Career Advice

Don't Get Your Resume Rejected by Robots

by CareerFitter

You’ve spent hours crafting the most appealing resume to showcase all your monumental career and academic achievements. Not only that, you have spent an immeasurable amount of time on experiences that have built up your resume, identified all your true workplace strengths, and uncovered all the cover letter secrets.  It seems like you did everything perfectly and yet, still no phone call. 

rejected resume

The question still lingers; did they even read it? The answer could quite possibly be, they never even got the chance. 

Nowadays, you are no longer competing to capture the attention of hiring managers, but also to appease artificial intelligence tests. Technology has become a commonplace tool for employers to rapidly sort through potentially hundreds of applicants to find the right candidate. 

The problem is that even the most ideal candidates resume can easily get tossed or flagged due to simple misunderstandings from the applicant tracking software simply because of how your resume might be structured. 

Let’s dive in on how to optimize your resume for all reviewers, whether they are human, or not.

Not so Intelligent Machines

intelligent machines

Artificial intelligence can be an efficient tool to save employers money, but when your resume is getting processed, the machine is not intelligent enough to infer and process whether you are the right candidate for the job. 

The machine does not have the capability to empathize with your words or draw conclusions outside of what aspects it is instructed to look for. 

To cater to the software, It is always best to examine the phrasing of the job description and then adjust your resume to be a document that directly answers it. 

Using similar keywords will make it easier for the machine to understand your relevancy and not mistakenly mark your resume as unfit. 

When dealing with software it is important you not have any gray areas. Information should be structured with black and white transparency.

Format or get Flagged


Headers can potentially alter the outcome of your resume scanning, and so you should always implement headers that are straightforward and standard. 

An example of a straightforward header could be “Professional Experience”.

The formatting should be simple, and you should avoid using PDF documents as that can be more difficult for robots to examine. 

Examples of fonts that are standard include Times New Romans and Arial. 

It is more readable for the software if you use at least above 10 font size.

Dates are one of the most key elements to include as a standard command within the software is to calculate your timeline of work experience to see if it adheres to the minimum work experience the company is looking for. 

Researching the company's preferred work experience will allow you to make sure you don’t accidentally minimize your experience, as there may be areas that fulfill that type of experience that you can also factor in. 

Making sure your time experience clearly displays the minimum or more, if applicable, is necessary as you can explain other experience factors later on to ensure you don’t get your resume flagged inaccurately. 

Formatting correctly will help you secure high paying jobs with a degree or also high-paying jobs without a degree,  as other applicants may not be as prepared to not trigger the technology.

man holds resume

Human Reviewers

In standard hiring practice, your resume may first encounter a human reviewer who is not the hiring manager, but someone whose role is to see which applicants clearly match the job description. 

Since these individuals are not extensively trained in the details of determining who is a good fit for the job, they rely heavily on comparing you to the job description. 

The first human reviewers are also still likely sifting through a multitude of applications. 

A large number of applications combined with their minimal training makes it crucial to clearly demonstrate how you align with the job description. 

Do not assume that the reviewer can make connections with your experiences and this role. Never assume that they will infer the ways in which your skills might be transferable. 

Black and white thinking is likewise best with this, as you should not leave gray areas for the reviewer to get confused about how you fit into this role.

The goal is to make your resume as understandable to the first reader as possible. Keeping consistent formatting and readable font size makes the resume visually appealing. 

It is important that you are intentional with where you place the information about yourself that is most significant. 

Important information should be showcased front and foremost as you want to put emphasis on your career highlights. 

Remember, it is essential to highlight the ways in which you are relevant to the employers as their main focus is how you can help them. 

Be strategic about how you present yourself, but do not be inaccurate, as that can be costly later on if you are not truthful.

Appealing to the Hiring Manager


It is best practice to have multiple versions of your resume so that if your resume is going directly to the hiring manager, you can send a version that is less basic to distinguish you from others and is more personalized to you. 

Due to the fact that hiring managers have more expertise, this gives you the freedom to embellish your resume to show more of yourself. 

Networking within the corporation's community is ideal so that you can get an employee referral that can allow you to bypass the mass resume software and get you closer to the hiring manager. 

After you have been referred or if you went directly to the hiring manager yourself, it is still important to demonstrate precisely how you fit into this role. 

Prioritize your most important features about yourself by placing them towards the top and include extras about yourself in areas of the resume that you don’t immediately notice first.

To Cater to People or Technology?

One challenge you may encounter is determining who will be reading your resume, and this ultimately depends on your self-marketing strategy. 

Larger Fortune 500 companies are more likely to use technology to view your resume, so with larger companies, it is best to format your resume to satisfy the software. 

On the contrary, smaller companies are more people-oriented and are more likely to empathize with your resume. Personalization in this circumstance is best here. 

Having multiple versions of your resume and doing a little research on which reviewer you are targeting is key. 

woman working from home

If you are seeking a work from anywhere career then you are likely being examined from afar and since these jobs are in high demand, you are subject to getting placed in the software sorter. 

The covid pandemic has also increased the likelihood of being processed by technology as it creates less contact. Now more than ever you should perfect your resume for technology and seek good jobs out that are out there post pandemic.

All in all, it is critical that you are prepared for less trained personal reviewers, applicant tracking software, and the final human reader.

The time is now to get your resume out of the robot's rejection pile and into the hands of the hiring manager. You can also leverage AI to fine-tune or build a resume from stratch if you are having trouble trying to work in important keywords for applicant tracking systems. Check our guide on how to use ChatGPT to write a resume for more details.


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