It's tough out there, there is no way to sugar coat it the job market is not what it was only 6 months ago. With some sectors hit harder than others, us in the events industry have still not been given a restart date. Becoming one of the worst hit as a result of coronavirus and Government lockdown. Experienced professionals are being made redundant daily, so what does that mean for graduates that are only just about to look for their first role in events?
The reality is right now you might not get the job you want, if you want to work in events you might not even get into the industry you want. But that’s ok! It may seem like it’s not, you have put so much hard work into your degree after all, but careers are not a linear path.
I’m speaking from my own experience in the hope that it can help some of you new to the event industry navigate this crazy time, and to know you are not alone. I graduated university in 2013 which was one of the worst levels of unemployment since the mid 90s with 7.6% unemployment rate (for comparison 2019 was just 3.8% - statista.com). Graduating into that situation is hard, I was told throughout school all I needed to do to get the job I wanted was work hard, do my Alevels and go to University, then I would walk into a graduate job of choice. It doesn’t work that way! It especially doesn’t work that way after a recession or in current circumstances a pandemic. I took any job I could to pay the bills (I didn’t move back home so I had a flat to pay for) and that job gave me years of experience in a corporate setting and my first taste of working in events by accident.
Look wider than your industry
You might have spent 3-4 years learning all about the events industry, but the beauty of events is they span every industry possible. Think Big Pharma conferences, Fashion Shows, Car product launches, Social Media app pop ups. Taking an entry level admin job right now might not be what you planned or imagined your grad life being, but opportunities come your way when you least expect them.
You will learn new industries, how they work, how they are set up. You could learn how to process contracts, you could learn how to maintain budget sheets, You could get experience managing suppliers.
Taking a job working in a pub, restaurant or call centre teaches you valuable customer service skills.
Do you see where I’m going here? All these things are part of running events and you will gain them without needing to be in the industry, putting you in a better place in 12 months’ time when recruitment hopefully opens back up to get that events job.
Even volunteering has become more competitive as professionals on furlough are trying to keep their skills up to date. But there are opportunities out there as charities especially have seen budgets slashed. If you cannot find a direct charity opportunity but you have a job, ask your manager if you could organise a staff event. This can be on zoom whilst we are still all working from home but even organising a Friday drinks agenda is experience.
Connect with #Eventprofs
It’s no secret I am a big advocate for networking, that’s because it was the best thing I did at the start of my career and I maintain it to this day. This is the prime time and you won’t be affected by location as everything is happening online, it doesn’t matter if you are not based in London you can attend from your own home!
Now it is harder to connect with others through online events as that networking aspect isn’t quite there but some of them do utilise chats. The number one way to connect with other professionals right now. Social Media. It has amazed me how much our online community has come alive since lockdown; everyone is ready and willing to help each other out.
So, create that event industry account on Instagram, make sure your linked in is up to date and use it frequently & connect with people who work at the companies you have on your dream list, but always send personalised notes with your connections. Don’t go in cold!
Create your own Content
Going hand in hand with expanding your social media and making new connections is to create your own content and grow your own following. The future of event roles is looking more hybrid, in particular events and digital marketing. To get noticed in a tough job market you need to be doing something different to stand out but be authentic. Create content that matters to you and that you enjoy, and your personality will shine through.
You probably don’t want to think about continuing studying right now but if your degree didn’t teach you digital marketing or digital event skills, I would really recommend brushing up on them. There are many online courses around, some for free through linked in learning or for a small fee on other platforms, I have been doing a digital marketing diploma through new skills academy.
let me know any other tips you have in the comments!