In the Covid doldrums, headlines reported on testing sites and vaccine efficacy. But according to one study, other news was catching attention, too: Women were leaving the workplace or downshifting their careers. Now with the Covid winds shifting, they may want return. That’s where Westport entrepreneurs Jasmine Silver and Runa Knapp step in. They are cofounders of CONNECTALENT (connectalentct.com), a recruiting company focused on placing female talent and increasing diversity within companies. They started the business in May 2019 and say that 92 percent of their job placements have been women and 88 percent of those have also been mothers. It was a good bet. Connectalent’s revenue doubled between 2019 and 2020 and achieved a 500 percent increase in revenue from 2020 to 2021. Silver (director of operations) and Knapp (director of business development) say they identify the in-demand job skills of the moment and guide their clients to best positions. Here’s what they shared.
Why did you decide to leave the corporate world?
Silver: “The intense hours I was working as an attorney, coupled with my husband’s hours (which were significantly longer), no paid maternity leave, and no provisions for flexibility upon my return all factored into my decision to leave the corporate world when I started my family. After, I vowed to work toward addressing inequities for women in the workplace in my next role. Runa and I cofounded Connectalent in 2019 and in less than three years, it has become an industry leader and one of the few full-service recruiting firms in the country focused on female talent and flexible opportunities.”
Knapp: “My company allowed the flexibility I needed, and I spent the last four years at my firm in a part-time capacity. However, between my husband starting a demanding job in New York City, which required him to travel frequently, and my two young kids in daycare picking up colds/flus throughout most of the winter (peak season for my line of work), I made the decision to leave the firm to focus on my family full-time after my final busy season in 2016.”
How have job openings changed during Covid?
Silver: “There are many more remote positions available now, and we have candidates and clients coming in from all over the country, which has been a really exciting, organic way to expand and scale our business. According to a study last year, a full 65 percent of employees were in search of a new job, so we’ve been busy! Connectalent’s revenue doubled from 2019 to 2020 and experienced a 500 percent increase in revenue from 2020 to 2021. We’re growing rapidly because more women are ready to get back into the workforce after taking time off during the pandemic.”
When should someone look for a new job?
Silver: “Some Americans are quitting their jobs as part of the ‘Great Resignation,’ primarily due to the mental shift that places less emphasis on making big bucks and climbing the corporate ladder and more emphasis on ensuring employees are striking the right work/life balance irrespective of their earnings potential. Nothing amplified this work/life balance necessity more than the effects of the pandemic. Employees are feeling more empowered to do what works best for their mental well-being. This shift can take on the form of being selective by seeking only remote or hybrid opportunities in an employee’s field of expertise or switching careers entirely.”
Knapp: “Since Connectalent’s inception, well before the pandemic caused so many companies to unexpectedly go remote, we have been at the forefront of the flex-work movement. We have always encouraged employers to consider remote, hybrid or flexible work whenever possible in order to attract the best talent, and we have always prided ourselves on finding women jobs that fit the reality of their lives, their schedules and their values.”
What mom skills transition well to the workplace?
Silver: “Small businesses love people who can both strategize and execute when it comes to marketing, social media and PR roles. Women in financial services will continue to be in high demand, including positions in operations. Highly organized, self-starter administrative candidates will also be in demand for various companies and firms.”
Knapp: “Mothers are efficient, have outstanding multitasking abilities and have no time to waste. Mothers are empathetic and have emotional intelligence. Their ability to see a situation through someone else’s perspective is an important trait in being a successful mentor and boss. For these reasons, Connectalent, run by two mothers, prides itself on providing employers with the best and brightest ‘mom talent’ out
How does age impact women’s work choices?
Silver: “We often see that women in their thirties, forties and fifties have an overwhelming amount of responsibilities and outside-of-work commitments that they shoulder on top of their paid work. Whether it’s running a full household, raising children, caring for aging parents or volunteering in schools and the community, women at this age are often forced to scale back their paid work to part-time, hybrid or remote in order to allow them time to fulfill their other commitments. On the flip side, by this age many women have gained a broad depth of work experience or achieved a certain level of seniority in their industry, and they can get their job done in much less time than it would take a younger, less-experienced employee, so their hours and pay should reflect that, too.”
Knapp: “We should also mention that in this case, age is much less about a specific number and much more about the life stage you are in. Plenty of women in their twenties have families and prioritize flexibility in their work choices for various reasons, while plenty of women in their forties work full-time in-office or juggle multiple paid jobs. We are so proud to have created Connectalent, one of the only white-glove, full-service recruiting firms devoted to female talent—and mothers in particular—who are seeking opportunities that best suit the phase of life they are in.”
THREE TIPS FOR ENTREPRENEURS
“Go for it! If you think a business idea is great, chances are that a lot of other women and mothers will agree with you. Don’t be afraid to discuss your business with family and friends and crowd-source some ideas, because you might be surprised by what you uncover. Some of our best ideas have come about from casual conversations we’ve had with colleagues or each other.”
“It’s also helpful to find a mentor to ask questions when you are first starting out. We are always happy to mentor newer entrepreneurs.”
“Ask for help. Make sure you have all the experts you need to help you get started, whether it’s legal, financial or tech support, ask for recommendations and find some people who can assist you with all the aspects of your business that you may not be a specialist in. Reach out to Connectalent to connect you with experts who can help your small business.”
IN HONOR OF MOTHER’S DAY, TELL US, HOW HAVE YOUR MOTHERS INSPIRED YOU?
My mother worked hard throughout my childhood and managed a full-time job, raising her kids, household duties, and taking care of my ailing grandmother. Her work ethic and drive has always inspired me to excel in my own career and at home.
My mother is a confident, ‘go for it’ kind of person, and has always encouraged me to do more and do better in my career. Her positive attitude and confidence in me has always inspired me.