If you thought humans were reading your résumé, think again. Robots do, and their one solitary objective is to systematically crush the hopes and dreams of those who don't make the cut.
Instead of paying a few humans to read thousands of résumés over a couple weeks, many companies use computer programs that can do the job in less than an hour. In fact, at least 90 percent of Fortune 500 companies use what they call an applicant-tracking system, aka rejection machines.
Goodbye, subjectivity and personality.
If you've recently applied to a job online for a medium- to large-sized company, chances are your résumé may never (and I do mean never) make it to a flesh-and-blood human being. Whether you're applying to Starbucks or IBM, these machines are your first point of contact.
So, how do you beat a robot? By hacking the system. But, before we can do that, we must better understand our enemy. Here's a look at how this diabolical applicant-tracking system works:
All these robots really care about is the correlation of the keywords or buzzwords from the job posting to your résumé. So, in order to beat this system, you must make your résumé as keyword-friendly as possible.
It's always important to carefully craft your job descriptions for every type of application, but you can only rework "line cook" or "waitress" so much before you start outright lying. So, instead of trying to spin your two-year stint at In-N-Out into a brand development opportunity, you can hack your résumé with some robot-friendly invisible text.
Redditor COstateofmind came up with this very sneaky hack to get around those pesky robots. In your résumé, place keywords that relate to the position in the header and/or footer sections of your document.
Then, make the text white. It will still be picked up by the machine's search tool, but won't be visible to the human eye.
This is essentially taking a page out of an evil black-hat SEO's playbook, using a technique called "cloaking" where you effectively show robots one thing and humans another.
Doing this on a webpage these days is sure to get your site flagged as spam, as modern web search engines are very good at spotting and flagging those who aim to game the system. On the other hand, specialized résumé search algorithms are still fairly basic, relying on data structure and keyword matching without extracting meaning and detecting keyword stuffing.
Obviously, this isn't foolproof. If a recruiter uses the Select All or Find feature, the jig is up. But it's not always a death sentence. Assuming that you actually have the skills you list in the keywords and can back them up in an interview, some recruiters may respect the well-played game.
Of course, some hiring managers will feel duped. This method is meant for those who are applying to a bunch of jobs in a short period of time. It's a numbers game—the more real, flesh and blood humans who read your résumé, the better your chances.
Let's face it—it's tough out there. Sometimes, you just gotta do what it takes.
Just don't use it if you're applying to be an ethics teacher.
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