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Tips for recruiting and empowering young event professionals with Naomi Hollas, Event Grads

We’re firm believers that Gen Z and young people add a lot of value to our sector and individual organisations. However, if we are to attract them to our industry, it’s important to take the time to understand them.

From their personal and professional values to eagerness to get stuck in and learn, and prowess when it comes to all things digital, it’s key that we create the right working environments so that they can thrive in the long term.

With this in mind, we recently spoke with Naomi Hollas of Event Grads, a community and support network for event management students and graduates that she launched in June 2020, in response to the pandemic.

What do Gen Z look for in an employer when joining the event industry?

Transparency. Whether it’s the salary, location or expectations, not only does disclosing this information from the outset attract your target candidates, they are more prepared and know what to expect from the recruitment process and the role itself.

This also helps to avoid wasting both the recruiter and candidate’s time if they aren’t the fit right for the potential employer.

What are some of the key questions Gen Z / young people have about the event industry?

On speaking with our Event Grads community, these include:

  • What experience, skills and knowledge do recruiters and employers look for in young event professionals?
  • What is the best way for young people to showcase and demonstrate their experience, knowledge and skills?
  • Where can young people find the ideal work experience for entry-level roles?
  • What are all the many roles, sectors and employer options out there in the event industry?
  • What does the ideal candidate look like to event industry employers?

What can event agencies / event marketing teams do to appeal to young people?

Gen Z are a very conscious generation. They care a lot about your CSR policies, DEI and wellbeing initiatives, and ethical and sustainability values. They can see right through this if it’s just a tick box exercise.

If your organisation doesn’t align with their values then they are unlikely to apply for your jobs.

Additional opportunities that should be standard within organisations to attract young people are:

  • A salary that’s reflective of their job role, skills and responsibilities
  • Flexible working opportunities
  • Personal and professional development opportunities
  • Further training opportunities
  • Mentorship

What are some of the key things Gen Z / young people like to do or learn in their roles?

Young people want to gain hands-on, practical experience and get in the thick of the action. They want to have a seat at the table, the ability to contribute their creative ideas, and to be heard.

They want to be given responsibility and be able to utilise their skills and knowledge to contribute to your business and to prove themselves. They don’t want to simply be given the tasks that no one else wants to do.

Are there any barriers you find when it comes to securing a role in the industry?

The event industry unfortunately relies heavily on unpaid internships and volunteering when it comes to entering the industry. However, this is not an accessible or inclusive route as not everyone can volunteer their time (no matter what stage of their career they are at). Unpaid internships are often misused and should be a thing of the past.

Additionally, oftentimes entry-level roles have high experience expectations for a low wage. Young people provide incredible value if employers understand how to translate their knowledge and skills to benefit their business.

For entry-level roles, employers should be looking at a candidate’s proactivity, initiative, passion, commercial awareness and efficiency above exact experience.

Otherwise, is it more of an associate/junior level role you are hiring for? Gen Z are digital natives and quick learners. Hire for attitude, train for skill as they say.

You can learn more about the work of Naomi and Event Grads here.


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