Photo courtesy of Karen Rivera
Karen Rivera has what many people (including Rivera herself!) would describe as a dream job. That’s because, as a Talent Acquisition Partner for Ultimate Software, she gets to spend each day selling something she truly believes in and benefits from personally: her company’s work culture.
A leader in cloud-based HR software solutions, Ultimate has set itself apart from the stereotypes that often cling to other tech companies as being less-than hospitable spaces for female and diverse employees. For Rivera, a Latinx military spouse, that kind of work environment isn’t one she’s willing to get behind — which is why she was so impressed by the diversity she found at Ultimate upon joining three years ago.
“I noticed immediately when I started working here that everyone has a voice to speak up about their ideas. I also noticed just how diverse the tech teams are, which was a surprise given the overall tech industry’s reputation,” she said. “Being at a company that supports all demographics and interests is such a blessing, and it makes me feel like I really belong here at Ultimate.”
Throughout her time at Ultimate, Rivera has helped take what was already an inclusive culture to the next level by enhancing the company’s existing D&I recruiting efforts. None of this, she adds, has exactly been a tough sell. Company leadership has always been in enthusiastic support of D&I initiatives, something Ultimate’s wide lineup of employee resource groups speaks to. And, from the candidate-side of things, Rivera has the advantage of representing a company that takes the value it returns to employees seriously.
“The benefits are a huge highlight,” she said. “Most of the time, I have to repeat the unlimited PTO benefit because candidates think they heard me wrong. It is just one benefit that sets us apart and makes work-life balance at Ultimate so attainable.”
Recently, Rivera shared with Fairygodboss the two aspects of life at Ultimate she thinks any candidate should know about, as well as her No. 1 piece of advice to women who are currently job seeking.
How long have you been in your current role, and what were you doing previously?
I have been at Ultimate a little over three years, and I absolutely love it! I specifically recruit for tech roles. Previously, I was a Senior Acquisitions Manager in Hawaii for DFS, a Hong Kong-based retailer of luxury products.
What’s the first thing you do at work every day?
The first thing I do at work is say good morning to my teammates. They really are what makes it great to come into the office. After that, I check my calendar and get the feel of my schedule so I can prepare for the day.
As a recruiter, what are two things about your company that you always make sure to highlight when talking to a candidate?
The people and the culture. I came from a very different type of working environment, and I appreciate what a positive impact working for a company like Ultimate can make in someone’s life. Everyone here is passionate about what they do. They are hardworking but also know how to go out and have some fun. So, I always try to highlight how amazing our people are and how unique the culture is.
What’s one thing your company does — whether a formal policy or program, or more in terms of office culture — that you think is particularly unique or unexpected?
The benefits are a huge highlight. The 45% dollar-for-dollar 401(k) match and our unlimited paid time off program are most notable for our candidates, since many companies don’t have such generous vacation policies or retirement plans.
Most of the time, I have to repeat the unlimited PTO benefit because candidates think they’ve heard me wrong. It is just one benefit that sets us apart and makes work-life balance at Ultimate so attainable.
Tell me a bit about your company’s D&I efforts and employee resource groups.
I noticed immediately when I started working here that everyone has a voice to speak up about their ideas. I also noticed just how diverse the tech teams are, which was a surprise given the overall tech industry’s reputation.
Being a Latina and a military spouse, I dove into finding job fairs or conferences that geared toward those demographics so that we could enhance our existing D&I efforts. My manager and Ultimate were very supportive, which made me happy to be able to bring more of these groups into our Ultimate family.
Ultimate has a number of employee resource groups, which we call Communities of Interest. We have UltiVETS, which is for military veterans and active service members as well as their friends and families, and it’s also a way for non-military folks to express their appreciation for veterans’ service. We have Women In Leadership, which is open to women in all types of roles, and Women in Technology, specifically for women who are in tech jobs or are interested in tech jobs. We also have PRIDEUS, which is in support of the LGBTQ+ community, and even a group called UltiHOPE, which brings cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers together to empower one another to continue fighting and thriving through cancer.
Being at a company that supports all demographics and interests is such a blessing, and it makes me feel like I really belong here at Ultimate.
What’s your No. 1 piece of advice for women who are looking for jobs right now?
My best advice is to not underestimate yourself when it comes to a role, a title or a salary. Ask for the higher end of your salary range. Ask for that title you have had your eye on for years. You are more than capable of getting exactly what you want — just go for it!
What’s something you think most people (perhaps even current employees) don’t know about your company that you think they should?
Make sure to take advantage of all the great training and development opportunities at Ultimate. We have an amazing Learning team and Talent Development team that put out so much content and great leadership programs to help you advance your career.
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