May 08, 2020
In her 30 years as an executive recruiter for the meetings industry, Dawn Penfold, founder and president of, has never experienced anything like what has happened to the industry this spring. "It's massive," says the former meeting planner, who saw hiring grind to a halt in March, along with an enormous wave of layoffs and furloughs.

This is a real wake-up call for the Millennial generation, in particular, she notes, since the job market has been strong for their entire careers. "They could name their prices; there were more jobs than candidates. In three weeks that was turned around completely."

For job seekers, "the future is going to look different," Penfold says. "I consider everything that's this big like a hinge that takes us in a new direction."

Following is her advice for what to do now to best prepare for a meetings industry job in the future.

What does the job market look like now?

All but one of the 20 job searches I was working on stopped searching completely. And all the temp work - I had placed 50 to 60 independent contractors - stopped. And that's just my little company. So I can imagine what it looks like out there in the big world.

A lot of the meeting planners still have their jobs because they're still negotiating. They're still showing their value. But once that's done, there's not going to be anything for them to do.

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