How AI Plays a Role in Your Job Search (And How to Get Around It)

When applying for jobs, it is easy to get discouraged by the amount of effort you are making without getting any calls for interviews in return.

You send your resume in response to dozens and dozens of job postings and receive little more than a reply acknowledging your submission.

Don’t lose hope. There is likely a good reason AND a workable solution! 

As it turns out, more and more companies are using an applicant tracking system, or ATS, which means that a bot scans resumes, determining who is and is not qualified for the position. This may seem unfair at first look; however, hiring managers and HR departments are often inundated by hundreds of resumes, and the only way they can sort through them is with technological help.

ATS scans can quickly identify unqualified candidates, allowing hirers to focus on high-quality candidates. In fact, LinkedIn conducted a survey in 2018, indicating that 67% of hiring managers and recruiters say using artificial intelligence (AI) helps them save time.

So, while you may be qualified for the job, ATS looks for specific criteria when scanning resumes. Critics of AI and ATS argue that the systems can establish bias, fail to be transparent or accountable, and do not guarantee accuracy.  Failure to include the ‘right’ keywords in a resume means that even highly-qualified candidates are passed over.

What are your options? 

One is to research as much as possible and determine the keywords you need on your resume by deduction. The issue with this is that you will need to skillfully weave these keywords throughout your resume and cover letter. You might make it past the bots by throwing words at them, but once an HR manager reads your resume, they will recognize that you were trying to bypass the ATS. Your resume needs to be “pleasing” to both bots and humans.

Another option is to hire a professional who can optimize your resume with the keywords that are critical to getting past the AI bots, getting noticed, and getting employed. A professional resume writer can craft a keyword optimized, a well-written cover letter that, along with your resume, will increase your chances of landing an interview.

What are Keywords?

Keywords are words or short phrases that describe the content of something. For webpages, the keywords indicate the page’s subject matter. In the case of employment keywords, they relate to specific qualifications needed for a job.

They may be related to abilities, education level, credentials, skills, and qualities that a recruiter or hiring manager deems desirable in their preferred candidate. Even if an employer does not use ATS to scan job applications or resumes, they are looking for specific traits indicated by a keyword that demonstrate your worthiness as a candidate.

An employer uses ATS to eliminate resumes that do not have specific keywords. Even when an employer does not use AI, keywords will help move your resume from the maybe or no pile to the yes pile, worthy of a second look.

Even websites like LinkedIn use AI (via LinkedIn Recruiter) to scan keywords and rank you among candidates.

Types of Keywords

Your resume keywords should certainly include words related to specific job requirements as listed in a job posting.

These words will pertain to your credentials, competencies, skills, previous experience and employer names. Simply put, your keywords should be words that show anyone reading that you will be a great candidate for the job.

A candidate for a human resource leadership position could use the following keywords:


  • strategic planning
  • succession planning
  • talent retention
  • culture change

Or, a candidate for a finance position in a financial institution or investment business could use the following keywords:


  • risk management
  • business intelligence
  • revenue growth
  • mergers and acquisitions
  • analytics
  • KPIs

Tips for Identifying Keywords

One of the best ways to find keywords for your resume and cover letter is to research job postings similar to the position you want. Run a search of job listings that require similar experience or education and note the words that appear in all of them. You will find them primarily concentrated on the responsibilities and qualifications listed in the postings.

You can also analyze the prospective employer’s website (especially the About Us section) and find words that the employer uses to describe itself. For instance, if you see a catering business that describes itself as happy and vibrant, and you are applying for a chef position, you will want to echo this attitude and outlook in your application.

Do not presume that all employers are the same, even if they are in the same industry. Many keywords will be the same, but with some research, you will be able to match the proper language and tone in your resume and cover letter.

How to Use Keywords in Your resume

It is best to be as specific as possible when including keywords in your resume. The more detailed the keywords, the greater the chances of appearing as the right candidate, with both ATS and hiring managers selecting your resume.

Use strong achievement-focused statements to demonstrate how you meet the desired skill.

Pay close attention to the language the hiring company uses in their postings or marketing materials. Try as best you can to use language that mirrors the company’s values and speaks to what they believe sets them apart from other companies or businesses. Check out the LinkedIn profiles and as well as websites to find the keywords that they are using.

While it is important to use as many keywords related to the position as possible, do not misrepresent yourself by using keywords that speak to skills you do not possess.

Use of skill-related keywords and their synonyms, with keywords and phrases specific to your target industry, certifications, and anything relevant, will identify you as a top candidate for the job. Instead of only using ‘led’ when describing your role, use ‘spearheaded’ or ‘primary lead’ as well so that the AI software will catch more during a scan.

However, it’s important to appreciate that industry keywords can be arbitrary, and there is no defined set of keywords for positions.  Employers develop a list of words, competencies, and requirements that reflect what they are looking for in a job candidate.

Use Keywords Strategically

Use keywords strategically, coupled with achievement-focused, results-driven statements because keyword stuffing your resume is not an effective strategy.

Career Marketing Centre

Not everyone has the skills or time to create a resume that correctly displays their value as an employee. A professional resume writer, like Career Marketing Centre, will figure out the optimal way to identify you as the candidate for the job.

A professional resume writer knows just what recruiters and hiring managers care most about, how far back in your employment history, you must go, and how to describe the value you bring to the table.

If you have been applying for jobs, or aren’t sure where to start, enlist the help of Career Marketing Centre to help you get hired.


Amy WattHow AI Plays a Role in Your Job Search (And How to Get Around It)