How to land a job in the events industry
Invaluable top tips for graduates on how to land your dream job in the events industry.
Three months ago I graduated with an Events Management Degree from Regent’s University London. Having completed 3 ½ years of education, supplemented with more than a year of experience, I was convinced my entrance in the events industry would not be challenging at all. However, on 13th March –still looking for a job – I attended Confex (one of the leading exhibitions for the meetings and events industry) and witnessed an extremely ‘de-motivating’ debate about the Knowledge Gap between what universities teach and what industry professionals require from job seekers. ESP Recruitment – a leading recruitment agency – mentioned that only ‘2 out of 4000’ events-related positions have been filled by events management graduates, in their Agency’s experience. Furthermore, business representatives confidently argued that 2 years of experience in the industry is more valuable to corporate employers than 1 year of experience + 3.5 years of a B.A. in events management studies. These figures clearly show the degree is under-recognised by industry professionals. However; if you dream of working in events, this should not de-motivate you. On the contrary, it should make you want to prove everyone wrong and show them that having qualifications in any area can always be an advantage (explained below in ‘your USP’s’).
It takes time
Although sometimes you might apply for a position, attend an interview and get hired within 1 week, usually the process takes much longer. Depending on the organisation, it might take between 1 week and 3 months to go through the process and land the job you love.
Don’t get demotivated and don’t be afraid of knowing what you want
Over the last two months I have attended six interviews, which is always great experience, and yes, even if you’re unsuccessful. I even started two jobs and then left after the first week. Why?
The first role was at a company that I felt lacked industry competence and expertise. I knew I wanted a more professional setting to guide me. The second one was not as ‘events-related’ as an events management graduate would like. So, after speaking to Shout About London during Confex, I attended an interview at their offices in Park Lane. They saw in me a real passion and desire to learn and thankfully hired me to join their events consultancy firm. Spending a bit more time researching, talking to industry professionals and trying different options out is never a bad idea. It always leads to a place, where you will bring your best.
Competition is fierce
Many people enter the events industry because it is exciting and glamorous; others consider events planning a hobby, because it never gets boring and it might be quite rewarding when it all comes together. This creates unbelievable competition and 100+ people apply for every single events-related opportunity advertised on Jobsite or Reed. It can make it almost impossible to get noticed unless you can think of something that will make you stand out.
To stand out: Sell your USPs
I cannot emphasize enough the importance of finding your own unique selling points and presenting them well to prospective companies. Simply attaching a CV and expecting a response from anyone, in any industry, is not a serious attempt at winning the role. You will never stand out! A cover letter, also known as Motivation, is extremely important. You need to prove to those hiring that you are interested in the position they are advertising. Always adapt your CV and cover letter to the specific requirements of the employers. You should never, ever send the same CV and Motivation Letter to 20+ companies. It looks desperate; and it guarantees minimum response rates, if any. Use your events academic knowledge and present commercial awareness; talk with specific Events Management terms; impress the reader with relevant inside knowledge. There is no way employers would not recognise your competence and preparation.
The more experience, the better
If there is one thing I would advise anyone studying events management, it is to try and get as much experience as possible whilst studying. This is what employers look for! Volunteer on every possible occasion; intern for companies with previous experience in the industry; set up an events management society in your university – it looks great on a CV and allows you to plan and organise on-campus events with people, sharing your passion, thus gaining further valuable experience. However, sometimes even if you do all of the above, it might not be enough. So keep going! An extra 1-3 month-long internship after you graduate might be what will put you right in the middle of the Industry, opening hundreds of exciting opportunities for your future development as an Event Professional.
Network on every possible occasion
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase: “It’s who you know, not what you know”. Well, this sums up the events industry as much as almost any other. Very often, as part of the events management degrees, program directors invite industry speakers to talk to students, so have your business cards prepared and always send a follow-up message thanking the speaker for their time. Why? You were probably the only one who expressed gratitude, so you will be remembered! Meeting new people on a daily basis is so important. Introducing yourself and your story; and trying to build relationships with recruitment agencies, hiring managers and even staff will already mean you have an advantage over other applicants.
And don’t forget
It is not just about you, when talking to people, it is also about them. Show interest in your preferred organisation’s services. Ask questions and be curious about future events they organise and show passion and understanding of the industry – it will get noticed! Once they see your name on the application forms after, they will make an association and remember you (that nice, professionally presented Events Management Graduate, who made an impression on them).
I am the new Commercial Assistant at Shout About London. How?
First, I attended Confex and spoke with the co-founder- Ben Gamble.
I was forward enough to ask if they had a position, which I then showed a keen interest in and left my CV. From there it was all about doing my research, preparing for an interview and saying the right things at the right time.
The truth is that, regardless of your preferred industry, a job search is not easy. It takes time to find your perfect match and it does require putting in quite a bit of an effort to succeed - but it is all worth it in the end!
Hopefully that 2 in 4,000 statistic is on the move in the right direction.
Guest blog by Tea Kuseva
Commercial Assistant, Shout About London