Here's how to navigate the AI résumé reader.
While avoiding common résumé mistakes and deciding what to put and what not to put on your résumé, don’t overlook the fact that the first “eyes” on your résumé don’t always belong to a human. Those “eyes” are likely to be part of an algorithm that filters résumés for relevance. If you want to craft a winning résumé that lands you the job, you have to be aware of what AI will pick up on and what résumé mistakes will land you in the AI black hole.
“When used as a tool, AI can allow older job seekers to leverage their experience,” says Mauro F Guillén, Dean of the Cambridge Judge Business School and author of The Perennials: The Megatrends Creating a Postgenerational Society. “When crafting a résumé or CV, job seekers should emphasise their ability to adopt a 360-degree view based on their experience,” Guillén says. “This is especially true of older workers, who have the opportunity to benefit disproportionately from AI when used correctly. Understanding how the technology works will be critical for both the application process and for the future of work.”
The line between asking AI to help us write our résumés and AI overlooking our résumés are five résumé mistakes that’ll land you in the AI black hole.
1. Trying to game the system with keyword stuffing
It’s wise to use phrasing from the job posting in your résumé, because that’s how the company knows if you’re a good fit. “AI or not, hiring managers are looking for résumés that align with their company’s needs and will be screening for keywords,” says Akhila Satish, an award-winning career expert, scientist and the CEO of Meseekna, where she’s worked with employers such as Credit Suisse to assess and improve employee performance.
That said, it’s possible to go overboard with the keywords, and one so-called trick that some people think is clever may get your résumé tossed out. “Don’t try to be sneaky by pasting the entire job description into your résumé and trying to hide it in four-point white font,” says certified résumé writer Kelly Donovane. “An HR rep will quickly figure out what you did and will NOT be impressed.”
Keywords are critical, though they must be used carefully. “Adjust your language to match the keywords and phrases in the job description,” Donovan advises. “The software won’t necessarily recognise synonyms.” Donovan also reminds job seekers that software is looking for standard headings like “Experience” and “Education,” so don’t get creative with unusual headings like “Professional History” and “Academic Achievement.”
2. Using text boxes and fancy formatting
What might look snazzy in print is often lost in digital translation and can even be entirely overlooked by AI. “Avoid putting critical information in text boxes and save your infographic-style résumé for face-to-face networking,” Donovan advises. She also points out that “not all software can properly read the contents of the header and footer fields, so don’t put your contact information or other crucial details there.”