Why ReadyTalk hires candidates with career gaps

Drafted is always looking for great team stories. We firmly believe that you’re only as great as the team you choose to work by your side.

We were recently struck by the great and diverse team that ReadyTalk is building, through key initiatives like their Ready to Work program.

While tech companies aren’t shy to admit that there is a diversity problem in tech, most teams don’t know how to solve it. DeAngelis opened up to Drafted about the launch of Ready to Work, and their efforts to give a diverse set of candidates — including those who have left the workforce for at least 2 years — a chance to contribute to their team and culture.

Drafted: Tell us a little about ReadyTalk and why you love working there.

Meghan: ReadyTalk is headquartered in Denver, Colorado, in a vibrant area called Union Station. The company was founded in 2001 by brothers Dan and Scott King, whose goal was to provide industry leading communication technology to its customers and to do this by building a company of like-minded individuals working together in a true team environment. We’re 180 people now, and I love ReadyTalk because it’s high-energy and there are always so many new ideas being generated here.

D: It sounds like ReadyTalk is an important part of the Denver tech industry and that you really enjoy working there. How did you get started at ReadyTalk?

M: I was introduced to ReadyTalk when I was at my friend’s holiday party and she mentioned ReadyTalk and how it had been recognized as one of the best places to work by Outdoor Magazine. I started at ReadyTalk as an Account Executive, then I moved into an Account Management role, working with long term customers and then from there transitioned into HR. ReadyTalk is great because there is a lot of opportunity for career growth.

D: Is there a lot of employee mobility at ReadyTalk. How did you end up working in HR?

M: There’s a lot of mobility, yes. Over the past 6 months, we have had over 20 promotions and/or people who have moved into different departments. There is a high level of focus on internal talent mobility here at ReadyTalk.

I was introduced to HR after I had my son. I loved ReadyTalk but after he was born I had to figure out this new work-life balance. My husband travels a lot for work so I had to make a tough decision and I gave my 2-weeks notice to focus on my son full-time. On the very last day of my 2-weeks the recruiting team reached out to me and asked if I would consider doing contract work, which led to me running the Return to Work Program. The program ended up having great initial success and at the end of December they offered me a permanent position. I was able to work flexible hours, which I needed given my husband’s work schedule.

D: It’s awesome that ReadyTalk found a perfect role for your skills and personal life. How did ReadyTalk originally get connected to this program?

M: The Return to Work program was originally launched by PathForward — which is the non-profit arm of fellow Colorado tech company, ReturnPath. ReturnPath helps parents and other caregivers return to the workforce after an extended absence. They recruited 10 Partner companies and Readytalk was one of them.

We all know how hard it is to explain those gaps on a resume and so this program provides adults who had to leave the workforce the opportunity to “intern” at a company for 22 weeks, with the potential for full-time hire after the program is complete. While last year we followed the ReturnPath program, we decided to start our own “class” this fall, to align better with our business and also to coincide with kids going back to school.

D: Wow. It looks like companies like PayPal, Moz, SendGrid and others have gotten on board as well. Can you share other stories from ReadyTalk’s “Return to Work” program?

M: I really like the story of John. John had been out of work for eight years, raising his children. Before he stopped working he had been an account manager and great salesman. ReadyTalk posted the Return to Work opportunity on a stay-at-home parents blog and John found it and reached out to say, “Hey I’m interested. I have a ton of sales experience. If there’s an opening in sales that would be ideal.”

So, we hired him for a sales role in the program. The really incredible thing about John was that he was able to pick up right where he left off.

D: Is it safe to say that there was an age difference between John and some of the sales team?

M: There was an age difference but John and his teammates worked well together. John’s strength is that he is humble and knew when to ask for help. In the beginning he would walk down the sales aisle and ask each co-worker to help him with something he didn’t know. In that way, he built a rapport with his teammates while learning. They taught him new technology like Salesforce and he shared his sales experience. He was so good at the job that after the 22 weeks his hiring manager offered John a full-time position.

We also had a full-time mom, Kalin, return to work and she was able to keep hours that worked with her schedule. Everyone on the team was open to these different work arrangements and it made for a safe and trusting environment that could kickstart these people’s careers.

D: How many Ready to Return workships will you offer this year?

M: This year we are offering 4 Ready to Return opportunities and we’ll continue to grow the program.

D: What was the value for the team (not just the returnship folks)?

M: From the beginning the interns worked hard, understanding the opportunity that they had been given. It was great for the rest of the team to see that determination and to experience different perspectives.

We strive to hire a diverse team — this was just one way. We also work with initiatives like the National Center for Women in Information Technology to source more women on our team.

At the end, we did a recap with both John and Kalin, and they just kept sharing about how all of their teammates were willing to help, which is something we really value and foster at ReadyTalk.

D: We can’t wait to check back at the end of the “semester” for updates. Ready for some culture questions? What’s unique about ReadyTalk?

M: ReadyTalk is really unique, from generous employee benefits to a balanced work-life culture that gives employees the tools they need to be successful both personally and professionally, the management team truly cares about its employees. Our CEO, Dan King, loves running. Every year everyone gets $250 for race entries. All employees also get $300 credit for wellness (whatever you’d like — yoga, ski passes, etc.), and everyone is really relaxed. At ReadyTalk a lot of our employees have a similar mentality, work hard, play hard. It’s common to see our employees running at lunch or participating in our yoga classes that we offer at our office or even conducting a lunch-in-learn that they are passionate about.

Common sightings @ReadyTalk: Employees running together, doing yoga or presenting their passions. click to tweet

D: What types of roles are you hiring for?

M: We’re always looking for top talent. Engineering is a huge one. Marketing, sales, and customer care are all big too. (Check out all of ReadyTalk’s open positions)

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