beef up your resume with other potential keywords and phrases without making your application look like a word-search puzzle


Recently I read a clever tip in my newspaper to make sure that your resume will survive the review by employers' automated software systems that read for keywords matching those stated in a position's job order.

"You need a 95 (percent) to 100 percent match for a position; otherwise you're likely wasting your time in applying," the article explains.

Here's the tip: "You can beef up your resume with other potential keywords and phrases without making your application look like a word-search puzzle. Enter keywords at the end of the document and select the words and color the font to 'white' so that they will not appear when printed out or viewed on the monitor. This way the electronic 'eye' will see them when sorting, but the human eye of a recruiter won't."

Why haven't you written about this cool technique? -- R.E.T.

Because the idea is a mirage that doesn't work. It's not a new idea, and here's the gist of what I wrote in a book six years go about the invisible-keyword flimflam.


Some technically sophisticated and crafty job seekers are packing digital resumes with every keyword they can find, whether or not the words actually describe their qualifications.

They highlight keywords they don't want to show up, and then change the font color from black to white to match the background color.

In a normal onscreen review, the eye doesn't see the misleading keywords.

Their goal is to improve their employment chances by scoring a high ranking in search results when search engines, sifting through a database of qualified applicants, find those keywords and raise their resumes to the top of the electronic heap.

Unraveling the ruse is simple but time-consuming, irking the recruiter who's doing the digging.

To discover hidden keywords, the recruiter highlights an applicant's entire resume, then pastes it into a Microsoft Word document.

Next, the recruiter highlights the text and changes the font color to black.

That's when the recruiter sees the deceit: Standing between the paragraphs are all the keywords that were not visible or printable until the font color was changed from white to black.

Once outed, the applicant becomes persona non grata -- for all the company's jobs.

The offending applicants, who truly may be desperate, are perceived as such -- and desperate doesn't sell.

Upshot: Forget the white-font hidden keyword flimflam.



I exceeded goals set for me (in writing) and achieved monthly bonuses for the last six months. I have not seen any of these bonuses, as my company has been acquired by another firm. Can a company retroactively change a bonus plan, cheating me out of bonuses I've already earned? -- T.Y.

Because you have delivered on a deal in writing, your chances of getting what's owed you are good. Contact an employment (plaintiff's) lawyer in your state to be sure. A telephone call or letter from your attorney may be all it takes to get your employer to settle up. Does your company want to be known for cheating employees? Word gets around on Web sites such as


Despite all the talk about teaching being such a secure career, my community has issued layoff notices to 900 teachers. I'm thinking about leaving the classroom and getting into instructional technology.

Is this a promising field? -- I.C.

Instructional technology combines adult learning theory, instructional systems design and performance technology. You would design systematic training programs for business and schools.


Your best preparation is to earn a graduate degree in instruction design or its equivalent.

Ask questions at the American Society for Training and Development ( Be sure to ask about layoffs in the field and whether the work is more or less secure than classroom teaching.






Skip Invisible White Font Keyword Flimflam on Resumes. Job Search & Career Networking | Jobs & Careers
Jobs & Careers Advice - Joyce Lain Kennedy - Careers Now