How to Get an Event Planning Job During a Pandemic
Last month, I was talking to a recent college graduate who really wanted to be an event planner. She reached out to me for help in getting a job in the events industry during these trying times. This post was inspired by our conversation.
While securing a formal event-planning role during the current climate may not seem like it’s in the cards right now, if bringing people together is what gets you out of bed in the morning, you still have options—they may just take a little more creativity and hubris than usual. Let’s look at some potential ways to break into the events industry:
Find another way in. Perhaps taking a role that requires many of the same skills event planning does will allow you transition into an events position at some point down the line—especially if you’re just starting out professionally.
For example, a marketing job in which you’re responsible for helping to coordinate and market an organization’s events may be a great way to get your foot in the door. Consider titles such as community manager, marketing coordinator, etc. The same may be true for an operations role, in which you’re handling the kinds of details that translate well to planning, or a procurement position that involves identifying and choosing partner hotels—another crossover skill.
Seek out connections virtually. So much of our lives have moved online, and that includes career fairs and networking events. Check out local technology and startup conferences. See if there are opportunities to network with leaders virtually. You may find that there are more avenues to find your next role out there than you think by simply attending conferences virtually and striking up conversations inside virtual trade show booths.
Make a list of the top ten places you want to work. There may not be pages upon pages of event job listings to scour right now, but you can still take your professional future into your own hands. Brainstorm ways to penetrate the three leading organizations on your list by whatever means necessary. Don’t be afraid to reach out over social media, whether that means DMing a decision maker on Instagram or looking for mutual connections on LinkedIn and asking a friend or former colleague for an introduction.
Keep in mind that companies are willing to create a role for the right person. Thus, it’s probably worth it to put yourself out there—even if it makes you uneasy.
Learn adjacent skills that are now part of an event planner’s repertoire. Level up your resume by taking online courses in web development, email marketing, and even online event production in order to stand out from your peers. These new skills are needed to host virtual events and will not go away as event planners stick with their virtual programs and ensure their live events are hybrid post-covid. Speaking of virtual events, learn the new software tools out there for hosting virtual events by trying them out through their free trial.
Bring decision makers to you, rather than the other way around. Another out-of-the-box option? Determine whether there is something you can do to help employers find you. Could you put together a virtual event, like a roundtable for those in your shoes—recent graduates looking for jobs, or even those interested in hiring them? Are there other ways to create or make something that could draw the attention of those who would want to hire you, like writing, publishing, and sharing an article or bringing an idea you’ve been marinating on to life? Doing so may help you move from an inbound applicant to an outbound one. Flip the script!
As you search for your next opportunity, keep in mind that few things look the way they did several months ago. You may have to take a non-traditional tack to set yourself apart and find your next role.