At the end of March 2020, Credit Karma assessed market conditions as well as critical business demands and came to a clear, if not unusual, conclusion: the company needed to shift talent acquisition professionals to other areas of the business.
The redeployment effort perfectly emphasized Credit Karma's people-first philosophy. Leaders looked at employees’ resumes and LinkedIn profiles to hone in on their transferable skills and temporarily moved them into roles that matched.
For example, Mary Sharp, then a senior manager on the talent acquisition team, joined the department dedicated to training Credit Karma’s member success agents at its contact centers as an instructional designer.
“I learned how to organize and build a great training, which I thought I knew how to do,” Sharp said. “But there’s a whole world underneath there.”
When Sharp returned to talent acquisition that fall, she and the team redeployed their time outside recruiting. They felt empowered by change and realized their colleagues might also benefit from exploring and taking on roles outside of their current discipline within Credit Karma. As a result, Karma Compass, a dedicated program designed to encourage Credit Karma employees to explore roles internally and upskill, while making a material impact within the organization, was created.
“Career growth doesn’t mean it has to be a linear path,” said Roshni Verma, staff talent acquisition partner, who had been redeployed to the legal and compliance team. “When you take on something different, you might need to step back, go sideways, and get out of your comfort zone.”
“When you take on something different, you might need to step back, go sideways, get out of your comfort zone.”
“Our employees, we call each other Karmanauts, are our greatest source of talent,” Sharp said. “Through this program, they can continue to grow and develop themselves professionally — gaining expertise and leveraging the skills they already have. Karmanauts’ growth equals Credit Karma’s growth.”
The Three Cs
The vision for the Karma Compass program was set. Sharp, now the director of global talent acquisition, knew success was contingent on finding a leader to build its infrastructure, support the employee and manage the program.
That’s where Verma came in.
Verma’s secret superpower, according to Sharp, is setting up an ecosystem for talent planning and partnerships with human resources and departments across the business. She followed what she calls the “three Cs:” culture, communication and celebration to foster a growth mindset and lay the foundation for the Karma Compass program.
“You can build the most beautiful program, but you need to have clear communication so people understand it,” Verma said.
Credit Karma’s talent strategy centers on a philosophy of supporting people in their next career step, whether that’s a new role in their current area or changing paths supported by this new program. At Credit Karma, employees own their careers.
“You can build the most beautiful program, but you need to have clear communication so people understand it.”
Through Karma Compass, an internal job board features open roles across the organization for easy access. There are resources for employees and managers to learn how to navigate internal mobility and how to have conversations about career growth with their teams.
Self-guided training from varying departments that once sat in silos have been consolidated for people interested in a new role — to get a sneak peek of, say, the engineering organization. And though not designed specifically for Karma Compass, the internal mobility team leverages and encourages Karmanauts to refer to career frameworks, which outline specific roles and their expectations.
In addition to encouraging people to explore, Credit Karma has a dedicated talent development department that provides employees with professional development resources and experiences so they are equipped to make a change. While Verma and Karma Compass give employees the chance to find a new place within Credit Karma, the talent development team, led by Chen Song, gives participants the tools and education necessary to make the transition.
Such resources include Credit Karma University, which features internal and external classes and speakers, a mentorship program, and a professional development budget Karmanauts can use to invest in coaching, workshops and classes.
Identifying the right next step can be one of the most difficult parts of the internal mobility process. So Song and Verma developed a discovery guide to help employees in their journey. The guide contains open-ended questions to encourage reflection and preparation for meaningful career conversations and changes.
“We want to remove as much friction as possible from this pursuit of what’s coming next,” Song said. “When we give people resources for growth, we're not just put on an internal website and we hope people find it. It’s always done through the lens of how people will connect with the content.”
Empower your people to follow their own compass and they will shine. The Karma Compass program allows all full-time employees to explore a lateral move or transfer within Credit Karma. “People can deepen their chosen skills or they change career paths, which happens,” Verma said. “Aspirations and needs are different.”
“As much as we welcome and celebrate when we have a new external hire, we should do that for our internal hires,” Verma said. “They are taking a chance too.”
When a Karmanaut makes an internal move, it’s announced among the respective team. A quarterly newsletter dedicated to internal mobility features stories of people who have taken on different roles or transferred to new departments.
“There’s a beauty in that,” Verma said. “There is someone out there who might be thinking about a different area of work. Reading about a colleague's experience with internal mobility gives them the vote of confidence that they can give it a try too.”
It’s about the journey
Verma partners closely with human resources business partners and leaders to understand how Karma Compass is an additional tool to empower team members to build and own their careers.
“It’s creating this entire philosophy of developing people to be great Karmanauts in the place that’s going to work best for them and the business, rather than just one side or the other,” Song said.
That philosophy is expressed from day one. During new-hire orientation, Song’s team reminds new employees that the role they are onboarding in may not be the job they will retire in. New hires learn Karma Compass is available if and when they’re ready to take a new path. Different ways to grow within the organization are infused in every step in an employee’s journey. For example, twice per year, formal conversations called Karma Convos allow managers and their team members to discuss career growth, professional development and long-term goals.
KARMA COMPASS BY THE NUMBERS
Karma Compass launched in early 2021, and by the end of that year, 10 percent of employees changed roles through the program.
- 40% of Karmanauts who made a switch were women
- 20% of open roles were filled internally
- 45% of internal moves were “significant,” meaning an employee changed departments or verticals
Two types of Karmanauts approach Verma; those with a clear path toward what they want to do, and those who like the idea of change, but they don’t know what that will look like. Each individual is different and has different career aspirations. Verma meets them where they are in their search, and the process is quick. It can involve networking and upskilling through training with the talent development team.
When employees who like the idea of doing something new but don’t know what new means, Verma puts on her coach hat. She helps them to understand their aspirations, connects them to a network of Karma Compass alumni, other leaders based on their area of interest and educates them on how to leverage external learning and use their professional development budget to orient their compass.
Two types of Karmanauts approach her: those with a clear path and those who like the idea of change, but don’t know what that will look like.
A program like Karma Compass creates space for individuals to talk about the support they need to take a step away from Credit Karma if there’s another opportunity that excites them. But it also ensures that folks can develop a growth mindset and feel excited about the possibilities within the company.
That’s because Credit Karma strives to be the place of learning and professional growth, where day-to-day tasks and stress don’t cloud an employee’s North Star.
“You should be thinking about your growth all the time, not just two times a year, or four times a year when promotions come around,” Song said. “The best person to drive your career, the person that knows what your next step can be, is you.”