Resume Overload? How DoSomething Screens Job Applicants and Finds the Perfect Intern in a Stack of 300 Resumes

Wade Foster
Wade Foster / Published May 13, 2013

For all the noise about there being a talent problem, good companies still get a ton of applicants for job openings.

In fact, Dwolla founder and CEO, Ben Milne, tweeted that in the last week they got 300+ applicants for a position at Dwolla. His tweet was retweeted 65 times and favorited another 54 times so clearly other companies have the delightful challenge of sorting through hundreds of resumes and cover letters for relatively few job openings.

Turns out Dwolla isn't the only team with 300 applicants. Last week I chatted with Director of Engineering, Desmond Morris, and asked him how they tackle this problem, even without expensive HR software.

The Challenge of Handling 300 Resumes is a well known, national, non-profit in the United States. Their mission is to motivate young people to take action for social change and they provide grants for making that happen.

Bottom line? It's a pretty cool company.

As a result, when announces their internships they get a lot of applicants competing for the gig.

Their current application process is to let potential candidates know that they can apply by sending a resume and cover letter to an email address like

And all those applicants (yeah, all 300) wind up in one persons inbox. And that lucky guy is Desmond.

This led to a handful of problems including:

  1. Applicants getting lost in his inbox
  2. Not responding to applicants quickly
  3. No good way to get feedback from teammates
  4. Missing out on good candidates

Clearly a better process was needed.

Defining the Process

Like any good engineer, Desmond set out to define the optimal process for recruiting interns, reviewing the applicants and then ultimately hiring and onboarding them.

Here are the steps in the process he came up with.

1. Announcing the Position

This is pretty straightforward and boils down to announcing the position on their site and posting it on all the relevant job boards and university career centers.

2. Screening the Initial Applicants

Step one nets around 300 applicants so the next step is to figure out who is worthy to take a second look at. It's a process that everyone on the team can pitch in on so they needed a solution that can let anyone easily toss a candidate into a "no" or "maybe" pile.

"No" candidates need to get a polite rejection letter while "Maybe" candidates move on in the process.

3. A Short Phone Interview

Candidates that seem like they might make a good fit are then given a short phone interview. The phone interview helps identify basic cultural fit, conversational ability and true interest in the position.

4. A Code Review

Candidates that make it through the phone interview then send over some code samples to go through a quick code review. This makes it easy to identify candidates who are definitely not up to snuff and those whose code will fit the quality that looks for.

5. Face-to-face interview

The final step is a face-to-face interview onsite to help identify the candidates that they want to work with over the course of the internship period.

All-in-all it's a fairly straight forward process, but without any way to manage it other than email then it's fairly easy for the hiring team and the candidates to have a bad experience in the hiring process.

Landing the Right Person Using Trello

Trello Hiring Board

If you want to play around with a sample hiring board click the above image to hire the next Mr. Manager for the Arrested Development Banana Stand.

If you've ever used Trello, you probably thought to yourself "this hiring process looks like a perfect fit for Trello!" You aren't the only one.

The team had used Trello in-house for other project management purposes so it was a natural extension to set this up for hiring as well.

Here's how to replicate their process in Trello:

  1. Set up a Trello board for each job position
  2. Set up columns for each step in the process (apply, phone interview, code review, etc.)
  3. Create cards for each candidate
  4. Move the cards across the columns as the candidates move through the hiring funnel

Pretty straightforward process. The last bit is setting it up so that when an applicant applies via email that Trello can create a card in the apply column. This last bit we can do with a bit of Zapier magic.

All you need is to connect Gmail to Trello so that when someone applies, Zapier can create the relevant Trello card and then all hiring stake holders can proceed to review applicants in Trello. One cool bit is that Zapier will handle moving attachments from Gmail to Trello for you so you can make sure to have resumes and cover letters where you need them.

Here's the exact Zap to make it happen:

Wrapping Up

If you have this same challenge and found this post useful, make sure to say thanks to Desmond and the team for sharing.

You can follow Desmond on Twitter or if you want a cool gig check out the positions that is hiring for on their jobs page.

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