Making the right connections

At connectalent, Runa Knapp and Jasmine Silver seek to match skilled professionals with firms that value what the company calls “a work/life balance.”

Runa Knapp and Jasmine Silver are very good at connecting talent — theirs with each other and those of others with companies in Fairfield County and its environs.

In March 2019, the Westport residents, who met when their youngest children were in preschool, co-founded connectalent, which brings skilled professionals together with firms that value what the company calls “a work/life balance.”

Most of their applicants, they say, are women like themselves — moms seeking greater flexibility as they juggle careers and kids, particularly in the coronavirus pandemic. “But we’ll help any candidate,” adds Silver, a former senior associate at a matrimonial and commercial litigation law firm in New York City with degrees from the University of Michigan and New York Law School.

“As a candidate, you come to us, sign up on our website and upload your résumé,” she says. “Then we reach out to you by phone.”

The purpose of the interview is to make curated matches between the applicants and prospective companies.

“We’re very specific on the résumés we do send to these companies,” says Knapp, a certified public accountant who is a former senior manager at KPMG with degrees from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) and the University of Southern California (USC). “They receive only a handful of very precise candidates.”

“We pride ourselves on getting to know both candidates and the corporations,” Silver says.

“Personality is a big part of this,” Knapp adds. In other words, connectalent doesn’t just connect talents. It connects temperaments as well.

Candidates don’t pay any fees, while companies are charged only when they hire a connectalent applicant. Though connectalent will contact you if it thinks you are right for a certain position, it will not conduct a job search for you, whereas it will conduct a thorough search for a company, drawing on its own talent pool and outside sources, Silver says. Contacts between candidates and businesses are made through connectalent alone, but both parties are free to conduct searches elsewhere. Within connectalent, job seekers can avail themselves of its coaching and résumé editing experts, while prospective employers can make use of a partner firm that conducts background checks.

At the moment, employers reaching out to connectalent include financial firms with an eye on diversifying their personnel.

“There are a lot of jobs in finance companies that have a desire to bring in more women on the C-suite level, which is great,” Knapp says. “We’ve had investment firms that are looking at female talent, because they’re all male.”

And while quite a few marketing firms have scaled back — many of connectalent’s candidates are in marketing — there are a good number of administrative positions available.

As for the candidates, Silver says there are two types in the Covid-19 era — those who are seeking some kind of employment, whether it be full- or part-time, contract, in-office or remote; and those who’ve had to step back from the job search to care for and help school their kids.

Silver and Knapp understand their needs. Both have two grade school-age children and have continued to work remotely during the pandemic. While remote work has been trending, it is not for everyone. But neither is it for every company. That’s where connectalent comes in, to match the right person with the right position.

“Probably the most rewarding part of our job,” Silver says, “is to make that connection that just clicks.”

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