Are Bots Reading My Resume And Screening Me Out?

We speak with job seekers every day, and in doing so one of the more common questions we’ve heard lately:

“Are bots screening me out?”

The truth is, you are giving the enterprise too much credit as it relates to talent acquisition. Some applicant tracking systems force you to go through a web form validation process. A few of them have partnered with a new startup to take a basic script and create a “bot” which feels more like an automated telephone system similar to my cable service provider or bank. In some cases, companies use sourcing tools which do stack rank talent based on an algorithm. These scenarios are all true to some extent. In every case, however, the behind-the-scenes is less sophisticated than you think and is also less common than you think. That said, bots are not screening you out — yet.  


[photo credit: NeONBRAND]

So who is reading my resume then?

More often than not humans screen you out, or you lost in a sea of unreviewed applicants. First, let’s take a walk through the typical process for posting a job in a corporate environment:

  1. Hiring manager sends an email to someone saying they need to open a “req” (or mentions it in passing through the hallway)
  2. The person they sent the email to (usually a recruiter) asks the hiring manager for a job description so they can post the job via their ATS, inherently posting it to and myriad other job boards
  3. Hiring manager sends old or canned job description back to recruiter
  4. Recruiter posts job

Now, let’s take a look at what happens once they post a job:  

  • Most roles yield a high volume of job applicants (many answers out there but minimum you’ll find is 40 applicants per job, max 250+)  
  • Talent teams respond to referrals first, proactively sourced second, career site third, job board last
  • Checking applicants in their ATS is not a daily habit, it’s not even a weekly habit. More typically, it’s a check until-we-feel-good-about-our-pipeline, habit.

Checking applicants mean spending 6 seconds or less looking at each resume. If they are determined, then they might filter candidates by specific filters (e.g. education, location), tags, keywords, or even do a full-text search. Again, this is all done manually by a human. So not quite the bot you were expecting to hear about, right?

Bot or Not Here’s How To Improve Your Application Response Rate

Alleviate this pain by taking a more concerted and proactive approach to applying for jobs:

  1. Decide what you want out of your next opportunity
  2. Keep your resume simple and to the point
  3. Apply for jobs you are qualified for (or at least almost qualified for)
  4. Set and manage your expectations regarding the number of applications, interviews required, and time it will take start to finish in your job search
  5. Build a personalized job board
  6. Keep meeting new people but sharing the same consistent story about what you want
  7. Keep your head up, keep pushing. Remember, you are not alone.

In Conclusion

Eliminate your fear of the infamous resume-screening bot. These bots aren’t sitting on top of applicant tracking systems gunning for you…yet. Take a concerted and proactive approach to finding the right opportunities, which ultimately increases your chances of landing that next interview! Don’t let technology be an excuse or slow you down in your job search. Technology is forcing all of us to adapt, continue moving, and find new ways to solve old problems. The job search is no different. Let’s go!



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