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The Total Talent Reboot, How This Startup Overhauled Its Workforce

First Round Review
First Round Review
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NerdWallet’s founder and CEO Tim Chen and VP of Talent Florence Thinh share how they upleveled talent while growing the company.

  • Chen’s first order of business was making a few senior-level hires that would help him steer the ship and attract the right type of attention and respect from other prospective candidates.
  • These senior-level hires or “tent poles” made a huge difference: VP of Talent Florence Thinh, VP of Business Operations and Analytics Dan Yoo, and VP of Engineering and Operations Bhaskar Ghosh.
  • NerdWallet’s less than optimal recruiting system stood out because Chen was uniquely invested in the process, so it was clear talent was a top priority at the organization.
  • Use what you have to get tent poles in the door and consider social dynamics because big-time talent attracts more big-time talent.
  • When you are looking to recruit a tent pole, think about how to give them the highest ceiling possible.
  • The right tent pole hires have awesome networks that encourage passive hires and make it clear how others can grow at the company in seniority and title.
  • Remember to find the best matches for your company, not anyone else’s, so tease out the qualities that make an ideal employee for you.
  • Every match at NerdWallet is aligned with these values: consumer, company, team, self; drivers before solutions; healthy relationships, hard conversations; and relentless self-improvement.
  • Understanding the cause or impetus of an outcome is critical, so identify that one vital commonality that all successful employees share.
  • Be careful when hiring because people bring in other people like them.
  • Do not forget the need to both find good matches and prove yourself to be an incredible match.
  • Good match-making requires a certain amount of psychologizing.
  • Give employees a clear, well-lit path for what their future growth with your company looks like.
  • People really like defined goals that drive continual improvement.
  • NerdWallet uses a development matrix to break down title distinctions for employees and serve as a roadmap for an upward trajectory.
  • Distinct tiles and progress ladders also have the byproduct of staying power.
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