5 Hiring Tips for Event Staffing (by Tori Lutz)

As anyone who’s put together an event knows, the staff are the cogs that make the machine run. Capable and proactive employees can transform an experience from a good one to a great one, and a single terrible hire can ruin a night for attendees.
A good hiring system is key to running a successful event. By finding the right people, you can put together an event staff that will be ready for any challenges that may come their way. Here, we’ve compiled five key hiring tips to help you get who you want on your team.

1. Know Your Needs
When hiring for any job, it’s important to know what you want. Hiring for event staffing is no different.
By entering the process with a clear idea of the skills and experience you’re looking for, you can save yourself time, money, and the risk of ending up with the wrong type of person. Knowing what you’re looking for stem from a clear vision of what you want your event to be.
Upscale black- or white-tie galas or cocktail parties require different staff than raucous 20s-themed dances or product expos, that much is clear. But this difference needs to be evident in all stages of your hiring process.
Instead of looking for bartenders with a certain number of years of experience, look for what kind of events and venues they have worked at. A bartender who’s serviced dance clubs and concerts will have a different energy and nuances than a bartender who specializes in weddings or restaurant bars. Promo models meant to draw customers in at trade shows are distinct from hosts who are tasked with taking care of guests and acting as concierges.
By approaching hiring not from a sense of checking requirement boxes but with a vision of the overall energy and vibe of your event, you can assemble a more cohesive and applicable staff that will be comfortable in their roles. Make sure to define your needs in a structured way before starting the hiring process and always refer back to an overall vision.

2. Know Your Budget
Running an event is an expensive endeavor. With the right plan, however, you can make that financial investment pay off. Event staffing is a large part of making that work.
Hiring outside staff can seem pricey, but avoid the mistake of skimping on talent or making your current employees pick up the job. Most company employees simply don’t have sufficient qualifications or experience in presenting, greeting people, providing entertainment, and the
like. There’s nothing worse than coming to an event you may have spent money on and feeling awkward or uncomfortable because of the people working the event.
Talent and staffing agencies can provide quotes for their services if you need them. Remember that depending on the costumes or outfits you want your service staff to wear (which is another aspect that should receive attention), you might be charged more or less. More revealing outfits, period-specific attire, or full on formal dress specifications typically tend to cost more.
Budgeting is key when it comes to throwing any sort of event, but oftentimes money allocated to hiring staff is limited by seemingly higher priority expenditures. Venues, equipment, and decoration are usually decided on first, and any leftover funds are used for staffing, so make sure to leave enough room to be able to hire quality individuals.

3. Look for Personality AND Experience
At this point, you know the skillset and experience you need from your staff. You also have a realistic budget set aside for hiring talent. Now what?
With a plan like this in place, it’s easy to find potential hires and draft them immediately. However, an often overlooked aspect of event staff is their attitude and personality, which can’t always be discerned on paper.
Even the most experienced staff member becomes a liability if they cannot work well with others. Teamwork, a positive attitude, flexibility, and a genuine desire to work at your event are essential to building a cohesive team.
Since event staff are usually paid by the hour, the fewer hours you need to onboard and train them the better. A desire to learn, and learn quickly, can save you money. A good attitude and flexibility in your staff members will make them more capable of dealing with any problems that might arise during you event. Authentic interest in your event and joyfulness in their work will translate to guests organically and make your whole event feel more energized.
If you have the chance to interview your candidates, do so, or ask them questions in your application that will help you discover more about their soft skills and mindset.

4. Focus on Training
As mentioned above, training your staff on the day of your event shouldn’t take a long time. The more hours you need event staff for, the more you have to pay them.
That being said, thorough training is one of the most critical parts of running an event. Even if you do end up with some staff members who are a bit less qualified or experienced than others, a good training session can elevate everyone’s performance level. This is also where a
positive learning attitude comes into play. A good middle ground should be found that doesn’t decimate your budget but adequately prepares your team for the event.
To accomplish this, start by compiling a clear and concise information packet that you can send out ahead of time. Contact info, safety standards, any event-specific protocols, maps, etc. can all be included in this, as long as it is necessary and doesn’t overwhelm them. This way, you’ll have a staff on game day that is several steps ahead already, and you most likely won’t have to pay them for any prep work they have done.
In-person training should be used as an opportunity to build your team and make them comfortable with you, your event, and each other. By being straightforward and expressing a clear vision for the event, you can get everyone on the same page and make them feel that they are all working towards a common goal.

5. Go With a National Agency
The internet affords you thousands of options per city when it comes to finding staff, but national agencies might just be your best bet.
Much of the work mentioned above, like personality assessments and experience comparisons, can be done for you by going through an agency. Staffing sites like
PUSH Models
  sort candidates by city, and offer headshots, resumes, and other info that can easily be sorted. Additionally, most agencies have consultants that you can express your vision to and will use that info to find you the right people.
Another benefit of hiring through national agencies is safety and quality guarantees. Most large agencies require background checks on anyone who works for them, so you can rest easy knowing your event is in responsible hands. Additionally, if any of your staff turns out not to be qualified or has a bad attitude during training, the agency may be obligated to send you a better replacement.
Lastly, national agencies make doing a series of events in different places easier, since they’ll already know what you’re looking for and can reach out to similarly experienced individuals in each city.
In conclusion…
Hiring event staff can be difficult, but by focusing on these five areas you can run a successful event with all the right people.
Knowing what and who you want ahead of time is the key to beginning the entire process. By starting from a clear idea of the vibe of your event, you can look for staff that have worked
similar events in the past and are comfortable in that environment. Make sure to make a budget early and leave enough room to attract quality individuals that will pay off in what they bring to your guests’ experience.
After devising a structured plan, avoid simply checking off requirements in your hires; include an idea of personality and attitude, since that can have a major positive or negative impact. If you can, include soft skill specifications in your search.
Once you have your team set, onboard them with training packets well ahead of time, and instill in them your big-picture vision for the event as a whole. A little focused training can go a long way. Lastly, reach out to a national event staffing agency to streamline the whole process
and potentially save money and time.

A good event staff can make the most modest of occasions special, and by keeping all this in mind you can find the best people with the least stress.

Katherine (Tori) Lutz

Freelance Writer, Editor & Social Media Strategist