A client asks:  With tracking software eliminating so many candidates, a friend said she heard people were scanning the specific job description behind their resume so key words would pop. Do you agree this idea is a good one or no?

While I think it’s an interesting idea, I wouldn’t advise doing it. HR people and recruiters are very savvy about these kind of tricks and pretty quickly discard any resume that has such things.

A few years ago people were typing keywords onto their resume and then making the words clear (no color). Those people were quickly found out and disqualified immediately – almost blacklisted by the companies.

It’s far better to go through the job description and incorporate keywords organically into your resume, and of course to refer to elements in the job description in your cover letter – making the match between what they need and what you can do for them.

Then do the work of finding someone in a company to bring your resume to a real person’s attention.

I think you may also find that in this day of “full employment” recruiters are willing to look at more resumes than in the past and perhaps are even lowering the bar for ATS scanning (instead of saying “must have 80% of keywords” they might have a threshold of 60%).


Tricks may work for a short while, but are generally seen as exactly that: tricks. You don’t need tricks if you have the right experience and a resume that showcases your abilities and impact.