If you're currently on a job hunt, or have been previously, chances are you've found yourself at your wit's end of the application process more than once. Job applications can be long and tedious, and often times you don't even get a response back.
Which is probably why this résumé "hack" is currently re-circulating around Twitter.
The hack is called "white wording," and it's a trick designed to outsmart most companies' Applicant Tracking Software. The software is designed to sort through job applications and résumés and choose the ones that align best with the job description. With this hack, your résumé has a greater chance of being approved by the ATS, as it has the exact job description the position desires.
Look, I'm all for bamboozling the system, but this hack definitely didn't seem foolproof to me, and I had some follow-up questions. For answers, I turned to Erica Rivera, a senior Google recruiter based out of the Chicagoland area — who also offers job-hunting advice on TikTok as @career.diva. Having worked in recruiting for a number of different companies, including Indeed, Erica is no stranger to the ATS. She told BuzzFeed: "I have had the opportunity to work with different companies all over the country, across different industries, and operated out of various ATS systems to help companies fill their open roles."
Erica is also familiar with the "white wording" hack, and said, "I have seen this at least a dozen times in my career. It was very unfortunate because I had to reject the person’s application." Erica confirmed that while this hack does help you pass through the ATS, it's also a surefire way to make sure that your résumé passes right into the trash afterward.
Erica said, "This hack has been circulating for years now. Many recruiters are aware of it. A quick 'select all' of the text on one’s résumé could uncover this and get a person rejected." On top of that, Erica added that as the ATS software becomes more adept at checking résumés, it also helps prepare for white-wording. She said, "ATS technology has become much more sophisticated. You will get yourself rejected before you have even had the opportunity to get in front of a manager! For example, there are ATS systems that will actually uncover these 'hidden' words once a résumé has been parsed through the system."
Erica also explained that while the Applicant Tracking Software is important, it's not the gatekeeper when applying for a job. She said, "I have personally moved candidates forward in the interview process after uncovering résumés that did not 'make the cut' based on the ATS scan. What I can say is that the capabilities of ATS systems vary. Depending on the ATS system, there are systems that parse a résumé's content into categories and then scan it for specific and relevant keywords to determine if the job application should be passed along to the recruiter."
Erica offered three essential hacks to ensure your application passes through without white wording. First, she said: "Tailor your résumé to the job description. Different companies prefer different qualifications and require different skills. Customize your résumé to each prospective employer."
The second: "Match your résumé keywords to skills listed in the job description for the role you are applying for. The idea is to try to optimize for ATS search and ranking algorithms by paying close attention to the keywords you include on your résumé. Keywords are mostly the hard skills requirements listed in the job description."
And the third: "Use long-form AND acronym versions of keywords. Some ATS will only return résumés with the exact keywords the recruiters would search for. For example, if you included 'Demand Supply Platform' in your résumé but the recruiter searched for 'DSP' your profile may not appear in the results."
So while it may be a pain, Erica recommended that the best way to get your résumé noticed by a recruiter is to tailor it specifically to the job description. She said, "Please take some time and tailor your résumé to the role you are applying for. Generic résumés that are not tailored typically do not tell a recruiter what they need to know for the role they are recruiting for."