How to Optimize Your Resumé for AI Hiring Systems

By: Jennifer Thomé

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Recruiting AI is one of the fastest-growing operational tools, and one that offers the most promise to both employers and job seekers.

For employers, it allows them to quickly search, filter, and evaluate thousands of applicants in a matter of seconds. For employees, it allows them to be discovered more quickly, and eliminates the human bias that is all too common in the job search.

If you’re looking for a job and applying to open positions, then this is the time to optimize your resumés and online profiles to help you get hired fast. Here’s how.

[Related: Are You Prepared for a Job Change? Five Strategies That Can Help]

Skip the fancy format.

For all their genius, robots are terrible at reading between the lines. Make sure that your resumé is in a plain format without tables or decorative items. Once you make it past the robot and are contacted by recruiters, you can send them a formatted version for your interview.

Be sure to use a text-based, commonly-used application such Microsoft Word, rather than a PDF, HTML, Open Office, or Apple Pages document, and avoid including logos and graphics. You can test your resumé’s readability by posting it into a plain text file, then making sure nothing gets out of order and no strange symbols pop up.

Don’t put any information in the header, as most software can’t read it. If they can’t see your name and contact info, it doesn’t matter how good your application is. It will most likely be disregarded due to a simple formatting error.

Focus on keywords and skills.

AI-powered software is designed to identify candidates whose resumés match open job descriptions the most. It does this by looking at the words on your resumé and looking at the repetition and prioritization of certain phrases that matter. It also looks at the type of company you worked for and the length of time for each.

One way to highlight the right skills is to match them to those in the job description (though you don’t want to just cut and paste phrases, because AI will notice it and flag your application), or if posting a profile online, use an online cloud generator to look at what other terms to include and what words to give emphasis to, depending on how often they appear in the word cloud. This will make your application more robust, and will open you up to related roles that you may not have thought to consider.

Also be sure to include transferable skills from the job description to increase your resumé’s odds of being chosen. In an interview with executives from IBM, soft skills such as flexibility, time management, teamwork, and good communication were mentioned as some of the most important skills for employees to have.

Finally, spell out any acronyms and put the shortened version in parentheses after the word. This will ensure that you’re found, regardless of which version the human on the other end of the software entered.

Shrink the personal statement.

Yes, AI is trying to help you get hired, but it doesn’t really like small talk.

Keep your personal statement short and keyword-focused. This is a great place to include some of those soft skill keywords that don’t fit elsewhere.

[Related: Are Cover Letters Dead? We Surveyed Over 10K Recruiters and Here’s What They Said]

Mirror the job description and prioritize.

AI-technology not only reads and matches your information, but weighs the importance of the information provided.

Therefore, you should list jobs in reverse-chronological order, with the information most relevant to the job description coming before other bullet points.

Tailor each application.

Yes, it’s a pain, but even small tweaks that align your resumé or application to the job description will pay off.

AI is not only designed to find matches, but to remove resumés that don’t match from consideration, so the more closely you mirror the description, the higher your chances of getting hired are.

Apply anyway!

Not the perfect fit? No suitable jobs at the moment? Apply anyway!

Federal law (OFCCP) mandates that employers keep records of all applicants, and most of them do this in software called an applicant tracking system (ATS).

Most AI software can now search previous applicants in an ATS (the process is called ATS rediscovery), so even when you’re applying for a job that’s not a perfect match, the software may automatically recommend you for a different role.

Put yourself out there.

Many career websites allow companies to search profiles for suitable jobs (which is much easier for them than scanning the hundreds of resumés that come in from a job search).

So, in addition to adding yourself to the ReadyToHire database, be sure to upload your resumé to other career sites such as Indeed, Monster, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Dice.

[Related: Not Getting Interviews? This is Probably Why.]

Jennifer Thomé is an international marketing and localization consultant who specializes in business and technology.

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