shrank with supply and demand. Much more telling is the effect that retrenchment has had on the previously unscathed ranks of the professional world. As Madrick notes, "By about 1987 slow economic growth had begun to put pressure on the salaries of better-paid white-collar workers as well." And, moreover, that "slow growth since 1973 [has] resulted in the loss of several million jobs."

Discouraging figures, these; but, of course, if you've been out in the job market recently, you already know the score. The reasons are much discussed and myriad, but the principal ones are obvious: Companies have reduced the sizes of their workforces more dramatically than ever before; the dollar buys less, requiring more than one person in a family to work; and our larger population lives longer and requires a greater number of jobs. Plus, there's this indisputable fact:

The proportion of white males who had graduated from college rose from 6 percent in 1947 to 11 percent in 1955 and to about 25 percent in the 1980s. (Bureau of Census figures)

This figure of college graduates (a higher figure than any other industrialized country, in part due to lower standards for university admission vis-à-vis, say, those in France or Germany) and a loss of manufacturing jobs by themselves point to a lower ratio of people to jobs. Add to that a trend not acknowledged by the census figure above—the positive social change of African and Hispanic Americans (not so long ago relegated to agricultural and unskilled posts) entering the professional workforce—and what you've got is more Americans than ever vying for an increasingly shrinking number of jobs.

And that's just the beginning. According to Jeremy Rifkin's cautionary book The End of Work:

Global unemployment has now reached its highest level since the great depression of the 1930s. More than 800 million human beings are now unemployed or underemployed in the world.


Already, millions of workers have been permanently eliminated from the economic process, and whole job categories have shrunk, been restructured, or disappeared.

This point of view is shared by Madrick, who notes, "The re-engineering of work is eliminating jobs of all kinds and in greater number than at any time in recent memory." And, closer to home, the news isn't getting any better: "In the United States, corporations are eliminating more than two million jobs annually."

This is a view shared by no less esteemed a source than the New York Times, whose widely hailed seven-part series on the downsizing of America proclaimed:

More than 96 million jobs have been erased in the United States since 1979…. increasingly the jobs that are disappearing are those of higher-paid, white-collar workers, many at large corporations.

It's a sentiment Madrick echoes: "More people of all ages, no matter what their ethnic group or educational qualifications, have lost jobs than at any other time in the postwar era."

But what about the bazillions of new jobs the President touts on the evening news? Well, according to Charles Derber in The Wilding of America, "Forty-four percent of the new jobs created in the 1980s pay less than $7,400 a year, which is 35 percent less than the poverty-level income for a family of four."

So you may not have to pitch a job at McDonald's; they, Kmart, and other entry-level jobs will continue to abound. (And why shouldn't their business be good? People can't afford to eat at "real" restaurants, which are closing in droves, or to shop at middle-class department stores, which are shutting their doors in greater numbers than ever before.) But if you're looking for a well-paying job—be you secretary, sales manager, or self-employed—the rules of the game have changed for good.

No, you didn't always have to pitch. There were jobs for all Americans who wanted to work, promising a good wage for the high-school diplomate and a great one for the college grad. A professional degree virtually guaranteed an upper-middle-class lifestyle, an opulent one if it was from a top-drawer school. (When I graduated from Columbia in the late seventies, the utterly useless "placement office" offered only this advice: "Don't say a degree in French hasn't prepared you for anything. Companies will always want a Columbia man." And they were right: There was always some kind of shabby-genteel job in advertising or publishing that you could work at for a year or two before going to law or business school.)

But, as the saying goes, That was then; this is now. And these, my friends—if you haven't found it out already—are the times that try men's and women's souls. As the above citations make amply clear, there are more people than jobs today; the employment situation is rather like a game of musical chairs where the chairs outnumber the butts by three to one. If you think it's not a pretty picture, you're right.

And the situation isn't likely to change anytime soon. In fact, the most recently emerging phenomenon in the working world is the substitution of consultancies, freelance, and temporary work—all without such luxuries as health insurance and retirement plans, thank you very much—for what used to be full-time jobs. Indeed, Rifkin writes:

Professional employment is… becoming temporary. The Executive News reports that more than 125,000 professionals work as temps every day…. Temporary workers and outsourcing make up the bulk of today's contingent workforce.

