How to Beat a Bot Reading Your Resume?

Aug 30, 2023

At least 99 percent of all Fortune 500 companies are now using AI tools like ATS or applicant tracking systems to screen candidates during the recruitment process


75% of resumes are simply not even seen by human eyes.


  • LinkedIn Pulse: here


Recently, a friend asked me to review her resume for a leadership position. I googled the ‘Perfect CXO Resume’. LinkedIn came up with this. I then asked a few industry professionals about this template. They said that this template may have worked 5 years ago, but not anymore. This was reconfirmed by others who said that almost all Fortune 500 companies’ resumes are now filtered by ATS bots. What the bots want is not the perfect resume for human consumption. Thereby hangs a tale of a majority of traditional templated resumes rejected by bots.

  • ATS and Applicant Tracking Systems read text data, not formats.
  • Fancy formats in columns and boxes confuse them
  • Bots prefer text, but at a pinch will accept WORD, not even PDF.


Here are a few articles to guide, 1 and 2. Take time to read these and more like these instead of ‘Perfect Resume recommendations,’ if you want to meet the recruiter.


Some more guidelines are based on talent manager inputs.

  • Limit resumes to 2 pages in case a human wants a look-see
  • Start with a personal statement of what you want and why, with justification of capabilities, especially if you’re exploring cold.
  • Use the fabled Google XYZ framework, ‘achieved X, with success measures of Y, by actions Z. Be SMART.
  • Provide sequentially, with clear headers, with no formatting, and fancy fonts (use Arial or Verdana 12, they are safe), the following details:
    • Full name
    • Email ID and Contact Number
    • Brief Personal Statement
    • Experience in a chronological format, with the more recent first and in-detail
    • Academic background
    • Awards, Publications, if relevant
    • Special Interests, if relevant
    • No family history, photos, and gender, age, or race indicators please, we are MNCs


  • Expand all experiences under the same SEO headers such as
  • Leadership Development: training, coaching, mentoring…
  • Business Development: increasing revenue, market share…
  • Performance Improvement: Project and Process work…
  • Profit Improvement: P&L, Cost savings, Innovation…
  • Strategic Thinking: Business Scenario Planning


Bots and Spiders like keyword repetition:

  • Where relevant, and this could be your differentiator, refer to company values (from the company’s website) and align your experiences to the company’s core values. Customize your resume to companies you would kill to join.


There is no guarantee that even the best resume will get you a call. However, it will greatly improve the probability.

If you wish to ensure a call, find a leader in the company who will refer you. Many large companies prefer referrals. Mail them your resume, and follow their recommendation to contact a recruiter. If you’re good, companies will want you. Companies are increasingly more desperate for talent than those individuals are to find a company.

Photo by Alex Knight on Unsplash

Ram Ramanathan, MCC
Ram Ramanathan, MCC


Ram is the Founder and a Principal at Coacharya. As the resident Master and mentor coach, Ram oversees and conducts all aspects of coaching and training services offered under the Coacharya banner.

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