How to Create a Resume That Beats the Bots (and Looks Good to Humans, Too)

Have you applied to dozens of jobs only to get zero replies? Are you getting automated responses that a job has been filled without ever having a chance to interview? Maybe you’re not even sure if the recruiter or management team is getting your resume in the first place. If this sounds like you, then it’s time to look into creating a resume that not only looks amazing to potential employers, but beats the bots that might be holding you back. 

Job seekers often have to meet two goals with their resumes. They need a resume that not only reads well and gives a hiring manager all the information they need, but also gets through the AI bots and reaches the right person’s desk. So, how can you make sure your resume does both of those things? Here’s what you should know about writing a resume as a modern job seeker.

Getting Through the Bots: Must-Haves

The first thing you have to worry about is making sure your resume gets through the AI bots that filter candidates who don’t have the skills the hiring manager is looking for. To do that, you need to do a little research and consider tweaking your resume’s design.

Research Job Description Keywords

First, you’ll want to understand which keywords the bot is looking for. Look at the job description: what specific terminology comes up that you could use in your resume? If you’re applying to work as an SEO marketer, for example, the job ad might ask for someone with SEO, analytics, and social media experience. So, you’ll want to write a job skills section in your resume that states your SEO experience, familiarity with Google Analytics, and social media management experience.

Identifying and including target key terms this way makes it easier for the AI to see that your resume has the skills the hiring manager is looking for. Since the bot will recognize those terms, it is more likely that your application will make it through the initial filter. 

Use Keyword Phrases

Keywords make the dream work when you have to apply for a job online. As mentioned above, job-specific keywords can help you get through the AI filter. But another option is including phrases that match the job description verbatim. If the job ad asks for “over three years of experience” or “a willingness to travel,” for example, consider adding those phrases to your resume to help it stand out from the crowd.

Avoid Heavy Design Elements

Finally, don’t use heavy design elements. Things like tables and charts look great to humans, but they can make it harder for the AI to read the content and may get filtered out more quickly than resumes with a simpler format. If you feel you need certain design elements it can be worth creating one resume that is easily readable for AI and a separate resume that  you will share with the people interviewing you as you move along in the hiring process.  You will want to protect the integrity of the document so converting it to a portable document format (PDF) will be your best bet to maintain the design elements across multiple applications..

Made it Through AI? Now, Consider the Human Element

Once you’ve identified the keywords and statements you want to include in your resume, it’s time to design a document that helps you land the job after it’s in human hands. There are a few things that humans tend to like more than others when they’re reviewing new applications. 


The first thing to remember is that you need to be concise. Hiring managers go through dozens, if not hundreds, of applications and want to find the information they need quickly and easily. Don’t include a drawn-out introduction or try to woo the reader over with lengthy descriptions that cover several pages. Instead, stick to the facts and show them why you’re right for the job.


Another thing to remember is that your resume should be as organized as possible. This is helpful for the AI bots as well as for human readers, because both want to be able to scan your document to find out more about you. The difference with humans is that they don’t want to have to dig through paragraphs to locate your degree or scrutinize your formatting to understand what you’re trying to say. Avoid unnecessary design elements, such as icons, stylistic details, or colors, that can create visual clutter. Stick with a simple format of listing your work history and qualifications in chronological order as follows:

  • Personal information (name, email, address, and phone number)
  • Summary/introduction paragraph
  • List of skills and experience, starting with current roles
  • Education
  • Certificates
  • Interests

By organizing your resume this way, you’ll make it easier for a reader to scan and pick out vital details. 

Demonstrable Accomplishments

Finally, show your best work. You don’t necessarily want to brag, but you also don’t want to be modest. Write down all your achievements, everything positive you’ve done at school or work, and put your best foot forward. Focus on measurable successes, such as a percentage increase in employee retention or sales.

The Right Design and Content Gets Your Resume Past the Bots

You may be frustrated with the application process now but with some simple changes to your resume, you can improve your chances of getting past the bots and impressing the hiring manager with your skills and expertise.