Many HR department of large corporations use robots, or bots, to do the initial screening of résumés. They are used to tease out the key parts of your document for key words that match what they are looking for. If they find those words, qualifications and other essentials such as evidence of humour, they go on to a real person. If not, they end up in the recycle bin.

There are three tell-tale signs  that your resume was read by a bot, so rather than complain about them, you may as well admit to yourself that the rules have changed and do what you can to help the robot out by selecting you as a likely candidate.

1. You get called for an interview.

If you got rid of all the graphics on your tome, used all the words they want to see in the job description, and put these words on their proper context, your resume might get selected.

Graphics are particularly upsetting to a bot. You can prove this to yourself if you have a scanner and a graphics-loaded résumé with lots of tables. Print it and scan it. I have a cheap scanner, and the resulting product has little bits of information all over the page. Worse, if there is a border around all the text, the scanner doesn’t detect any words. It thinks you’ve handed in a logo instead of a résumé.  

I suppose that many HR departments have better scanners than I, but why take the chance.  Save the graphics for a resume that you can carry into the interview if you insist, but use a simpler one for the application.

2. You don’t get called in for an interview.

If your resume has lots of graphics, yet has all the right stuff they called for, there is an excellent chance that the bot will de-select you.  If you have the right stuff and don’t have the context, you may also be de-selected. If you are applying for an IT job, for example, and you say you are familiar with a particular programing language, and you neglect to mention it in your employment history, you may also be de-selected.


All these years you have been striving to limit the size of your résumé to one page. Robots don’t care how long it is. They can easily read a three page tome in less than a picosecond. Help the bot put your words into context. The real human won’t mind either, as the bot has already selected you, and they’ll have a great time investigating a few pre-screened résumés rather that thousands of ones that conform to the old one page rule.

In other words, the new rule is, “Make it as long as it needs to be.”

3. There is no evidence that the interviewers have seen your résumé.

This happened to me twice. The HR department only sent my name and telephone number to the employers.  On both instances, I gave copies to the interviewers to show them off.  In both instances, I referred to it several times to answer their questions.

They seemed to enjoy reading it – even if it was three pages long.

Mike Broderick , a one- time archaeologist, is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counsellor with the Fraser Health Authority in Port Coquitlam where he helps people with mental health disabilities find and keep full or part time employment .

He WAS the Employment Specialist for the Neil Squire Society in Burnaby where he found employment for people with physical disabilities, A Supported Employment Coordinator at THEO BC (now the Open Door Group), and a case manager at Community Fisheries Development Centre where he helped people move from the fishing industry to something else because there, “Aint no fish.” This means he is VERY familiar with how a modern day resume should look.

He is an active ambassador with the Vancouver Board of Trade and a member of the Labour Task Force of the Burnaby Board of Trade He does some work as a field Archaeologist, is a fitness instructor and frequent contributor of fitness humour articles to Alive Magazine. He is always saying, “If you can’t be fit, you can at least be funny.”

He lives in Port Coquitlam with his spouse Cecelia. You can reach him at home at or at 604-464-4105. If you’re looking for a career change, he is the Spin Doctor and can give you a resume makeover at competitive rates.


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