Just a few years ago, there was a lot of hope that technology-based solutions would eliminate human bias in the hiring process. Now, we know that technology can not only replicate human bias but amplify it. Much of this hiring technology is made by teams that reflect the notoriously undiverse technology industry and, most importantly, are not trained on data that properly represents women and racial minorities. Technology is only as unbiased as the data it is trained on. These screening technologies are widely used and create a system of automated rejection that overwhelmingly impacts minorities in the job search. Our technology team continually researches industry-leading parsers to understand what these systems are looking for and what kinds of resumes they like. These are our top tips to optimize your resume to make it through a computer screening process.
- Format. Avoid using exotic resume formats, such as tables, images, or two or three-column formats. These can be difficult for a computer to read. Use basic fonts like Arial or Times, and keep your section titles clear and simple. Stick to Word Docs or PDFs, and don't use scanned PDFs, as most systems can't read text off images.
- Language. Use the same vernacular as the job description. Not all systems can infer "semantics" intelligently; a "VP - Innovation" might mean nothing to a system looking for a "Head of Emerging Products." Even "managed projects" may not register for a system searching for a "project manager." This is true for skills as well. If the job description says "strong collaborator" and you have "good team player" on your resume, change it, so it matches. It's worth changing your resume for each job you apply to so the language matches.
- Keywords. Incorporate the job title and job description keywords naturally into your resume. Copy the language of the job description and repeat it as much as possible throughout your resume. Don't try to "trick" the system by copying the job description and making the text tiny or coloring it to disappear into the background. Most systems know how to identify that at this point. Location. Sometimes, screening systems are looking for potential candidates in the area. When you apply for a job without including your zip code or address on your resume, a screening system may not identify you as a local. Ensure your information is on your resume, so you don't miss opportunities.
- Keep it simple. Remember that a computer will likely read your resume before a person will. Keep this in mind when you're writing. Use bullet points instead of text. Keep your language straightforward and industry-specific rather than company-specific. Power language. Many resume screening systems look for strong language to indicate strong employees. Instead of using words like "helped," "aided," "was part of a team," use powerful language like "executed," "led," "impacted," and more.
Job searching is hard. The online job search can be especially taxing. Computer screening systems are unforgiving, but they aren’t impossible to crack. Read our recruiter’s top tips for an eye-catching resume. Happy job searching!