Application Tracking Systems have been widely used in recruiting for years, allowing recruiters to throw a resume into a database and search against it via keywords. The only time most recruiters see resumes in full is when it shows up in a search. A resume that is speckled with keywords gets a lot of views—and likely, more opportunities for the candidate. Those without them might linger in databases for years.
However, the fact that most employers use ATSs to review resumes is no longer news. What is new is what some job seekers are doing in hopes to get their resumes picked more often: keyword spam.
Harry Joiner, an executive recruiter who blogs as marketingheadhunter.com, says he's seeing this more and more.
What is it?
"Keyword spam is a long string of words at the end of a resume put there by the job seeker in the hopes of improving his chances that a recruiting researcher will find it in a given resume database," he writes Nov. 9.
Joiner goes on to give a sample list with 117 keywords, from both "online" and "on-line" to "education," "strategy," and "CEO."
"Am I to believe that this candidate is qualified for both B2B and B2C C-level positions? ... I doubt it," Joiner said.
The moral of the story is that you can't be all things to all people, and that candidates will do better to have small, provable competencies rather than a big and fuzzily defined one, Joiner explains.
Learn the lesson of the recent Google Page Rank takedown: When Google found evidence of Web sites trying to game its page rank system by loading superficial information that didn't relate to the content at the URL, it punished them by significantly slashing Page Ranks.
Don't be surprised if recruiters start doing the same.