Personal touch career services logo

Rock-Solid Resumes. Reliable Career Advice. Real Transformations.


Resume Mythbusting: Using white text for keywords in your resume

Apr 29, 2023

Are you frustrated with being screened out by the HR computers? Yes, many people are. They know that the dreaded applicant tracking system (ATS) is searching for specific keywords to determine if a human being will actually see your resume, not to mention if you will get an interview.


 In fact, you might be tempted to follow a trend on Tik Toc about how to fool those screening computers. Specifically, you pull up all the keywords from the job description or Chat GBT. Then you enter them as white text in the footer of the resume. Sometimes people will even make the font tiny, such as 1-point font, to hide them further. That way, the computers will see all the keywords, and hopefully, you will get through the screening process.


 So, does this actually work?




And here's why:


While it might be a new thing on Tik Toc, this strategy to fool the screening computers goes way back 15 or 20 years ago, when HR started using the ATS. IT folks figured out very quickly that HR was screening people based on the keywords. They invented the strategy of placing the keywords in the footer, using white text to mask them.


While this did work to get some candidates past that first level of screening, when the recruiter reviewed the resume, they saw that many of these applicants were not actually qualified for the jobs. They would convert all the text into a normal font, revealing the mass of hidden keywords.


To combat this strategy, HR set their ATS to completely ignore any information in a document's header or footer. Those settings continue to this day; if you ever had your contact information stripped out of the header, now you know why!


Another tactic for keyword packing is to place the white text within the body of the resume itself. Unfortunately, that won't work either.


At some point, the resume will be converted to text, either to populate the application fields or just to keep the database clean. Therefore, the HR department will see the mass of keywords without any real context.


While that might fool the computer, the HR person will not appreciate the trick. Your resume still needs to read well when it gets through to the humans – and they are the ones who grant the interviews.


I like to think of it this way: Resumes are a mix of computer code and poetry. Both of those are difficult to write for different reasons. While some automation tools can help you survive the bots, an experienced writer who understands what recruiters and hiring managers value will create resumes that convert into more interviews.


Not sure how to capture the poetry of your work experience? Contact us for a complimentary consultation and resume review:

Wondering how effective your job search is? Schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation with one of our career coaches, Donna Shannon or Dia Kline

Schedule a Consultation

Is your job search driving you crazy?

Sign up to find out how to get your job search out of quicksand, learn how HR works, and pinpoint your ideal job.

The Sane Job Search eBook

Get your free copy of Donna Shannon's top tips when you subscribe to our newsletter

We won't send spam. Unsubscribe at any time.