Why Matching on Key Words Doesn’t Work

opinion Mar 03, 2021

Keyword matching in applicant tracking systems (ATS) is like the ever-changing search algorithm in Google. Recruiters receive so many resumes per job posting and a good proportion aren’t even close to the mark, so they have to come up with creative ways not to even see these resumes. The average job seeker has worked out that a human doesn’t see the resume in the first pass; therefore if there is any chance to been seen by an actual person, they MUST match to the job posting, even if it is an exaggeration, or out and out lies.

So how does the keyword match work? It is pretty straightforward. The recruiter simply highlights the words in the posting that are most relevant to the position. These are fed into the ATS and when the resume comes through the online process, the words are matched. Herein is the problem.  It used to be words that were matched and then it went to whether someone had a degree or not, now it has moved to how many years someone has been in a job or some derivative of this. Recruiters by nature or necessity are doing whatever they can to reduce the piles of resumes they have for each position.  If they are lucky to work for a company that uses an ATS, their life is made a little easier, but a great number of good candidates are being overlooked.

Anyone can change the words in a resume to match the job posting. Unless a “real” person is looking at the resume, the essence of the job seeker is seldom seen and the resume seldom portrays the true job seeker, as people are so much more than the words on the paper.

If we continue to do the same things and expect different results, we are the insane ones.  ~  Albert Einstein

Ever had a great blind date?

A job interview is just like a blind date, you know where and when, but you don’t know the who!

How will this person react to you?

What will they think?

Will you make a great first impression?

If you have had the obligatory phone interview first, you will a little insight into the interviewer, but if you knew how you matched to the other things that really matter, you would have that extra advantage.