The 6 Skills You Need to Land Jobs In Event Planning
Looking for jobs in event planning can be an overwhelming task if you’re just starting the process. Whether you’re looking for your first job, changing careers, or trying to trade your solo business in for a corporate gig, the wide array of opportunities combined with the varied skills required could leave a job-seeker thinking that all jobs in event planning demand an inhuman amount of experience and abilities.
In order to help see the field more clearly, we took a look at hundreds of event planning job descriptions and talked to some event planners who have landed their dream careers in order to find the connecting threads between the vast array of jobs in event planning. Develop these 6 skills and you’ll be on your way to making your passion a full-fledged career.
Skill 1: Experience
Real Job Description Quote: “Bachelor’s degree and three years of relevant experience or combination of education and relevant experience. Five years of experience is highly desired.”
So it’s not quite a skill, but for most jobs in event planning employers are looking for between 3 and 5 years of experience. There is, of course, that catch 22 – how can I get experience if I don’t have any experience?
Stephanie Sica is the owner of a boutique wedding and event agency in New York, Orchard + Broome. She described her pay-your-dues years of gaining experience by saying, “I began with an internship for a NYC-based startup wedding planning company, unpaid but very hands-on as a communications major in college. After attending a number of networking events, client meetings, and really being heavily involved in planning a major wedding, I learned a lot (of what not to do).”
Internships are great, but often don’t pay much (or at all) and require a huge time commitment. The Muse suggests volunteering as a great way to get experience. “Even if you work in a completely different field, you can volunteer with a local nonprofit and help to plan a fundraising event.” Nonprofits always need help, and you need experience. It’s a match made in heaven.
Skill 2: Negotiating
Real Job Description Quote: “…researching venues and vendors, drafting RFPs, and negotiating contracts in a manner that is consistent with industry’s best practices, facilitates the best opportunity for the event’s success…”
Jobs in event planning are always going to require some degree of negotiation skill. There are a lot of stakeholders at any given event, but your boss is going to want to make sure that your team has the favorable terms and is coming out on top regardless of the circumstances. Ever negotiated a contract before? It can be intimidating if it’s your first time – and employers know that. It takes confidence and a strong constitution to hold your ground in a negotiation, and not everyone comes by it naturally.
Take time to emphasize your communication skills and demonstrate a healthy dose of stick-to-itiveness if you’re light on negotiation experience.
Skill 3: Multi-tasking
Real Job Description Quote: “Excellent organizational skills and attention to detail; proven ability to handle multiple projects while setting appropriate priorities to achieve goals.”
It’s no surprise that employers are looking for people who can keep multiple events straight – the job descriptions we aggregated ranged from managing anywhere from 30 to 500 events in a single year. Either way, jobs in event planning require you to be an expert multitasker.
Interestingly enough, employers are often turning to other high-stakes, high-volume positions to find these superhumans. Michelle Comer, with Messina Group – a staffing and consulting firm – says, “Clients like to see candidates who have held elevated administrative positions with meeting planning experience. It’s always a plus when people have hotel experience.”
Never underestimate the power of transferability when it comes to job skills.
Skill 4: Budgeting
Real Job Description Quote: “…carefully monitoring expenses throughout the planning process to adhere to established budgets; determine new and innovative ways to reduce costs associated with events.”
Did you catch that? In our search, we found that employers are not just looking for people who can maintain a budget – they want budget streamliners that can identify efficiencies and save money where it counts. Proving you’re a professional budgeter may take more than saying, “Well, I can balance a checkbook.” (Does anyone have a checkbook anymore?)
Richard O’Malley, lead at The O’Malley Project, believes that jobs in event planning all come down to an eventual bottom line. “Maybe you have amazing corporate connections or your address book looks like a page at TMZ. Either way, business owners always want people who can make them money. How will you increase revenue streams?”
If it’s your connections or your frugality – make sure your next potential employer knows you’ve got revenue at the forefront of your planning process.
Looking for additional information on budgeting? Download the free Event Budgeting eBook below for tons of tips.
Skill 5: Customer Service
Real Job Description Quote: “Exceptional customer service skills with the ability to cultivate, nurture and maintain valuable partnerships.”
Chances are that if you’re seriously looking at jobs in event planning, you’re quite the people person. If you’re not a people person, you probably know how to tap into that side of yourself when it counts. Much like budgeting, customer service keeps companies in the black. Employers know that great customer service breeds great partnerships, and great partnerships breed great revenue.
Stephanie Sica knew that wedding planning was the right fit for her because it’s all about the client. “I personally love love, and being a part of the most special moments in clients-turned-friends’ lives.”
Once you’ve proven you can build lasting relationships, you’ve proven you can source lasting revenue streams.
Skill 6: Creativity
Job Description Quote: “A creative eye and an attention to detail is a must. We’re looking for industrious problem solvers and big dreamers.”
From concept to execution, it’s going to take an exceptional amount of creativity to pull off your events. Jobs in event planning are never dull so, needless to say, your concepts and solutions can’t afford to be either. Creativity is the fun part, and your unique style is what’s going to distinguish you from the rest.
Richard O’Malley’s take on creativity is – naturally – uniquely creative. “Just watching David Tutera on TV and changing the color palette won’t fly. You need to bring a unique perspective to the design process. It has to be unique and something that people want to buy.”
Turning skills into jobs in event planning
At the end of the day, jobs in event planning are more than a simple set of skills – but knowing what employers are looking for will help you focus your energies and structure your personal pitch when trying to lock down that job you’ve been dreaming of.
What skills do you value as an event planner? How did you snag your sweet event planning job? Share your story in the comments!