Event planning jobs: how to find the best ones

There comes a time in every event professional’s career when the need for a change makes an appearance. Are you in this situation now? Or are you just approaching the industry and would like to land an event planning job? Then this article is for you: we’re talking about event planning jobs and how to find the best ones, so read on!

First and foremost, it must be said that a career in event planning isn’t for everyone. If it’s the first time you’re looking at event planning/management as a career path, you might want to know first what is the educational background and the skills you need. We covered these aspects, as well as some possible event planning career paths, in this article.

Now, let’s say you have all it takes, educational background and skills are on point, ad you decided to go on the hunt for that perfect event planning job. So, where should you start?

LinkedIn

Event management is one of those fields in which networking and being part of a professional community are key. So your search must start from LinkedIn. To make sure you use the potential of this platform to its maximum, there are a few steps you need to take:

Create a complete profile

…or update and polish the one you’ve been having sitting around abandoned for years). Fill in all the fields (experience, education, skills, languages, certifications), add a professionally-looking profile picture, and write a summary description of your profile, that draws the eye and encompasses what you’re good at. Take the courage to ask for recommendations from previous coworkers, bosses, clients, and relevant partners you worked with. Think of your LinkedIn profile like your CV, because ultimately, that’s what it is.

Go Premium!

There are advantages and perks for active job seekers with the Premium version. “Career” is Premium’s version within a version, and it’s mainly aimed at helping you in your job search. With this option you can stand out (with a “Featured Applicant badge) and get in touch with hiring managers (by being able to send them messages, which you would otherwise not be able to do), see how you compare to other applicants, and learn new skills to advance your career.

Join professional groups!

Here’s where the networking side of LinkedIn (and of the event industry!) comes into play. There are numerous groups on LinkedIn dedicated to event management, where professionals in the field exchange ideas, advice, and interact on a regular basis. Make sure you join a few and stay (inter!)active by contributing with relevant posts, articles and comments. Make your voice heard and establish yourself as a knowledgeable professional. Just like in “real” life, your expertise will make you noticeable within the network. A good place to start is the Event Planning & Event Management group, the largest event professionals community, founded by Julius Solaris (who is also the founder of the reputable Event Manager Blog).

Add relevant professional contacts

A well curated LinkedIn profile makes a good impression if it has a significant number of contacts. That doesn’t mean you should become spammy and just add people randomly. Start with previous coworkers and people you know (it will turn useful in the next stage when you will ask for recommendations – yes, you do need to gather that courage to ask them, there’s no way around it! Then search for and add professionals in the events industry and people working at the companies you would like to work at. As your network grows, explore the networks of the people within your network. When you interact with people in groups, start adding those too.

Generic job websites

Each country has its favorite jobs ad platform, with a few global ones dominating the market. Among the largest and most well known ones, we need to mention:

Job websites specialized in the event industry

  • PCMA : if you’re looking for a job in the business events sectors, the career section of PCMA is definitely a place to look. With over 7000 members, PCMA is the largest network of Business Events Strategists.With a headqarters in Chicago, it has partners and collaborators around the globe.
  • meetingjobs.com: if your job search is in the meeting sector, definitely take a look at this website, as the jobs posted here are mostly within meetings.
  • eventcareers.com: this job board serves the whole range of positions in all fields of the event industry so it’s definitely not to miss!
  • MPI: again, a site that focuses on jobs within the meeting planning industry
  • ILEA: stands for International Live Events Association (you might even consider becoming a member, since we’re at it) and the jobs posted on the career page of their website span the whole spectrum of the events industry

What jobs to search?

A few words about search terms. If you simply searched for “event planner” or “event manager” and your search ended up retrieving maybe 3 results in your area, that is because a lot of jobs and positions in this industry use totally different words. Here are some possible search terms you may want to try:

  • event coordinator / event assistant / event operations manager
  • catering manager / catering coordinator / assistant
  • conference / convention manager
  • meeting planner / coordinator /  manager / assistant
  • exhibition coordinator
  • festival coordinator

In general, don’t get stuck with the word “event”. Try to refine your search and broaden your horizons by typing the specific field of the events industry (conferences, festivals, meetings, conventions, etc.), plus the position you’re looking for (manager, planner, coordinator, assistant, etc.).

Moreover, don’t get stuck with the idea that only event agencies hire event professionals. Large companies, no matter the industry, have entire departments dedicated to events, as part of their marketing or communication divisions. Companies that draw most of their business from being event vendors (hotels, conference centers and other venues, sports centers, A/V equipment suppliers, etc.) most likely have interesting positions to fill in. The same goes for non-profit organisations and charities.

On the same note, many marketing and communication positions have plenty of event planning duties without even featuring the word “events” in the job title. So when all options for “event jobs” seem to be exhausted in your region, start checking up on the marketing and communication jobs, you’ll be surprised of the gems you will find!

What if I have ZERO experience in events?

If you’re a beginner in the industry, this whole job search may seem like a dog that’s biting its own tail. How are you ever going to get a job if every employer out there only hires experienced people in the field? To build experience, you need that first events job! The job that no-one is going to give you, because, you guessed… you don’t have experience! And yet, we all started somewhere, so it’s not exactly impossible. Here are some ways of tackling this issue.

Hunt for assistant positions

Adapt your application to highlight those skills of yours that would make you suitable for an entry level events position. Chances are, you will find that assistant level job that does require the skills (organizational, people skills, communication skills, marketing, social media etc.) but not the direct event experience. If you’re a newly graduate, it’s a great start. If you’re working on a more senior position in a different field, the downgrade will seem daunting at first but each career switch comes at a price so you need to “sacrifice” for a bit and focus on working your way up once you get a foot in the door.

Volunteering and internships

If the assistant route doesn’t seem to be working, look into volunteering and internships on an event related role. Yes, that does mean that you will be working “for free”, but sometimes it’s the only way you can create that first experience. Volunteering is a very common practice in events, and often you can’t break inside the industry without this rite of passage. The advantage is that you will gain hands-on  experience in a wide array of event management task, from the real world, and you will build a network of connections that will then help you get paid jobs. Check out the events calendar for the upcoming year in the area, and ask the organizers if they need volunteers for check-in, venue setup, attendee assistance, catering, the opportunities are endless!

Build your own portfolio

This can go along with the previous two options, to show you are dedicated and committed to breaking into the industry. Offer to organize small events (for free in the beginning, then for a small fee, or just ask to cover the material costs of supplies and offer your labor for free) for friends and family. Birthdays, anniversaries, baby showers, even small and simple weddings, are valid options. Make sure you take lots of professional quality photos of your work. Build a simple portfolio website. Start a blog, write about your experiences in organizing these events, share news and opinions about the industry, show that you are passionate and interested in the field, and do mention this in your CV and cover letters!

To conclude

There is no sure way to land the ideal job, and when it comes to event planning jobs, the market is very competitive! But we hope that by combining the ideas we listed above, it will be just a matter of time and determination until you land the job that you’ve always dreamed of!

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