Event planning is a diverse field that encompasses many niches and special skills. That said, it can be difficult to know what event planning companies and clients want to see on resumes. Whether they’re seasoned professionals or beginners, most people in this industry feel pretty lost when it comes to crafting the ideal resume. To complicate matters further, event planning is highly competitive, so it’s vital to stand out from others in line for your job. As insiders, we’re glad to share the key experiences and skills that event businesses want to see on resumes.
Remember: No matter what your level of experience is, the main objective of writing a resume is to show potential employers how you stand out from the competition. The best resumes describe specific talents and abilities, and highlight unique areas of experience and/or expertise. Event companies want detailed, specific information about your past history, training, skills, and personality. In other words, they want to know exactly who you are and what you can do for them. It doesn’t matter if you’re new to the business or an old industry pro- here’s how to create a resume that surpasses current industry standards and distinguishes you from the competition.
Breaking the Ice: Entry Level Resumes
If you’re new to the field and seeking an entry level position, tap into the natural reserve of creativity that all event planners have, and put the spotlight on the skills you learned in training. We recommend sitting down to do a thorough self-assessment on paper before writing your resume. This way, you can decide what skills, experiences, and education are relevant to prospective employers.
If you didn’t earn a degree in event planning, which not everyone in this industry does, you can highlight skills and experiences you obtained in other areas of study or life experience. It may or may not come as a surprise to you that some event planners get started by earning an “influencer” status and organizing events on social media, which is now a leading networking tool.
For example, if you have a degree in communications and have worked in that field, consider the plethora of skill sets and experiences that encompasses. Have you worked in human resources, had experience collecting formal data, done journalistic work, or networked professionally? Have you had frequent contact with the event planning, food, or entertainment industries? This is a big one: Even if you’re fresh out of school or training and have had no professional experience, are you proficient in relevant technologies? Think AI, VR, graphic design, data collection software, and even using social media to promote yourself. In an experiential market, being able to build niche audiences and long-term, meaningful relationships with them is an invaluable skill.
If you’ve had experience working in any customer service industry, you probably have valuable “people” skills, such as the ability to negotiate, relate to diverse populations, adapt to the needs of others, and work in a team setting. The ability to multi-task is also vital to an event planner, so if you’ve had extensive experience in this area, describe it in detail. Much of event planning requires flexibility, quick thinking, and problem solving with clients, vendors, staff members, and various other professionals. These are all skills that customer service or sales professionals tend to develop in abundance over time.
All of that said, writing down a broad list of skills is not enough. For example, if you’re seeking an entry level position, it’s a good idea to share objectives as well as experiences in the summary section. But it would be inadequate to say, “I am seeking an entry level position where I can utilize my strong organizational and social media management skills to benefit your company.”
Think about that sentence. It describes general skills that many people have in very little detail. An employer will wonder, “What are this person’s specific organizational and social media management skills?” Unless employers know exactly what your skill sets are and how you’ve used them in the past, they’ll have no idea whether or how you could benefit their company.
A better sentence would be, “I seek an opportunity to use my organizational and social media management skills to be a strong marketing and promotional influence in event promotion at Such and Such Company.” Naming the company that you’re applying to shows a vested interest in working for them, not just contributing your skills to any job. The above sentence also describes in detail how you would use your specialized skill set to be an asset to the company.
Writing a Resume with Experience
If you have entry level, intermediate, or advanced experience, your summary should clearly define your past positions and experiences. Remember, different titles can mean different things to potential employers, so describe your responsibilities in detail. Think about the positions and daily responsibilities you’ve held, and consider any significant accomplishments you achieved. For example’s sake, let’s say you worked as a development coordinator for a nonprofit organization. Here’s what you wouldn’t want to say:
“As Development Coordinator at Such and Such Company, I routinely organized fundraising dinners, galas, raffles, and sporting events.” For one thing, this description doesn’t stand out- nearly every development coordinator in the history of the position has had similar, if not exactly the same, experiences. Instead, get more specific about your duties, and think about specific contributions or accomplishments you made to the company.
