Obtaining a Salaried Position
The most common way to start out in event planning is through a salaried position with an established company. The first step to finding a salaried position is to narrow your search by asking yourself these questions:
What is my ideal work schedule?
In what social settings am I most comfortable?
Am I a hands-on type of worker or do I prefer to delegate?
Am I a self-motivating starter or task-oriented team player?
Am I looking to put my creative skills to use?
What type of setting would I enjoy?
If you think of yourself as more of an office person who likes your nights and weekends off, then corporate event planning may be the path for you. Your ideal job will very likely be with a university, corporation, hospital, museum, or fundraising company.
Once you have established your target field, you will need a resume. Your resume should list your education and last three jobs. In addition, you will want to list any events in which you might have previously worked. Being that event planning has such a heavy emphasis on organization, it would also be a good idea to list any office experience that you have had as well as any creative experience. Working alongside a caterer, florist, or photographer would be worth mentioning for creative experience. Jobs in the hospitality industry will also be worth mentioning. Event-planning companies look for assistants with all types of backgrounds. It is also worth mentioning if you have had some experience in public relations, marketing, or advertising.
The Internet and newspapers are the most popular places to look for a job. Temp agencies can also be a good resource for a job search in event planning — use them as a final measure since they will deduct part of your income as a fee. A new hotel, banquet facility, or restaurant in your area will be looking for new event planners before the doors even open.
Once you have developed your resume, you will need to have a strategy for interviewing. After you have sent your resume out, it is a good idea to follow up with a call to the general manager, operations manager, owner, or human resources department.
Congratulations! You have a job interview. This most likely means your prospective employer is impressed with your resume. Rarely will companies take the time to interview unqualified applicants.
The outfit you wear to an interview can speak volumes about you to a prospective employer. Dress in neat business attire. Dry-clean your outfit and pick it up two days before the interview. Some event companies are notoriously casual in dress, but you are trying to make an impression. You should leave the jeans, T-shirts, and flip-flops at home.
Before your interview, take some time to research the company interviewing you. The company's Web site should provide you with a brief history of the company. You should also make notes about your experience, work ethic, and job skills. Use these cheat sheets to practice speaking about yourself in the days leading up to the interview. Following is a list of questions frequently asked during an interview:
How did you hear about this company?
Can you tell me a little about your job background or experience?
What about event planning interests you?
Where do you see yourself in five years?
What skills can you offer this company?
Can you describe yourself in a work environment?
If I were interviewing your family members and former colleagues, what would they likely say about you?
The day of your interview has arrived. Do not be late! Bring a magazine in case you are too early. Ideally you should arrive at the office or meeting place fifteen minutes early for the interview. When sitting across from your prospective employer, be sure to make eye contact. Avoid using filler words such as “like” and “um.” Smile and be upbeat upon the first handshake but listen intently while you are being spoken to. The time might come in the interview for you to ask questions. It is important that you have a few questions ready to appear interactive. If your interviewer has been especially thorough, thank her and let her know she has covered everything. Following is a list of questions to ask a prospective employer.
What are the hours?
What is an average day like for someone in this position?
What is the dress code?
What will I be expected to wear for events?
Can you tell me a little about the benefits package?
Once the interview has ended, inquire about what happens next in the hiring process. Thank your interviewer for her time and convey the message that you hope to hear back from her. The instant you get home, write your interviewer a thank-you note, and be sure to put your contact phone number on the bottom. If the company is interviewing other applicants, the decision process can take two weeks or longer. It is acceptable to check back after two weeks and inquire about the status of the job.