By Robert Kenward, Fitability® Recruiter and Founder of TheHub.Jobs
This is probably the best time ever to get into the events industry; a lot of talent has left and many businesses don’t have the budget to employ people with lots of experience, so therefore there are more graduate level and junior jobs available.
Also, in a strange way, all the focus on the sector being left behind has actually shone a light on an industry people still didn’t previously see as a viable career option. People have had their eyes opened up to the wonderful opportunities there are and in turn this has attracted people that might not have looked before.
As an industry recruitment expert with 21 years of experience, EVCOM invited me to share some of my advice to help industry newcomers to land that crucial first role.
Do your research
It is such a big industry, with many sectors and nuances so you need to work out which sector could be right for you. Ask yourself: what am I good at? What do I enjoy doing? And where have I had positive feedback in the past? When you’ve got the answers to these questions, it becomes easier to hone down and focus on a subdivision of the industry and you can start to target the right companies.
Don’t work for free, but do volunteer
There’s a key difference between working for free and volunteering. I don’t believe in unpaid internships; some may be legitimate, but so often they are abused. Volunteering to work on an event could give you valuable experience though. If you are going to work for free make sure it’s beneficial to both parties. What are you learning from it? What are they giving you? If you are offering to work somewhere for two weeks to get some experience, negotiate and ask for some face time with the CEO, or the head of events so you can ask their advice and talk to them about your career. Make sure you get a testimonial (on LinkedIn) at the end of the event.
When you’re in the team, ask questions politely and respectfully, but get the answers to them. If the person you’re speaking to isn’t giving you the answer, then ask them ‘who can answer my question?’ and also use that time to scout internally! Get in touch with other divisions and find out about other roles, and other people to speak to.
Use your network
Who is in your community? Who do you know who could introduce you to people, or tell you who to speak to that could help you? Many of you will be behind the eight ball already if you are applying for jobs without any experience, so when approaching companies, don’t ask outright if there are any jobs – because the answer will likely be no. Instead ask who’s in the company that you can speak to that will benefit from your skills. Find them and tell them how you can make their lives easier, and how you will make them look good!
Things have changed; you don’t have to move to London any more
Geographical location used to be such a barrier but as working from home some days becomes the norm, you now just have to prove that you are flexible and tackle questions before they arise: before they say “Oh you’re in Manchester, we’re in London,” say to them, “I’m in Manchester, but I can get to London two days a week.”
Be prepared for a lot of rejection
You have to understand that you’re going to get a lot of rejection. It won’t be personal, so you don’t need to be emotive about it. But if you’ve done your research and if you’ve planned properly, you will reduce the number of rejections you get.
Your CV is your marketing document
Your CV won’t get you the job, but it will get you a foot in the door and an interview. You are going to have to do what you have to do to get in front of people; because before they interview you, they don’t care about you, but when they actually meet you, you then become a person and you are more than words on a piece of paper.
Try not to have your CV look like a job description for your past employers, but do break your experience down and elaborate. If you do have some experience, you need to really make the most of it. Don’t lie on your CV but bigging yourself up to get in the door is fine (as long as you can back it up), but make sure your experience sounds relatable to what your potential employer does. Make sure it relates to something they could need, that could add value to them and make their lives easier, and once you are in-front of the company you can explain more and discuss. For example, don’t just say you volunteered at Glastonbury; tell them what you did there. You may have just been checking ticket stubs, but you could say that you were head of security! Once you have the interview you can explain more. They might say “well, that’s not what we thought” but by then you’re in front of them and you can chat to them about it.
For more advice, including a downloadable CV template see here
‘Tidy up’ your social media accounts
Go back over the last six to 12 months and make sure you delete any ‘vomiting on shoes’ photos! You’ll still want your personality to shine through, and you are allowed a social life, but do remove any photos that you wouldn’t want a potential employer to see! It’s not ideal, but you will get checked out so you’d best be prepared for it.
Consider an apprenticeship
I think apprenticeships have their place, but there has to be an end goal. There has to be measurable, actionable milestones that once ticked off, you can move to the next stage, and that there will be a job at the end of it. Otherwise, it’s just an internship by another name.
Join the relevant industry association and get involved
Many associations have student membership and opportunities for people starting out to get involved. You will be getting access to their training and their knowledge and you will be able to network and meet likeminded people – and even potential employers. Get involved and volunteer at their events and make the most of that experience on your CV.
Get on and use LinkedIn
It’s not as boring as it once was, trust me and you’ll need to ensure your profile is up to date and active. Be proactive, go out and hunt down the movers and shakers, the influencers in the industry and connect with them, follow them and you can use their reach to amplify your reach. Join the relevant groups and build your community. Build your own profile and show your personality, be kind, share information and news that you have found interesting or beneficial.
Be armed with information
Subscribe to newsletters, to mailshots and to all the industry publications. You could subscribe to five publications and you’d get more information sent to you than you could if you’d spent 2 weeks researching. Get up to speed with what’s going on, learn the acronyms, the trends and the industry commentators.
There’s a lot more advice and resources on The Hub – the only industry specific people and job board. Good luck with your job hunting and feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn!
About Robert Kenward (Fitability® Recruiter at YOU Search & Select and Founder of The Hub.Jobs)
Robert Kenward is a recruitment expert specialising in senior hires within the events, mice and experiential sectors. He is an experienced speaker, mentor, moderator, industry commentator and EDI advocate. With over 21 years’ experience of the recruitment and events sectors, Robert brings a direct and pragmatic approach to recruitment. Robert lives in Brighton, UK with his wife and most weekends you can find him building Lego or on the water with their two young sons.
Robert’s Linked in profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robertkenwardeventprofs/
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