CONNECT Celebrates One Year of Success

The CONNECT (Creating Opportunities through Networking New and Existing Companies with our region’s Talent) program was created to fill a need in the community, for guidance, support and connectivity during a time when many professionals were being laid off.

CONNECT creates networking opportunities for professionals with associate degrees or higher, or five or more years experience in an industry, and local human resources recruiters. Each week a different professional provides insight on job transition, and once a month Human Resource recruiters conduct mini interviews for open positions in their organizations.

“Since its inception, the CONNECT group has created an economic impact in this community of over $1.4 million. The CONNECT group is in alignment with the vision of FloridaWorks which is developing a work class workforce,” said Jose Gavarrette, FloridaWorks director of operations.

$1.4 million is representative of all annual salaries earned by jobseekers who found their jobs by way of networking and using CONNECT’s services.

Jose Gavarrette honored several people who have dedicated time after business hours to keep CONNECTrunning, including Robin Harpe and coach/motivational speaker, Navigate Your Life; Joe Johnson, Director of Business Services, FloridaWorks; Suzanne Levings, Talent Development and Training Specialist, FloridaWorks; Lisa Thorne, Assessments Coordinator, FloridaWorks.

“Over the last 12 months I have been privileged to meet hundreds of displaced professionals during their job search which I have adopted as my extended family. Words can not express the feeling which comes over me when I am contacted by one of them stating they have found employment and thanking us for what we are doing for them. I am as a proud parent whose child shared a great success story with me,” said Joe Johnson”

As CONNECT enters its second year, it has over 347 active professionals seeking employment. CONNECT meets every Monday night from 5:45 – 7:00, excluding holidays such as July 5th. For businesses who want to hire the region’s top talent, please contact Joe Johnson at (352) 334-7105 x311 or If you are a jobseeker and want to attend CONNECT, please check this week’s location by clicking here.

What CONNECT participants are saying:

“I survived because of this program. CONNECT kept my spirits up.” – Pat

“I want to thank each of you who supported me over the last eight months by joining my LinkedIn network, provided interview opportunities, giving me invaluable feedback and support, both professionaly and personally — and for providing me with great references” – Pam

“The encouragement and moral support that groups like the CONNECT Program provide can help a person realize that they do have much to offer an employer, if they can learn to “package” their talents and job skills in a way to make them attractive as an employee. I know that these are the types of skills that you and others are working hard to impart to the CONNECT program participants.” – Doug

“Stand up in church and make an announcement, tell everyone you are seeking work. Keep a positive attitude and do not appear desperate. Research the company you are interviewing with thoroughly.” – Diane

“Be flexible and look for transferable skill opportunities.” – David