Applying to jobs can feel like a numbers game, and there’s no shortage of hacks to try and get your resume into the hands of a hiring manager.
But one so-called tip that’s gone viral on TikTok several times over may not be so foolproof. The hack, known as “white fonting,” is “bad advice,” says Farah Sharghi, a recruiter who estimates she’s conducted more than 10,000 interviews at companies like Google, Lyft and TikTok.
The idea stems from standard advice to tailor your resume using keywords in the job description. In this case, the strategy advises job-seekers to copy and paste the job description, shrink it down to a small font, use white text, and then hide it on your resume so it’s not viewable to the human eye but can be scanned by an artificial intelligence screener and move you into the next round of consideration.
“It drives me nuts,” Sharghi says of the trick, “and there’s always a resurgence every year on TikTok where somebody makes a video about it, and it gets millions of views and people do it.”
Ultimately, though, “it’s not going to work,” she says.
‘It’s just not a good idea’
Sharghi understands why the idea of using the white-font trick on your resume sounds appealing.
The strategy follows the way Google developed an algorithm that scrapes information from websites and ranks them in search results based on certain keywords.
But it doesn’t work the same way when you submit your resume to an applicant tracking system, Sharghi says: “It’s a tracking system, not a decision-making system.” She hasn’t heard of many applicant tracking systems that actually rank resumes based on keywords.
“Applicant tracking systems use optical character recognition technology to parse data, meaning to pull the text out of the resume,” she explains. “So what ends up happening is it’s going to pull those key words and it’s going to put it somewhere.” Once a human intervenes and reads the text, they’ll quickly see that the job description has been lifted to pad your resume.
The extra text could distract the reader from the actual substance of your resume that spells out your qualifications.
“It’s just not a good idea,” Sharghi says.
Relying on the white-font trick means your resume is weak
If anything, relying on the white-font trick could signal much bigger issues with your candidacy.
Resorting to the shortcut really means “you’re clearly not confident in the resume itself,” Sharghi says. “And if you’re not confident in the resume itself, then why is that? How is it that you’re not able to communicate your value through the resume?”
Instead, you might reconsider how you bridge the connection between your skills and experience with what’s being asked in the job description. How can you convey your candidacy using keywords in a way that reflects your real work experience? Remember to be accurate, active and concise.
“Taking that step back and reflecting is a much better use of time,” Sharghi says.