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8 tips to get your resume past hiring bots and to a real person

If you’re a job seeker, it’s likely you heard the reports touting the record number of open positions across the nation. While it is true, you may find actually getting the job is still a challenge. Even if you are diligent in your job search and scour online job sites, send out your resume in bulk and do your best, there are times you still won’t receive a single response. It’s easy to question what’s wrong with you and your qualifications when this happens.

Rest assured, the reason behind the failure to reply isn’t personal. It can be the result of algorithms rejecting your resume before a human even sees it. That’s right — the hours you spent dressing up that resume is all for naught.

Here’s a look at what resume elements can cause your elimination from the applicant pool, and what you can do to get it into the hands of a real person. This tip is brought to you by our sponsor, LinkedIn. If you’re hiring, read until the end for a great offer to find your best superstar employee.

Eight things I hate about you

No, this isn’t about a campy ’90s classic. It’s merely to let you know you’re up against a program that needs a reason to send your resume forward. Now, you may wonder what the AI is looking for. Here are eight areas to focus on:

  1. Choice of font
  2. Use of images
  3. Header or footer info
  4. Lack of keywords
  5. Use of acronyms
  6. Choice of document file type
  7. Untailored to the position
  8. Lack of relevant facts

To help you correct these details and pass the fault-finding AI, it’s time to fix up your resume.

1. Stick with the standard

Don’t bother using fancy fonts in an effort to stand out from other applicants. Uncommon fonts can confuse AI, so it’s recommended you stick with the standard Arial, Calibri, or Georgia with a 12 point type (11 or 10 is fine as well). Tap or click to see how a bad font choice exposed forged documents in a bankruptcy case.

2. When pictures aren’t worth 1,000 words

While your font choice can confuse AI, the use of graphics or logos may go entirely unnoticed. Since pictures can’t help your cause (and take up valuable space), cut them from your resume and stick with text.

3. Don’t go out-of-bounds

Although the practice of inserting data into headers and footers is traditional for essays, it isn’t proper for resumes.

The inclusion of any contact information within the document’s header or footer is considered a huge no-no. The reason? Many assessment tools can’t read those sections, so your essential data is ignored. Insert all contact information within the body of your resume.

4. Say it right

Similar to websites, your resume should include a few keywords. SEO or search engine optimization is the use of specific words to increase views or traffic to a website. This might be precisely what your resume needs.

Look through the job description, specifications and competencies for keywords like specific software, skill sets and so forth. Be sure to incorporate these keywords into your resume.

5. You’re a what?

As smart as AI is, the system may have a difficult time understanding acronyms unless they are universally recognizable like CPA or CEO. While it may seem awkward spelling out your job title or college degree, it may be the key to getting through the application system. Remember: When in doubt, spell it out.

6. Word is king

Your resume rejection could be the result of the document file you have submitted. It is recommended you only use a text-based application like Microsoft Word when you create your resume to ensure its readability.

Avoid PDF, Open Office, HTML or Apple Pages document file types. One way to tell if AI can comprehend your resume is to copy it into a plain text file and make sure the page’s order is maintained and no unusual symbols crop up. If they do, don’t use that file type.

RELATED: 5 Microsoft Word tricks that will make you stand up and cheer

7. Tailor it up

Similar to keywords, unless your resume mirrors the position description, AI will deem you disqualified and discard your submission.

A generic resume will not work for today’s job search. It is best if you tailor it to closely match the description of each position you apply for — if you have the relevant skills, of course.

8. Just the facts, please

It’s easy to tell your story when writing a resume. After all, you want prospective employers to know what a great person you are. While that’s understandable, your resume is not the place to do this.

RELATED: Best jobs for people over 50

Stick to the facts. What roles have you held? How long you were with each company? What were your responsibilities and specific skills? All this information should be included to help your resume meet the AI’s requirements. Save all those extra details for your cover letter.

While these tips cannot guarantee a position with your desired company, they will help get your resume past AI. Keep this in mind to give yourself a fighting chance at your dream job.

The best way to hire for your company

Small businesses have unique needs, and it’s more important than ever to have the right people on your team. That’s why I trust LinkedIn jobs to help. LinkedIn Jobs matches your open role with qualified candidates and puts your post in front of members every day so you can hire the right person faster.

Find the perfect fit for your business with LinkedIn Jobs. And, for a limited time, post a job for free — just visit to get started today!

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