Is resume optimizing cheating?


So recently I reposted a few posts to help people looking for work. One of the posts was about optimizing a resume for ATS and resume databases. I posted or reposted it, and got some interesting feedback form a few recruiters. One said I was telling their secrets, that by telling candidates how to optimize their resumes it will mean they will have more junk resumes to read.  Another said it was cheating or falsifying a resume.


I replied to both. For the first I said, you can look at it that way or you can look at it as an opportunity to find great resumes that you might have overlooked because you were searching for one key word that was not in a candidates resume. Example I used was if you are looking for a “Visual Basic” developer and all you do is look for “Visual Basic” then every candidate who uses VB instead will not get pulled up. Now of course I do know that most experienced recruiters will search under both terms knowing they are the same. However there are allot of young in experienced database recruiters who will not. Also add in you might be looking for something allot more involved than VB and there might be other terms that can be used or the skill or software was called something else at one time. This will especially help recruiters who do not do research prior to sourcing.


For the second I simply said how is it cheating? How is it falsifying anything? All you are doing is ensuring the skills you have can be picked up no matter what buzz words are used to source. You are not lying, just optimizing there is a huge difference. I went on to ask are you cheating or falsifying a job description (JD) when you optimize it? Of course not you are simply ensuring that the JD will come up in a search as close to the top as possible no matter what word the candidates searches for. It is no difference for a candidates and their resume.


In the end they both reluctantly agreed with me. So the morale is Optimizing is not cheating it is simply smart.


Views: 788

Comment by Dean Da Costa on August 7, 2012 at 2:51am

thanks for the English correction. That said did it ever occur to you it was the tip that helped? The people in question did. As for cheap crap, as I said that is your opinion, but last I checked the purpose of a resume is to get the recruiters attention, this trick gets the attention of the ATS without having to waste space, and getting pulled up in the ATS search is the first step to getting a recruiters attention. Nothing cheap about it.

Comment by Ryan Leary on August 7, 2012 at 7:09am

I understand the thoughts on both sides, but lets play nice.... It's a friendly conversation.

Dean - Can you send me the original article link. I have never read the post. 

The point that I am looking to make on the previous comment is simply that the tip of white text is without a doubt irrelevant to online search. It's documented and stricken by all engine crawlers even most 3rd tier search sites. Regardless of what people are telling you on their searches it's been a blacked out SEO practice for at least 6 years. 

Which ATS was your friend using? I am curious to know.

Comment by Dean Da Costa on August 7, 2012 at 9:13am

Ryan I actually agree with you with regads to on line, the original post was nto about on line but about ATS and applying.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 7, 2012 at 2:23pm
My final comment on this is...if something, anything has to be hidden for someone to get what they want it comes down on the dark side. If the skill set is there it should reflect in the resume and there is no reason to hide keywords unless they can't be reflected on the resume because the person doesn't have it. If they have it why hide it? Why climb a greased pole to lie when one can stand on the ground and tell the truth.
Comment by Dean Da Costa on August 7, 2012 at 3:00pm

So you are saying if something is hidden, so when you talk to a candidate you tell them everything? When you right a JD you say everything. When you post a JD you do not optimize it? Answer is no the JD does not say everything, no you do to tell the candidate everything, and yes you do optimize. Once again you use the word "Lie" which is not what the post said at all. All it did was give a way to ensure every permutation of a skill or skills you have can be put on a resume and found by an ATS system without taking up a lot of space. Let me restate this “SKILL YOU HAVE”. Your biggest issue seems to be that if it is hidden it must be a lie which of course is not true at all. You have chosen to make a lot of assumptions all of which are negative. You prefer to think the worst, and that is your choice. That still does not change the fact that this tip works. Your phrase “Why climb a greased pole to lie when one can stand on the ground and tell the truth.” while funny is irrelevant as there is no lying done.

Comment by Sandra McCartt on August 7, 2012 at 5:29pm

If it is not a lie then why not just type it in black. Unless of course the ATS can't read black type.  If you think that typing in white takes up less space than typing in black i have a flash for you.  There are only so many keystrokes to an inch no matter what color they are.  If it is a skill you have it should be reflected on the resume so anyone can see it.  A lot of tips work that are just sleazy or sneaky or CS.  Why not be upfront, honest, type it in black.

For the record, when i talk to a candidate i absolutely tell them everything i know about a job and a company and a location and the hiring authority and the culture. If you don't then shame on you. Do you send them an email with any negatives typed in white so you can say you told them but only a machine could see it. 

Comment by Dean Da Costa on August 7, 2012 at 5:44pm

So much for “My final comment on this is...” oh well I guess. I will try this again, if you have been around awhile and have a large number of skills, software, languages etc. Just listing all the permutations can take up a page. There are recruiters who will search in an ATS and see your resume is 4+ pages long and not even bother. This allows you to save space and still get all the needed words readable by the ATS.

For the record I do not believe for one minute you tell them everything because I am sure there is information your company does not want them to know, or the do not need to know. So sorry not buying it and shame on you for thinking anyone will.


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