Stay CONNECTed to Discover Opportunities

Stay CONNECTed to Discover Opportunities

Professional networking, a targeted resume and skill sharpening via volunteerism led one Gainesville woman to reemployment.

Florida native Weida Tucker moved back to Gainesville in January 2009 and planned to bring along her recruiting business of 20 years from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

After renting an office space and doing some research, Tucker realized the recruitment business would mirror the tumble that the economy was taking. That April, she had to lay off seven employees and begin her own job search.

Instead of being weighed down by the negative, Tucker said she found beauty in transitioning and finding a new life.

Since matching people to jobs was her forte, Tucker knew what she had to do to find employment. She began seeking out networking and volunteer opportunities that would help her employment journey.

Tucker connected with Lubee Bat Conservancy in a public relations/ development role. Going back to her public relations roots helped her hone her writing skills while staying productive and positive. Tucker believes her volunteerism not only sharpened her skill set, but also kept her in the right frame of mind to be successful in her job hunt.

“Be aggressive about volunteering – look for people with leadership skills to work with. It’s a great way to get connected to your community. You can be left feeling alienated, so this is a great way to stay feeling connected,” Tucker said.

“Even the most positive people can feel an impact while job hunting today. The personal connections you make can help you stay positive.”

Through professional networking with the Society for Human Resource Managers (SHRM), Tucker met Kim Tesch-Vaught from the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce/ FloridaWorks. Tesch-Vaught invited Tucker to CONNECT (Creating Opportunities through Networking New and Existing Companies with our region’s Talent), a free networking program for professionals with associate degrees or higher, or five or more years experience in an industry. CONNECT was created by FloridaWorks, the Alachua-Bradford regional workforce board, as an answer to the community’s employment needs.

Through follow up, patience, perseverance and staying connected, Tucker was fresh on the mind of FloridaWorks when a Talent Development and Training Specialist position became available in September. Now Tucker is back to the work she knows best–matching businesses and job seekers to help make the right connections.

Tucker’s other advice to job seekers is to make sure to identify unique skills and match them to a range of jobs, not necessarily the same job they held previously.

“Make sure you showcase the specific skills that apply to that particular job you’re applying to. Your resume is your biggest sales tool.  It’s the first impression they get of you. It’s a snapshot.  So take the opportunity to sell yourself as the perfect person for their opening. Then close the deal at the interview.”

CONNECT meets every Monday from 5:45 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. and is hosted by a different business every month.  Each week the meetings cover different professional insights on transition, and once a month HR recruiters conduct mini interviews for open positions in their organizations.

FloridaWorks has collaborated with the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce, the Society for Human Resource Management and  the Florida Employers Advisory Council (FEAC) to form CONNECT, an organization designed to connect Gainesville’s professional-level job seekers with local employers and human resources recruiters. CONNECT is geared toward job seekers who have an associate degree or higher, or five or more years experience in an industry.  

For additional information about CONNECT contact Joe Johnson at 352.334.7105 ext. 311 .