You might go with, “As Development Coordinator, I increased participation in the Community Animal Shelter Dog Show by 45 percent, and grew the event’s ROI by 30 percent.” You could go on to describe the other key duties you had at that company, such as providing administrative assistance to the CEO and supporting the administrative functions of the development team. That describes your experience in much more detail, and provides evidence of your capability in specific areas that relate to the position you’re applying for.
Building Your Portfolio: Must-Have Experiences for Event Planners
Naturally, it takes time to build experiences that top the list of qualifications that event planning businesses are looking for on resumes. We get that, and so do they. Everyone in every industry starts somewhere, which is one reason why the well-written resume is so integral to success. But now that we’ve discussed what the summary should contain for beginners and seasoned professionals, let’s talk a little bit about the skills and experiences every event planner should build over time.
1. Organizing Small Events
When it comes to event planning experience, bigger isn’t always better. Don’t hesitate to include experiences organizing or coordinating events for smaller groups. The event industry is largely experiential, and so is its largest customer base: millennials. Planning a small benefit dinner for less than 100 people may sound easier than organizing a charity concert with thousands of guests- and in some ways it is. But in other ways, smaller groups present unique challenges that develop skills that are vital to succeeding in an experiential market.
The main takeaway: Smaller groups = more personalized experiences. Organizing and promoting events for smaller groups gives you a greater opportunity to cater to individual needs. For example, it’s much easier to send regular personalized content to an email list of 50 people than 500. It’s becoming an increasingly popular practice to send specific individuals emails with content they would enjoy based on their shared interests.
For example, if an individual spent more time at one vendor than another at your past events, you’ll want to send that person information about that vendor in the future- especially if the vendor will be featured at a future event of yours. Or if someone frequently visits a landing page dedicated to a specific topic, you can tailor future emails to that individual with information about that topic as it pertains to your company. If the majority of your attendees show a sustained interest in a specific aspect of a topic, you might tailor future breakout sessions to that topic at conferences.
Today, tracking software allows businesses to collect personalized information about large groups of customers. But generally speaking, the smaller your group, the more time you have to interact with them personally, and the more you can tailor your content to individual needs and interests.
2. Organizing Large Events
That said, it’s also important to gain experience planning and working larger events. Handling larger events showcases superior organizational skills and multitasking abilities. A day in the life of an event planner typically begins before sunrise and ends long after sunset. It involves continuing conversations with venue owners, a variety of vendors, event staff, clients, and more. Event planners have to be expert communicators and problem solvers who know how to negotiate and relate to many different personality types, including difficult ones, which they encounter on a regular basis. This requires a level of flexibility and adaptability that increases with exposure to larger, more diverse groups.
Personalizing events for larger groups is challenging- especially when you consider how little time daily tasks leave for analyzing data and creating content and experiences that reflect that information. But in an experiential market, knowing how to use technology that provides this type of information is vital to success. More and more events are relying on event apps that improve navigation and customize the attendee experience at events.
An example of personalization at a large event: If your event features multiple keynote speakers, making people choose just one triggers major FOMO- or fear of missing out, which today’s attendees have in abundance. Instead, allow your guests to toggle between speakers using headphones. Silent conferences give you the ability to have more speakers in the same room at the same time. Even when more than one speaker is presenting in the same room, you can allow guests to tune into the speaker of their choice, or switch back and forth between speakers. This option can even eliminate the need for separate breakout spaces or sessions. This is a skill you can only experience by managing a moderately sized to large event.
Larger events require you to play, delegate, and organize more roles. To accommodate many people, many of whom are not acquainted prior to the event, requires you to facilitate pre-event interactions on social media in the weeks before your event. Giving guests the opportunity to get to know each other- and the key players at your event- before you go live is important. It facilitates networking opportunities and allows guests to solidify their objectives; very few attendees want to be thrown into a crowd unprepared, especially if they’re there to network or learn professional development skills.
