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Fumbling Robot-Resume Readers: Ways to make your resume machine-friendly

It’s a fantastic concept in theory. However, We found these Robo-resume reading algorithms to be complete ‘gaarbaaage’ in practice. According to a Harvard/Deloitte survey, 88 per cent of qualified candidates are overlooked and that’s a staggering figure.

When you apply for a new job, you may be surprised to realize that the person who reads your résumé first is frequently not a person at all. It is not uncommon for a single position to get up to 250 candidates, especially in today’s job market. 99 per cent of Fortune 500 organizations utilize an Applicant Tracking System (ATS) to manage each step of the employment process due to the sheer volume. Automated robot résumé readers rely on ATSes to scan applications fast using keyword searches and, theoretically, forward the most qualified résumé to human recruiters and hiring managers.


This trend of employing the help of robots to screen resumes is not about to end anytime soon because of the amount of data an HR department will have to handle if they do all this filtering manually.

So here are a few things you can do to help your resumes be noticeable and not ignored.

1. Do not apply to a lot of jobs in the same company: Stay laser-focused on the role you desire and if you find out you are a fit for multiple roles try and limit yourself to three roles at most and craft resumes for each role.

2. Apply only for roles you are qualified for: It is as simple as that. 

3. Use the right keywords: That’s the easiest way ATS works it scans for keywords that are relevant to the industry you are trying to get into.

4. Make sure to put your keywords in context: Applicant tracking systems can recognize that a key skill or experience is present. But interpreting the strength and value of that experience is still for people to do. And humans want to see how you used your skills.

It’s obvious to a recruiter when you’ve just worked in a keyword because it was in the posting, without tying it to a specific personal achievement—and it doesn’t win you any points.

5. Use the right file type: This rule is basic but if ignored it can quickly have your resume thrown out. The two standard file types are .doc and pdf and any other file types might cause complications.

6. Do not attempt tricking the ATS: You may have heard that you can mislead an applicant tracking system by pasting keywords in white, pasting the full job description in white, repeating the keywords as many times as possible, or adding a section named “keywords” where you may stick various terms from the job description.

Don’t even think about it!

Any tricks that have to do with pasting keywords in white will immediately be discovered because the ATS will display all text in the same colour on the other end. So even if this gets your application flagged to a human recruiter, they’ll see that you added the full text of the job description or just wrote “AI AI AI AI AI” somewhere and move on to the next candidate as quickly as they can

7. Resist the urge to overly design your resume: This rule should have been number 1! It may pain you to hear this, but you likely need to get rid of that expensive resume template or heavily designed custom resume. “If you speak to experienced hiring managers [and] recruiters, they’ll tell you that creative [or] fancy resumes are not only harder for [an] ATS to read, but also harder for them to read!” says Mahtani.

With these few points, you should scale through those “treacherous” ATS if you are qualified for the role.

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