Brendan Cruickshank is a veteran of the online job search and recruiting industry, having spent the past 8 years in senior client services roles with sites like Juju.com and JobsInTheMoney.com. He is quoted regularly as an expert in employment and jobs trends in major media outlets like the Washington Post, US News & World Report, and Forbes and has spoken at recruiting industry events such as Onrec and Kennedy Information’s Corporate Recruiting Conference. Today, Brendan shares his expertise with us on the crucial topic of hiring for your events.
Last October, as President Barack Obama spoke at a women’s conference, the presidential seal fell off the podium and landed with a clatter on the floor in front of him. “They’re sweating bullets back there right now,” the President joked, referring to his staff. He took it well by telling conference attendees, “That’s all right—all of you know who I am.” But do you want to be the staff person behind the scenes sweating bullets?
An event is only as strong as the team putting it together. Your choice of who to hire could not be more important. Your event can help build credibility and a strong reputation for your company or organization. However, it could also be talked about all year because it was overcrowded and understaffed, or because it was the one event of the year where the Presidential seal fell off the podium. You might end up having to scramble to rebuild your organizational reputation.
Don’t let this happen to you! Instead, take steps to make sure you hire good, competent event workers who have plenty of experience with whatever details are important to your event. Here are a few tips:
1. Turn to your network. Talk with your colleagues who have planned similar events in the past. Better yet, talk to the planners of events you have attended that you feel were particularly well-run. Flattery will get you everywhere. Phone the event planner and say how much you admired his or her event, and be sure to point out how smoothly it proceeded. Then ask how the event team was put together. Was it handled in-house? Did the organization turn to a certified meeting planner? Ask for advice. Your contact will probably be very happy to brag to an admiring audience (you!).
2. Consider hiring someone who is certified to plan events. Look for a planner who has the initials CSEP or CMP behind his or her name. CSEP stands for “Certified Special Events Professional,” and it is a certification offered by ISES, the International Special Events Society. CMP stands for “Certified Meeting Planner,” and it is a certification offered by CIC, the Convention Industry Council.
3. Find a venue with a built-in staff. This may be one of the easiest ways to assure that your event is well run. If your event takes place at a conference center or hotel, chances are that there is an on-site event manager who can take charge of your event and provide a staff to deal with details such as catering, accommodations for guests, and on-site coordination and supervision of event staff. You will still need to attend to certain details, but those details are much more manageable once the larger issues have been taken care of.
4. Consider placing special, contained aspects of your event in the hands of professionals. For example, you may want to hire a marketing or PR company to market your event. After all, your marketing efforts do not have to be coordinated with the caterer. Likewise, the design and printing of invitations and brochures can be handled by a printing and design professional.
5. Finally, choose the right number of staffers for your event. Don’t under or overstaff. How do you know how many people to hire? There is no right number of people. The right number for you and your event will depend on how simple, or how complicated, an event you are planning. This is a number that you won’t be able to arrive at on your own. You’ll need to consult everyone who is involved and ask for advice about how much help is needed to take care of different event details, such as food, transportation, entertainment, decorating, clean-up, etc.
Choose the right staffers, and your event will seem as if it is running itself. You won’t have to spend a lot of time micromanaging the details. Good luck and happy planning!