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How NerdWallet Modernized Their Recruiting Process With Canvas

Canvas usage results:

  • - More than 75% decrease in time spent reviewing resumes and applications
  • - Most of NerdWallet’s early-in-career hires have been through Canvas since 2018
  • - Revealed the diversity in NerdWallet's pipeline to then optimize their hiring strategies 
  • - Expanded virtual recruiting strategy to include virtual events and curated talent communities

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Imagine you’re looking to buy a house and figuring out how to secure a mortgage. Yet, you have no idea where to start your research or how to educate yourself on it. Does this all sound too familiar? 

NerdWallet, a personal finance startup, aims to help you with that and much more. Headquartered in San Francisco, NerdWallet has a big mission to provide clarity across all of life’s financial choices. Their innovative product is designed with one purpose in mind—to help empower consumers through expert content literacy and free tools. Ultimately, they’re looking to provide people with a sense of what’s going on with their finances and offer recommendations on how to make the most out of what they have. 

As a consumer-first business that values innovation and collaboration, NerdWallet emphasizes approaching solutions from their consumers’ shoes and taking a data-driven approach to everything they do. In fact, one of their core values is to “hypothesize, build, measure, and learn.” This formula, of course, translates to how the talent team at NerdWallet operates. Isabel Macias, Talent Coordinator, and Kirsten Armstrong, Talent Ops & Programs Lead, keep a pulse on many aspects of the recruiting process through surveys, automation, and tracking. “Of course, there are strategies and tactics that work out, while others don’t. But what we do at NerdWallet that’s unique is consider how we learn from them and set up plans to make sure we’re measuring success, doing the right thing, and keeping the right people involved,” explains Kirsten. 

For Kirsten and team, the use of recruiting and sourcing tools is nothing new. However, Kirsten knew she needed a tool that could offer the ease of use and flexibility that would enable her team to scale their recruiting efforts more efficiently. And what really separated Canvas from the pack is full-funnel analytics and the ability to provide over 75 self-reported candidate data points for recruiters to leverage. 

“Before Canvas, we just didn’t know what we didn’t know. So we were banging our heads against the wall trying to do just what we knew—from attending career fairs to manually going through a high volume of inbound applications.”

The challenge:

Like so many other innovative companies, NerdWallet gets inbound applications in the thousands. In a perfect world, recruiters would be able to spend as much time as they need reading through each resume and conducting additional research to assess a candidate for more than just their resume. But here’s the thing: most companies don’t have infinite resources to grow their talent team by twenty folds to keep up with the applications. The talent team at NerdWallet had the same challenge. 

Kirsten, who was a team of one in 2018, had to manually evaluate thousands of applications when recruiting season hit. “It was a very high-volume and manual process.” On top of reviewing applications, NerdWallet’s talent team prides themselves on creating fantastic candidate experiences and making sure that they are hiring a diverse group of talent. All of this takes incremental time that the team didn’t have, which is why they turned to Canvas. 

Increase efficiency to spend more time on top candidates and their experience

Prior to Canvas, most of Kirsten’s time and energy was spent going through the resumes and applications in their ATS. “The search capabilities in our ATS were not strong. For example, I couldn’t look in the ATS and see that we’ve never hired from the University of Baltimore before. We could only go through the applications one by one, which was super tedious.” The team at NerdWallet also used a sourcing tool as a supplement to their ATS to find specific candidates based on the groups that candidates are a part of. 

“When we are searching for candidates on the other sourcing tool, it’s easy to pick a club or organization that they’re a part of and hope that they identify that way since we don’t want to ever assume how people identify or what their interests are. It’s not great data but that’s the only signal we really had before Canvas.” 

NerdWallet’s talent team purchased Canvas with two main objectives. First, they wanted to spend less time reviewing inbound applications. NerdWallet’s second objective was to maintain its high bar when it comes to great candidate experience. To achieve their first objective, NerdWallet integrated Canvas with their ATS, Greenhouse, to unlock the 75+ self-reported candidate data they needed to quickly identify top talent. Specifically, Kirsten and team filter for different demographic data, skills, interests, and experiences to get a holistic view of candidates. NerdWallet especially values talent who have an interest in fin-tech, which they are able to easily identify in Canvas's candidate profiles. “Being able to look at what people are interested in and having additional information allows us to approach candidates accordingly, which has been really helpful. And we’ve been able to find great talent that are still loving the work they do here at NerdWallet.”

Additionally, the team likes the ability to see which candidates have reached out to them and message talent directly on Canvas. “I really like the messaging capability on Canvas because it feels less heavy than other tools. Canvas feels more like an instant message which was easier to reach out to the candidates through. It also just feels more social.”

Not long after NerdWallet implemented Canvas, their talent team started seeing positive results:

“Canvas has helped cut down the time we spend on looking through resumes and applications by more than 75%.”

