Candidates Unpack an Old Hack To Get Around AI

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The adoption of AI resume screening by employers is making it more difficult for some job seekers to get hired. But that’s not stopping candidates.

Some 42% of large employers use AI hiring support, said SHRM, meaning job seekers may virtually interview with or be pre-screened by an artificial intelligence program. Hiring platforms and job boards like LinkedIn also use “language-processing” AI tools to filter applicants.

At the same time, many Americans don’t like the use of AI in either reviewing job applications or making final hiring decisions, according to Pew Research. Now, said the Washington Post, many candidates are taking advantage of a new hack called “white fonting” in an effort to get around these systems. 

In white fonting, candidates copy a list of position-relevant keywords — or the job description itself — and paste it into their resume. They then make that section’s font white so they can’t be read by human eye, but can be taken into account by an algorithm.

Barriers to Employment

The trick has recently gained popularity on TikTok as a way to ensure an application gets past the initial round of candidate screening and is seen by a recruiter or hiring manager. But, the Post noted, the practice dates back decades, to the time when job boards first rose in popularity.

“I don’t think it’s ever gone away,” said Eightfold AI Chief Product Officer Sachit Kamat. “It’s probably popular [again] because competition for jobs is high.”

Recruiters say the success of white fonting depends on which technology solutions an employer uses. “But it might contribute 10% or 15% of the variability between a résumé that is ultimately accepted versus one that is rejected,” said ManpowerGroup’s Chief Innovation Officer Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic.

And, white fonting is far from foolproof. For example, if an ATS inputs sections of a resume into an application, the text will be visible to recruiters. 

“The system doesn’t care what color font you write it in,” said Allyn Bailey, SmartRecruiters’ executive director of hiring success services. “If it matches a field, it puts it in.”

Image: iStock

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