Attention Career Changers: You’ve Got More Creative Career Skills Than You Think
Something we’re often asked is: “Is it possible to move to a creative career following previous roles, or even another sector entirely?” Happily, our response is that it’s always entirely possible, especially if you’re looking at event management as your creative career option, because you’ll be bringing with you many transferable skills you’ve been developing in your previous roles or career!
So what does your transferable toolkit look like?
When it comes to a quick survey of your current skills, it can be helpful to know which ones transfer successfully into creative careers – in this case, event management. So, what follows is a quick checklist of core competencies which all successful event managers demonstrate:
- Organisation and planning skills
- Ability to multi-task (including across multiple projects)
- Creative problem solving
- Attention to detail
- Ability to work under pressure, including prioritising across schedules and deadlines
- Negotiation, sales and marketing
- Financial awareness
- Communication skills
- Working to targets and ensuring outcomes
- Research and evaluation skills – including data collection and analysis
- Leadership and project management skills
- Technology skills … including website and social media development
… oh, and a sense of humour, something no event manager should be without!
Now, this isn’t a checklist, in that if you haven’t got all these, then you should stay put – not at all! It’s just an at-a-glance view of some of the skills you’re likely to have been honing, which will give you a great starting point for your new career.
In fact, many skills on our list also feature in Glassdoor.com’s latest list of impressive skills to include on your CV, another sign for career changers that these competencies transfer successfully across a range of sectors and roles.
But how are they specifically relevant to a creative career such as event management?
Corporate, financial and business career skills
Previous careers in the corporate world, finance, business, and marketing all involve developing many of those skills above which transfer well into event management roles. For example:
- Any leadership skills cross over well, as a production manager will lead whole teams and also be responsible for budgets and the timelines.
- Contemporary business roles all include the use of technology, so technological experience from running digital marketing campaigns to setting up and leading conference calls in an international corporation transfer successfully – and can even get you noticed – in the management of live and broadcast events.
Communications and PR career skills
Did we mention … digital communication is big in events? Any previous career in communications or PR could mean you offer strong skills which could take you into specialist areas such as digital technology for user-engagement and promotion, both real growth areas in creative careers generally, and the events sector specifically.
Event Academy Director, Lorne Armstrong has seen how the digital aspect of events has grown and the opportunities that work-ready skills in digital communications can bring when breaking into event management:
“… organisations need someone who’s able to fill the holes they have for pulling digital into live [engagement] – that’s a really important piece. If you can do that, then you can probably get a job [in events] no problem.”
Hospitality career skills
Practical hospitality skills transfer well into event management because most events you can think of include a level of hospitality – from basic refreshments, to fully catered events with accommodation and organisational support.
Hospitality skills including catering competencies, such as menu organisation, managing supply, and contractors, negotiation and budgeting. All of these are directly relevant to event management because they involve practical management, numeracy, and communication skills (in a catering context) which are all fundamental to event management.
To check this out, Hospitality Guild UK offers an interesting interactive map on other industries which are complemented by a hospitality career path – including events.
This is also true of previous careers in leisure and tourism, where experience and sound practice in organising people and activities across different environments can be invaluable in successful event management. Especially as many hospitality, leisure and tourism roles include working alongside or leading teams of people, essential skills in event management, where no project is successful without a well-managed team!
People-based and administration career skills
HR roles, teaching, nursing, care and many retail roles all involve a high level of customer / client-facing skills, which mean you offer plenty of practice in:
- Communication in a range of ways, including email, face-to-face, digital and report writing;
- Organisation skills, including your own and others’ schedules;
- Use of technology, particularly the use of computer and digital hardware and software to support all of the above.
As such, many customer and service-user facing roles give you vital understanding and experience of communication, working within and organising teams, all to timescales. These are essential skills in event management, where you can be dealing with clients, contractors, customers, and colleagues across every hour of every event.
Topping up the toolkit
Of course, when you’re moving into a new career, no one expects you to have all of the necessary skills straightaway. However, there are certain things you can do to extend your skills in the context of your new creative career. For instance, to make a move into event management, you might consider:
- Gaining experience through volunteering at events.
- Taking an event management course which focuses on experiential learning, to further develop these skills within the specific context of organising live events.
- Taking courses which address those skills gaps which are directly relevant to an area of event management, such as digital technology or marketing. Marketing is the key skill area which underpins most creative careers: if you’re part of it, it really helps to be able to bring it to market! Maximising your marketing skills is a sure-fire way of opening opportunities up for yourself across most creative career options and can also help boost your skills in promoting yourself when it comes to breaking into a creative career.
Oh, and a final word about transferable skills: one of the key things if you’re considering a move into a creative career, but aren’t 100% sure whether you want to work in events or not, is that event managers are incredibly versatile and talented professionals, so by gaining experience and qualifications in event management you’ll be further developing your skills in a busy context which can make them even more transferable and valuable later on, whatever creative career you decide to branch into!
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