How to Beat the Resume Bot

Career Blog

Crafting a resume is always a challenge, and it’s even more so when attempting to outthink the Sky-net-style gatekeepers who seem hell-bent on screening out applicants. But before littering your document with a kaleidoscope of keywords to beat the bot, consider these tips.  

  • Be Specific: Compare your resume against the details listed in the job description and use the employer’s exact words to describe your accomplishments.
  • Don’t Rely on Abbreviations: Even the latest applicant tracking systems (ATS) have intake limitations. To reduce expulsions, spell out majors, certifications, and industry-specific abbreviations that may get muddled in translation.
  • Front Load: Yes, having keywords sprinkled throughout the document is the ideal choice, but that’s a time-consuming proposition, especially if you are chasing varied opportunities. Instead, craft a resume body complete with compelling metric-driven proof points, then ensure your professional summary section lines up with their top needs.
  • Go Old School: Playing the keyword game can help prevent you from being unfairly screened out. However, getting screened in once your resume hits human hands is far more important. That’s where you should spend the lion’s share of your time. Once you’ve optimized your resume, try to circumvent the process by connecting directly with influencers in the target organization.

Using keywords to best the bot will help you survive the landslide of resumes a hiring manager receives for each role, but it pales compared to a human connection. Savvy hiring managers will rely on ATS outputs to a degree, but an employee referral or personal connection is far more valuable. Remember, search engine optimization (SEO) is good, but Savvy Employee Optimization is better.

And What of Cover Letters? 

As organizations increasingly leverage automated processes and AI-driven systems, you might question the relevancy of a cover letter. But it’s their rarity that gets them noticed while allowing you to do two critical things:

  1. Highlight a point of distinction that may not be apparent on a resume. For example, perhaps you’re a finance professional with significant presentation experience. This X-factor can set you apart from others with similar traditional skills.
  2. Demonstrate your ability to write: This is a critical skill for many jobs and one that is rarely if ever, tested. A cover letter can showcase how you will represent the employer.

Of course, cover letters also display a sense of pride and politeness. Simply including one will set you apart in a sea of sameness regardless of what the bots have in store.

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Photo by Ketut Subiyanto

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