TikTok can be full of advice, but sometimes it’s best to get a second opinion.
When Kristen Fife, a freelance recruiter who has consulted for Twitter and Microsoft, saw a viral TikTok posted last week that was doling out advice from the ’90s, she laughed.
In the post, career TikToker and COO at Wonsulting, Jerry Lee, advises people to copy-paste a job description into resumes in tiny font with white ink. The idea is that it optimizes your resume so the applicant tracking systems (ATSs) can find it better.
@jerryjhlee #stitch with @user5305548256135 ♬ Little Bitty Pretty One – Thurston Harris
But, copy-pasting a job description for keyword points is “pointless,” says Fife — and could even hurt you getting the job.
“That particular advice has been around [for three decades]as long as there have been applicant tracking systems,” or ATSs, Fife said.
Lee’s popular account offers a plethora of advice from how to use Harvard’s resume-writing resources to looking up large companies’ interview questions ahead of time.
In the viral TikTok, which has almost 10 million views, Lee uses a common TikTok joke format where people share a “secret tip” or “life hack” by telling people “not” to do something. He stitches another video that asks, “What are some unethical life hacks?”
He replies, “Don’t copy the roles and responsibilities onto the bottom of your resume. Don’t make this font size one, like that. And don’t change the font color to white, because you don’t [hide] text on your resume.”
Wonsulting did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Of course, the joke is he’s telling you to do it. But the subject (and confusion about whether or not it was actually a joke) sparked a wealth of discussion in the comments.
“Don’t convert it to a read-only pdf format to prevent them from checking either,” one person wrote.
“Don’t make the text -72 and leave it black, so it appears to be a period so no one highlights and finds the white ink,” another would-be copy-paster added, with a winky face.
Others pushed back. “As a recruiter- don’t do that. We definitely will find it and it’s just sus.”
So should you try this decades-old hack? entrepreneur spoke with two hiring experts to see what job applicants can do to make their resumes stand out.
Should You Copy-Paste a Job Description Into Your Resume?
Short answer: no.
There are a few reasons, Fife says. First, when recruiters use search tools to find keywords on resumes in ATSs, it is more likely that they are doing so with a pool of existing resumes the company already has from past applications. So, it might not help you get a job.
Second, you might get caught. Fife was highly skeptical that an ATS would not find text in a footer, in the super-tiny black text so it looks like a period, or in white lettering, as some of the commenters advised.
It looks like “a desperate move,” she said. People should try to meet the job description with their resumes, she added, and noted that seeing someone do this “hack” would turn her off.
Plus, because of federal regulations, any employer that does a certain amount of business with the federal government has to follow a certain set of rules to prevent discrimination when hiring, known as OFCCP compliance.
“Basically, that boils down to, we have to look at all of the resumes,” she said. OFCCP-compliant companies include Boeing and Amazon, and as a whole, it covers over 12.8 million workers.
Even if a company doesn’t fall under those rules, Fife says, most recruiters read resumes themselves.
“I don’t know any internal recruiter that doesn’t read the resumes that come across their desk,” she said.
Are There Any Resume Hacks That Work?
Lisa Dupras, a resume writer and owner of Elev8 Coaching, said it probably would be easier to just use the job description to write your resume and match keywords manually.
“The idea is that your resume matches the job description. That’s what we preach,” she said. “It should match authentically,” she added.
Dupras also noted she understands the appeal of Lee’s page in general. “Jerry Lee is trying to shake up the industry,” she said, and connect with younger people, especially those who can’t afford resume-writers like herself.
“I like the idea of going to the masses, but not hacking the system,” she added.