As busy as you’ll be, you won’t be able to implement all the marketing and promotions strategies alone. You’ll need to delegate various tasks to different staff members, and sometimes it’s best to hire a marketing team. Needless to say, you’ll need to communicate frequently with your team before and during your event. You’ll also need to hire and work with a technology team to manage acoustics, AI, and/or virtual and augmented reality during your event. Needless to say, large events require unique subsets of skills and a superior multi-tasking ability. And when you’ve mastered these, event planning businesses have a great sigh of relief when they see them on your resume!
As mentioned briefly above, marketing also requires more effort and strategizing for larger events, which brings us to our next must-have skill: marketing.
3. Building Marketing Skills and Experience
This is a huge one. Without the creativity, social networking skills, and technological proficiency that experiential marketing requires, events would all flop. Event planning businesses want to know that you have what it takes to promote small and large events. They also want to know that you have a unique personality and way of relating to people that will spotlight the personality of the company. Experiential marketing is all about interacting personally and creating meaningful, long-term relationships with niche audiences.
How do you do this? It’s simple, but that doesn’t make it easy. You build relationships by aligning yourself with the values of your niche audiences and personalizing your content based on their needs. And the only way to accomplish those things is by interacting with them on a regular basis. That means so much more than using software to analyze their behaviors and target content and promotions based on demographic and psychographic information. Yes, analyzing data and keeping up with the fluid, ever-changing needs of your customers is crucial. But the heart and soul of a company is its unique relationships with its customers, which are formed through personal interactions.
That’s where social media and events come into play. Do you have a long history of connecting to your customers and improving event attendance by connecting to customers across social media platforms? If so, this is an invaluable asset to include on your resume.
And we know you’re pressed for time, but monitor your social media activity. Measure which content generated the most leads or product sales as pertains to your event. Cultivate experience measuring revenue versus overhead cost, and include specific budgeting skills on your resume. Make a habit of following up events with post-event surveys that ask open-ended questions, which glean more information than multiple choice queries.
Have you consistently boosted ticket sales for a specific event by using a specific marketing strategy? What leads have your marketing strategies generated in the past? If you scored a notable sponsor for an event, describe how you did it and the significance of the accomplishment for the company.
4. Embracing Your Inner Geek
We already went quite a bit of detailed information about the tech skills event planners need to be successful. But let’s summarize: As an event planner, you’ll need to gain experience with AI, VR, AR, event management software, and audio/visual stage enhancements. You’ll also need to be able to manage websites and email programs. Yes, event technology is constantly evolving. Most companies provide training programs to teach employees how to use emergent technologies. But that doesn’t mean they want to waste their time training new employees to use basic technologies or those that have become an industry standard.
And remember, don’t just list your tech skills; describe them in a way that makes you stand out from the competition. Describe how you’ve integrated specific, relevant technologies into your personal and professional life. Briefly explain how they’ve been an asset to your work for previous companies.
How SEO Impacts Your Resume (Yes, It Really Does)
We can almost hear the collective sigh of people reading this, and we can relate. SEO has got to be the least creative, inspired part of an event planner’s life. But what many people don’t know is that resumes are reviewed by software that uses artificial intelligence. Most companies now utilize Applicant Tracking Systems that scan resumes for pre-set keywords that indicate valuable skills. It just makes it easier for employers to find relevant skills in hundreds of resumes without having to read them all word by word (an impossible task).
If you have your own website or LinkedIn profile, include many of the same keywords you use on those pages. This makes you stand out to recruiters in your industry, and makes it easy for employers to track your skills and experience.
Now that you know what you need to focus on, it’s time to begin. Since people tend to forget the majority of what they learned by reading, feel free to reference this post as often as you need to during the process. You’ve got this. Happy writing!