Changing the Economic Map in Chicago with Assessments, Training, and Hope

February 6th, 2020
Cynthia Siemens
Diversity & Inclusion
Chicago Skyline

In a tiny WeWork office in Chicago, a philanthropist sat working on a Powerpoint presentation. One slide featured a map of the city with two sections highlighted in bright red. “What does the red represent?”, re:work training CEO Shelton Banks asked the founder, who replied, “Those are the areas where the average total household income is $20,000 a year. Those are the neighborhoods with people we want to serve by helping them move into jobs with a livable wage at Chicago tech companies.”

A powerful mission, and surely the work of a nonprofit employing dozens of staffers, correct? In fact, re:work training is a lean and highly focused nonprofit with a staff of five. Small, but mighty, re:work is helping train, coach, and send dozens of talented job candidates from underserved neighborhoods in the south and west sides of Chicago into inside sales jobs at technology companies such as Salesforce, Showpad, Sprout Social, LinkedIn, GlassDoor, CDW, PackBack, Groupon, and DocuSign.

In doing so, they change the salaries of those job seekers from an average of $18,000 a year in retail jobs to around $54,000 on average – in a matter of months.

Through an eight-weekend program of assessment, training and coaching, and then a follow-up assessment to measure an increase in sales-related competencies, re:work is changing the map in Chicago, one undiscovered professional at a time.

Learn more about re:work training, their mission, and their people in this nine-minute video.

The HireVue team is extraordinarily proud to be a part of the re:work mission. Chairman and CEO Kevin Parker remarked, “As the author Rye Barcott said, ‘Talent is universal; opportunity is not.’ We know there’s untapped talent in the underserved neighborhoods of Chicago, and we wanted to support re:work training with the competency-focused assessments they needed to uncover that potential.”

HireVue consulted with re:work training on the implementation of assessments for inside sales representatives, providing them at no charge to Shelton and the team. re:work uses the HireVue sales assessments to determine which candidates for their training program are the best match for inside sales jobs, to identify the skills and potential they already possess, and to pinpoint where each needs further development.

Since implementing HireVue Assessments, Shelton and his team have been able to triple the size of each training group and they’re continuing to expand to serve more training candidates. Following eight weekends of coaching and training by sales leaders from the companies who source inside sales reps from re:work, such as Sprout Social and PackBack, program participants are re-assessed with the HireVue Assessment and then prepared for interviews at the hiring companies.

Their success rate for helping candidates get hired? Seventy percent.

The program is such a success that it’s been featured in national news articles and on Chicago television programs, and government officials are approaching re:work to talk about adopting their model. As re:work CEO Shelton Banks said recently, “When our candidates see the same potential in themselves that I see in them, all of this becomes a culture where people feel, 'This is my job.’ ‘We made it.'