How to Beat Resume Filtering Software

by Staff - Original publish date: May 6, 2013

With the overwhelming number of applications and resumes received on a daily basis, recruiters must do all they can to manage the flow -- thus resume filtering software.

What follows here varies by company and position, but for now let's work from this premise: In the larger (and not so large) companies, your resume/application is not initially viewed by a "real human person" but is scanned and graded by a piece of software and then archived until those results are called up. What this means is that only those resumes that "made the grade" (literally) will rise to the top of the pile to be reviewed. To help you successfully negotiate this software, here are some first-glance Dos and Don'ts."

DO NOT include your physical address on your resume.
Professional recruiters don’t want me to tell you this. It is often their very first point of elimination. You might be able to cure cancer, but you live too far away from the job site. As a result, your resume might not receive any consideration whatever. You are willing to relocate or carpool, but you never got the chance to express that you understand that as a consideration.

YOU MIGHT not even want to include your city or town on your resume.
I live in a small town outside of Houston. My resume would state "Houston, TX." When the recruiter calls to ask me what part of town I live in, I'm going to respond with "Where’s the job located?" Get my drift? She had to call me, which creates a conversation.

DO draft a conservative resume that takes filtering software into account.

  • No script or designer fonts. The software might reject your document.
  • No tables. Ditto.
  • No logos or graphics. Almost guaranteed to get your resume rejected.
  • No continuous lines across the page. Filtering software may read a continuous line as a page break and go on to the next file meaning you just got passed over without a complete read.
  • No giant fonts. A common mistake of the recent graduate trying to fill space on the page—their name in 36PT bold. The software in most cases will be set not to read PT sizes in excess of 16 or even 14PT.

DO include a Seeking Statement (my term) telling your reader about the position for which you are applying. Just below your contact information, add a single centered and bold line stating:

"I am seeking a position as (use the exact job title) with (insert company name), reference #(fill in the blank)." For example, if applying for an a job at Dow Chemicals you would write, "I am seeking the Director of Mechanical Engineering position with Dow Chemical Company, reference #12345."

  • Know that the software is looking for an exact match of the job title. Make it easy for this to occur. Make it easy for the reader to like you.
  • It might seem redundant to mention the name of the company to which you've just sent your resume, but my best information tells me you might get points in the scoring by using the company’s name.
  • If a position contains a reference number, by all means use it. Make it easy for the recruiter to route your resume to the right person.

This is only a fraction of the information I intend to share with you in the coming months. Don’t hesitate to contact me and send me any job search questions you might have.

I wish you Good Job Hunting!