As an event planner, you’re a natural at writing to-do lists, focusing on the minor details, generating big ideas, and problem-solving on the fly. But when faced with the task of writing a resume, do you freeze up like a swan ice sculpture at one of your events?
This is common, whether you’re a seasoned event design professional or just launching your career in event planning. How do you convey your many skills and show-stopping events on one page?
Don’t worry: We’re here to help you shift your problem-solving prowess to your resume. Equipped with the must-haves on an event planning resume, you’ll be able to apply your signature flair to this task too.
1. Event planning resume keywords
Keywords are critical for resumes that will no doubt undergo review by software that includes artificial intelligence (AI). Most companies now use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATSs) which, among other tasks, scan incoming resumes for pre-determined keywords. Only those resumes with the best-matching keywords get passed along for further review by a human.
Pro-tip: Include many of these same keywords on your LinkedIn profile, so you can apply for jobs directly through the platform and attract the attention of event industry recruiters.
Use specific job listings to guide your choice of keywords. Look carefully at the overall job description and the ‘qualifications’ section. Make a list of five to ten descriptors or qualifications the employer mentions specifically in the posting. Common keywords include the names of event planning software, essential hard and soft skills (see below!), or particular wording like ‘event coordination.’
If a keyword has an abbreviation, include both the abbreviation and the full version on your resume. For instance, include ‘Bachelor of Arts in Marketing’ as well as ‘B.A. in Marketing.’
Look for places to include essential keywords two to three times. For example, you might list your B.A. in Marketing in your objective and then give it another mention in the education section, switching to the alternate wording for the second instance.
Bonus tips to keep your event planner resume ATS-friendly:
- Don’t go overboard with formatting or add images.
- Keep the font simple: Arial, Times New Roman, or similar classic fonts are great.
- Double-check what format the employer requests. If the job listing requires a .doc upload rather than .pdf, chances are the ATS will reject your resume in .pdf.
2. Event planning resume objective or summary
You’ve got seconds to make an impression—hiring managers spend less than 10 seconds reviewing resumes before deciding which ones to consider further.
The objective or summary section is where you grab the attention of the hiring manager after you’ve met the threshold of the ATS. Keywords remain important here, but so do details that show you can get the job done in this notoriously stressful profession. Here’s when to use each, and what to include:
Event planner resume with experience
If you’re experienced, use a summary. Tailor your keywords to the listing: Do they say they are looking for someone adaptable? High-energy? Able to multitask? Then use specific numbers wherever possible.
- WEAK: Planned outstanding events
- STRONG: Planned over 30 successful events with budgets between $5,000 and $100,000
- WEAK: Secured business donations to help with fundraiser
- STRONG: Secured over $6,000 in donations of goods and services for annual fundraiser
- WEAK: Coordinated training seminars
- STRONG: Coordinated 5 training seminars for audiences of up to 50
Each example uses active language alongside data-supported outcomes to give a clear sense of your capabilities and the scope of your experience. And don’t worry, when it comes to numbers, bigger isn’t necessarily better. Managing small events and large events require different skills. Employers simply want to know the parameters you have worked within—and being upfront about your experience is your best bet.
Event planner resume with no experience
If you have no direct experience with event planning and you’re looking for an entry-level position, use an objective instead of a summary. Because this takes up valuable real estate at the top of your resume, it must paint a picture so hiring decision-makers can ‘see’ your promise.
Focus on the experiences in your background that transfer to event planning. Were you given the responsibility of organization office holiday parties, or known for your ability to juggle moving pieces in a fast-paced environment? Put in the relevant keywords, and use numbers where possible.
- WEAK: I seek an entry-level position where I can use my enthusiasm, organization, and passion for event planning to benefit your company.
- STRONG: I seek the opportunity to contribute my Bachelor’s in Business Management and my passion for event planning to the team at JKL Company. Past employers praise my organization and interpersonal skills: I was responsible for a monthly stock budget of $1,250 and was a top-rated employee for customer service 2018 and 2019.
