Dawn Penfold, CMP, has been in the business of helping meeting planners find jobs since 1990, when she launched The Meeting Candidate Network. Her take on the current meeting jobs environment: It’s getting better, but it’s very competitive. “Knowing that there is a plethora of candidates out there, those who are doing the hiring are being very particular,” says Penfold, now president of meetingjobs.com. “They are looking closely for the right skill set, the right niche.” And if you’re among the ranks of laid-off meeting planners, potential employers will want to know what you’ve been doing with your time.
Here are her top tips for writing résumés:
1. Know Your Audience.
You can have a modern and cool résumé but if the person reading it is not modern and cool, it might get thrown out.
2. Use Key Words.
Large human resources departments use “applicant tracking systems” to scan online résumés. Be sure to include at least 20 key words that will be picked up by the ATS, otherwise your résumé may never get read by a person.
3. Skip the Objectives.
“Your résumé gets read in 13 seconds,” Penfold says. “Emphasize what you can do for the company.”
4. Keep it Clean.
Skip graphics or formatting that might confuse a scanner.
5. List Your Jobs, Not Your Skills. “Use a chronological list,” she says. “If I see a functional list, I think something’s wrong.”
6. Read the Job Posting, then Re-Read It.
Always send a tailored résumé. If you have the relevant experience, use the same words as in the job listing. This ensures your résumé will be picked up by the ATS and also helps HR officials who might not understand the job.
7. Industry Designations Only, Please.
Include CMP, CMM, or other industry designation after your name, but not MBA. Include MBA at the bottom, where you list your education.
8. Check Your Address.
“No firstname.lastname@example.org,” Penfold says. “Make sure your e-mail address is professional.” But do use a personal e-mail address, not your current work e-mail address.
9. Consider Video.
Whether or not you add links or video “depends on the hiring official and the quality of the video,” says Penfold. But it can work well. “One of the best résumés I’ve seen included a link to a branding video on YouTube that showcased the candidate’s abilities.” Go to visualcv.com to see samples of résumés that look like home pages, with video, links, and sections. The bottom line: “You have to know your market.”
10. Grammar and Spelling: 100 Percent Perfect
Some things never change.