Full Transparency: The Truth About Invisible Job Descriptions on Resumes

Q: “Someone posted in a Facebook group that I should copy and paste the job description at the end of my resume in 1-point white font, so it’s invisible to the human eye. Is this a good idea?”

A: Wow.

The person who posted this must have cheated on exams in school. Cut corners at work. Perhaps lied to clients to close sales.

They are going to have a hard time in life.

Nobody likes cheaters. Including recruiters.

Using deceptive tactics to manipulate job application systems is a bad idea. Here’s why:

This behavior is unethical.

Misrepresenting your qualifications or trying to cheat the system is unethical and doesn’t look good on you.

This deception is easily recognizable by robots and humans.

Many companies use applicant tracking systems (ATS) designed to identify such practices. Also, even though the text might be invisible to the human eye, it could still appear in the document’s metadata or through processing (think being parsed into a spreadsheet).

Won’t you look foolish when this is front-and-center for a recruiter? Maybe they were going to call you for an interview, but by trying to cheat the system, you blew it.

ATS look for keywords in context.

This strategy assumes that ATS work like search engines, weighing keyword repetition, which is not entirely true.

ATS scan for keywords to match the job description in context.

For instance, if you’re applying for a programming job, the ATS would prefer seeing the keyword “Python” in the context of your previous job experience or skills rather than hidden in the job description.

Misrepresenting yourself could lead to legal consequences.

Especially in regulated industries or government jobs where misrepresentation on an application can lead to significant penalties, this strategy is not worth the risk.

If you can’t meet the job requirements, you will flop the interview anyway.

The goal of a resume and job application process should be to find the best fit for both the company and the candidate. This kind of approach doesn’t serve that purpose.

Either you’ll get found out during the interview process and you just wasted everyone’s time, or you’ll fail at the job you’re unqualified for, wasting everyone’s time.

Don’t waste everyone’s time.

Rather than trying to cheat the system, apply for jobs where you meet at least 70% of the requirements, giving examples in your Experience section of how you’ve used the requested skills to create value for your former employers.

This will give you the best chance of landing that interview — an interview you can nail — while maintaining your integrity and self-respect.

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