3. Event planning work experience
Reverse chronological organization (listing the most recent work experience first) is the safest bet for most event planner resumes. Hiring managers want to learn about your latest projects because they understand your skills build upon your experiences. This structure answers the question ‘what are you capable of now?’
For each job you list, think about what you achieved and describe the top two outcomes.
- WEAK: Director of Fundraising: Organized dessert raffles, fundraising dinners, fall fun runs and golf fundraisers
- STRONG: Director of Fundraising: Increased participation in the Fall Fun Run by 33 percent in my first year, and maintained that participation the following year. Grew golf fundraiser ROI by 85 percent.
Reverse chronological is also a good choice if you’re switching gears from a background with no direct event planning experience. List your employment, and highlight one or two accomplishments, functions, or skills most similar to the tasks and skills described in the job listing.
- WEAK: Business Office Manager. Handled daily, monthly and annual business operations of the school, including accounts receivable, accounts payable, budgeting, and payroll.
- STRONG: Business Office Manager. Used top-notch organizational skills to handle accounts receivable budget of $2.9 million. Enhanced morale of staff and students with outstanding people skills: Awarded “Most Cheerful” in 2019 yearbook.
If you are self-employed as an event planner, a resume organized by event type under ‘Work Experience’ can help you demonstrate positive metrics for different situations. List the number of weddings you’ve planned, for example, along with the percentage of couples who rated you four or five stars. Next, outline the fundraisers you’ve planned with the year-over-year increase in ROI for each. This approach makes an excellent pairing with the visuals of an event planning portfolio.
4. Event planning skills list
Begin with the well-known soft skills essential to event planning: time management, organization, and people skills, for example. Pay particular attention to the job description to determine skills they haven’t called out exactly, but clearly want in a new event planner. For instance, if they mention that their firm is a fast-paced environment, include ‘meet deadlines under pressure.’
Other event planning soft skills to include:
- Attention to detail
- Clear communication
- Strong contract negotiator
- Proven ability to step into a leadership role
Though these are ‘soft skills,’ look for ways to quantify them. Negotiating vendor discounts relies on people skills to save money, which is a double win for your prospective employer. Can you give a dollar amount or percentage you have saved for a particular event?
Next, take a look at your ‘hard skills.’ Include your expertise in event planning software, email marketing, and social media. Name your skills specifically—in many instances they will be important keywords—and quantify your successes utilizing them.
- Social media: Increased followers on Twitter by 150 percent.
- Event planning software: Implemented Social Tables and increased event revenue by 15 percent.
Finally, think about what’s good about you, in particular, that may stand out from the crowd. Perhaps, you planned a romantic, destination wedding with an impossible turnaround time. It wasn’t impossible for you. Illustrate how you made it happen through a bridal atelier partnership and a knack for finding and collaborating with top event service providers abroad.
5. Event planning certifications
Event planning certifications are expected in this industry. Include all of your relevant training and certifications. If you are still working towards a degree or certification, clarify that it’s in progress and the timeline for completion.
Event planning certifications:
- Certified Meeting Professional (CMP)
- Destination Management Certified Professional (DMCP)
- Certified Social Tables Event Professional (CSTEP)
- Certified Government Meeting Professional (CGMP)
- Certified Special Events Professional (CSEP)
Explore other valuable certifications for event planners in our rundown of 20 hospitality certifications.
6. The nice-to-haves on an event planner resume
Here’s where you share your interests outside of event planning and let your personality shine through. You may have one or all of these possibilities in your toolbox, but be sure to include them. Many are helpful to have as an event planner, and hiring managers are on the lookout for interesting, well-rounded candidates.
Possible ‘extras’ to include:
- A second (or third) language
- Volunteer work
Put your event planner resume on your ‘to-do list’ today and tackle it with the same gusto you put into your events. It won’t be long before you have an event planning gig that’s the perfect match for your skills.
Now your event planner resume is ready to shine!
For help finding more great job listings, check out this collection of the 10 best resources for finding event planning jobs. Or, get a leg up on preparing for an interview with these 20 event planning interview questions and answers.