Or, in the unapologetic words of William Bridges (Job Shift: How to Prosper in a World Without Jobs), "We will all have to learn new ways to work."

There you have it, folks: Whether you be clerical, administrative, or executive material, temporary employment is, increasingly, the order of the day. There are pluses (freedom, intellectual stimulation) and minuses (no health insurance, the possibility of being evicted from your apartment at any moment) associated with this kind of work; we'll discuss these later. But like it or not, life as a worker-for-hire is the wave of the future, and learning how to get this kind of work is something many of us are going to need to know. And this book will tell you how to find it—not just now, but throughout your working life. All you need to do is to find, time and time again, your Perfect Pitch.

This changing face of employment in America is, frankly, what really propelled me to write this book. As a career counselor and motivational speaker, I've been helping people find jobs and change careers for years; but only recently has the scourge of corporate downsizing produced so huge a field of talented, hard-working, jobless folks—people who, by personal choice or as victims of circumstance, needed to temp, consult, or freelance to pay the bills, men and women with superior skills and oceans of experience, but who are clueless as to how to market—how to pitch—their hard-earned wisdom and desire to work.

Then there's the growing segment of workers who, by dint of their chosen careers, are going to have to pitch—themselves, their skills, their ideas—nearly every day of their lives. Actors, writers, small business owners, salespeople, lawyers, people whose jobs are virtually defined by their presentation of ideas, day in and day out. People like my friend Martin Sokol, one of Hollywood's most innovative and hottest young producers, who, despite his success, confided, "Really, Dave, I'm just winging it. I have to pitch several times a day, but I could use some tips as to organization, technique, and approach." It's for mavericks like Marty, committed job seekers, and the hundreds of thousands of men and women downsized by corporate greed that I write this book.

And, oh, by the way: If you're sitting smugly thinking you're above all this; that is, if you have a steady job, don't be quite so smug (though chances are, there aren't too many of you out there—studies show over half of all Americans are worried about losing their jobs). In today's supercompetitive employment climate, where jobs are stripped of protective corporate layers and people routinely perform the work of two former staffers, there's no such thing as deadwood: Everyone must pull his or her own weight. Accordingly, one thing I'll teach you in this book is ways you can pitch to keep your own job, subtle techniques that help keep you ahead of the pack.

So now that we're agreed that we all have to pitch, regardless of what we do and where we are, let's return to the first part of the question, namely, What Is a Pitch? In its most simple terms, stripped of all linguistic gobbledygook:

Pitching is about getting information across to a target audience in the clearest, most concise, and winningest possible way. Your Perfect Pitch is the one that makes your audience—whoever, whatever, and wherever they are—shout "Yes!"

In other words, pitching is all about getting what you want by convincing your audience that what you're pitching (be it an idea, a concept, yourself) is something he or she just can't live without.

Without a doubt, the question most often asked of me is this: What is the difference between pitching and selling? It's a valid, even vital question whose answer, in effect, underscores the raison d'être of this book.

According to Webster's, to sell is "to impose upon… to deliver or give up in violation of duty, trust or loyalty" and even (egads!) "to betray." It is any wonder that used-car salespeople have such bad reps?

Pitching, on the other hand, is about communicating. If selling is talking at someone, pitching is talking to—and with—them. Selling is ultimately an act of narcissism; conversely, by explaining why a proposition is of use to all parties involved, pitching is an essentially humanistic skill.

Or think of it this way: Selling is tantamount to Stone Age Man clubbing his intended and dragging her back to his cave. Pitching is debonair Marcello Mastroianni doing his suave Latin lover routine in those la dolce vita films. It's the difference between being wonked and wooed, between stealing and seduction.


On Sale
Sep 26, 2009
Page Count
272 pages

David Andrusia

About the Author

David Ambrose is a British novelist and screenwriter whose credits include at least 20 Hollywood films, three stage plays, and many hours of television, including the controversial Alternative 3. He was born in Chorley, England, and attended Blackburn Grammar School and Merton College, Oxford.

Learn more about this author