Hire talent from all backgrounds 

NerdWallet places a lot of value on sourcing talent to make sure they’re hiring diverse candidates. Before Canvas, the team had done a solid job of finding passive candidates. However, Kirsten and team weren’t able to correct for underrepresented pipelines because the other tools they were using didn’t have the data they needed and had a very low message response rate. To hit their hiring goals, they tapped into Canvas's shared talent marketplace of over 300,000 candidates to not only help surface candidates of all backgrounds and locations, but also their interests and how they identify. “It is really amazing to be able to say that we want x% of our hires to be female, from URGs, or people with these interests—and then go on Canvas to easily source all the qualified talent that falls under the criteria that we can reach out to”, proclaims Kirsten. In addition to the demographic filters, the NerdWallet team also appreciates being able to remove individuals that they’ve already interacted with in the past. Whether they’ve spoken with someone within 48 hours or even the past 3 months, the team can make sure that they’re not seeing the same candidates when they source in Canvas. Overall, the NerdWallet team has been able to correct for underrepresented pipelines and exceed their OKRs by sourcing on Canvas. “Canvas helps us hit on all of our hiring goals, especially on the diversity side.” 

For Kirsten and Isabel’s team, their top three OKRs are around:

  1. Filling in open headcounts smoothly  
  2. Improving diversity in the workforce
  3. Having a certain amount of diversity hires be source hires

Analyze their candidates and pipeline data patterns

NerdWallet takes data and insights seriously. Every quarter, the talent team checks stats on everything from candidate experience surveys to how long it takes to schedule interviews, to the diversity breakdown of different teams. “Our goal is to figure out how we can best reflect the population that we want to reflect in our employee base. For example, to get high-level metrics and diversity breakdowns, we track how many people we reach out to, how many are we talking to, what schools they’re coming from (diversity of education) all through Canvas. We also look at candidate survey results and offer metrics to track our team’s success.” 

Canvas helps NerdWallet not only collect but also visualize full-funnel data to optimize their recruiting strategy. “It’s nice to see the data and be able to cut it to then report to the Head of Recruiting. “It’s important for us to know who’s applying and who isn’t applying. That way, we can make certain changes to job descriptions if they’re not resonating with a certain population.” Kirsten and team also monitor further down the funnel to see who’s making it through to the end, who isn’t making it through, and why. “We also do look at people who accept or decline their offers to see if there’s anything we can do to make people feel good about NerdWallet from very early on in the interview process,” says Kirsten. 

By analyzing their candidates and pipeline’s data patterns, Kirsten and team have refreshed their hiring strategies to further rely on Canvas's ecosystem. In fact, the NerdWallet team is approaching this Fall recruiting season differently. Instead of building their pipeline when their roles are open, the talent team decided to engage with passive talent much earlier on so they have a warm pipeline of qualified candidates when roles are available. “Once we post the roles, we always get a huge influx of applications. So I thought, what if we could be more targeted and use Canvas beforehand to reach out to candidates we’d be interested in.” This tactic helps the NerdWallet team save time while bringing down the time it takes to fill an open role to improve one of their team’s metrics. 

Expanding their virtual recruiting strategy to reach new audiences

As part of their new recruiting strategy, the NerdWallet team plans to host their first virtual recruiting event on Canvas in October and leverage Canvas Communities to further engage with passive and active talent. “I’ve done a few mock events already, and Canvas's event function is very self-explanatory,” said Isabel. “I love the ease of Canvas Events Manager. The ability to highlight who the speakers are, select who you can specifically invite, and source for attendees from the Canvas talent pool are so great. And what’s even nicer is that you can convert all the respondents into prospects to then push into Greenhouse.”

Beyond virtual events, NerdWallet is also strategizing their first public talent community on Canvas. The team is excited about Communities to help them build and promote their employer brand to an expanded audience of over 300,000 talent of all backgrounds and levels. “A lot of the information we want to share on our end has already been created and shared out in different formats. So as we’re thinking about our Communities strategy, it’s about shifting the information, adjusting it, and highlighting who we should be reaching out to with it,” expressed Kirsten. “We’re going to experiment a little bit.” 

Providing partners with ongoing strategic and tactical support 

What particularly impresses NerdWallet is Canvas's hands-on Customer Success team. “The Canvas team has been extremely helpful on both how to get the most of the Canvas platform and on optimizing our strategies,” explains Kirsten. “We haven’t opened our roles yet and are trying our new strategy to re-engage with people who applied before and to reach out to potential candidates ahead of time. The Canvas team gave us really great insights on how to think through our virtual recruiting strategy. We’re even meeting with them again next week to go through our events to make sure we’re really optimizing on how we create, manage, and promote the events.” 

“The customer support team has been extremely helpful when we have questions. We’re kept informed on what’s happening, the different changes, and even ways to optimize our strategy. It’s been really nice that the team has been interactive, whereas, for other tools, our account managers never reach out to us.”

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