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CareerSource Pinellas relaunches professional networking groups

Ashley Morales

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Job seekers in CareerSource Pinellas' professional networking groups get access to guest speakers, resume reviews, interview practice and more. Photo provided.

Pinellas County’s workforce development agency is relaunching a program to help job seekers increase their chances of landing the right role.

After a brief hiatus at the end of 2023, CareerSource Pinellas relaunched monthly orientations for its professional networking groups this week. The orientations are held weekly at St. Petersburg College EpiCenter in Clearwater. Once job-seekers complete an orientation session, they are formally invited to attend CareerSource’s weekly professional networking group sessions. 

To qualify for the professional networking groups, applicants must possess a bachelor’s degree, be a veteran or current service member, be an active duty military spouse or family member, be a current college student or have to have earned at least $45,000 a year or more in a past position. Jason Druding, Director of Business Services for CareerSource Pinellas, said the goal is to help those looking for a higher-level role or larger salary.

“Professional-level job seekers often need a bit more intensive type of job search experience and need assistance in identifying the higher-paying roles that may or may not be visible via your typical job boards,” Druding said. “This helps them to identify ways to find those hidden jobs that can often be found via networking.”

“For every $10,000 of salary you’re looking for, your search will take a month. So, if you are looking for a $100,000 job, on average, it’ll take 10 months to find your next job. These are the people that come to our network and who may start getting discouraged after three or four months,” said CareerSource Pinellas CEO Steven Meier. “We try to keep them positive and encourage them to really network, because a lot of the jobs in that salary range and above are never going to be on Indeed, they’re never going to be published. Networking is how they’re going to find them.”

CareerSource’s professional networking groups provide access to job search exercises, resume reviews, interview practice, personal brand and business development guidance, guest speakers, job referrals and other information meant to position job seekers to succeed. 

“We are also adding some additional exercises, including one-on-one speed networking activities to help people enhance their capabilities with their elevator pitch or their personal brand statements,” Druding said. “Today, for example, we hosted Dewey McGuirk with New Horizons Computer Learning Centers to teach folks about artificial intelligence tools and how they can impact your job search.”

CareerSource Pinellas is funded entirely by federal grants, enabling the organization to offer its professional networking groups and programming at no cost. Druding said in the current “war for talent” in Pinellas County, those looking for a new career or role need to arm themselves with the tools required for a highly competitive job market.

“Many employers are becoming more stringent on their job requirements. Therefore, specific skills and upskilling are vastly important, even for those with bachelor’s and master’s degrees or veterans who are transitioning into the workplace,” said Druding. “One thing we teach folks is that it’s not just who you know or what you know; it’s also who knows what you know and is willing to tell someone else about you. That’s why networking can lead to opportunity.”

Information on CareerSource Pinellas’ networking groups can be found at careersourcepinellas.com/networking-events.

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