A Resume DON'T: Don't Do White On White Keywords

by: Joanne Meehl

Last week I was doing a presentation for over 50 professionals in job search about keywords. Keywords in a resume, LinkedIn profile, during networking meetings, and so forth. These nouns, adjectives, and phrases are growing more and more important in this technological age when so many resumes and LinkedIn profiles are being checked for them.

The old "white on white" text trick came up. This was something that began around the dawn of the Internet job search, back in the mid-90s: Create paragraphs of keywords, then put that paragraph in a blank area of your resume, then turn them white. They become invisible.

Not any more. Today, those are highly visible. And they'll get you in trouble for hiding them.

Someone in the room was in a seminar last month where the "expert speaker" TOLD people to do this in their resumes. What that speaker did not know is something that's pretty well documented for at least a year, in publications like the Wall Street Journal and technical blogs: that these "white" words CAN be seen by today's screening software programs. And they say if you do this, your resume (meaning, you) will be thrown out as dishonest and lazy.

That's not what you want, is it?

And given how important they are, why HIDE them? They should be visible to the human eye as well as to the digital one, and they should be woven into your bulleted items and summaries, not just plunked in with no thought.

Now that I've heard this yet again, it launches me on a personal mission to inform those who are telling you in job search to do this "trick", that they are spreading damaging advice. This advice is dangerous, so those teaching it have to learn they should stop.

So please send the link to this article to that person, as a favor to them and to those they speak to each week. You'll prevent a lot of damage to unsuspecting job search candidates.

Or alert me (either reply here or use the Contact form on my site) to those career counselors or others who have told you this, along with a way of contacting them. I will gently contact them and tell them what I've written above.



Not sure what keywords are best for you? Or where to put them or how to use them? Contact Joanne for help.


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