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Artificial intelligence is paving the way for the future of business. It’s creating more accurate data insights and streamline operations. In the process, it’s redefining how organizations acquire talent, even for those at the top of the ladder.

In my role as a top executive resume writer, I’m frequently asked about the role of artificial intelligence in screening resumes. More importantly, C-suite candidates wonder how they can craft a standout resume that moves past the robots and the hands of an executive board. 

When reviewing your resume, here are some ways executives can work around the robot on the other side of the interview table: 


Screening Algorithms Get to Work 

Screening algorithms work very similarly to how SEO works for websites. Application Trackers, programs that use natural language processing, sift through resumes to identify the best candidates for the job. The program does this by searching for keywords and linked phrases within the resume. The most essential keywords are generally found within the job posting and contain the knowledge, skills and abilities a company searches for in their ideal candidate. Then, the program finds matches between the resume and the keywords in the job description. During this process, these programs give scores to each resume that seemingly fit the job position to help HR professionals determine which candidates are qualified.

Next, the program searches for job requirements, which include experience, training, education and licenses or certifications. Then, the program continues to score each resume according to the percentage of keywords and phrasing matches, creating a ranking system amongst the candidates. Hiring managers often determine the order of importance given to each qualification so that a specific skill might hold more significance than another. 

More sophisticated programming can even calculate how long a job candidate has held a position. For example, if employers want four to six years of experience, the program can calculate how close each candidate is to that window of experience.


Algorithm Optimization 

When it comes to your resume, “algorithm optimization” ensures that candidates tailor their resumes to a specific role with the addition of keywords and phrases that appear in the job positon’s description, specs and competencies. This way, your resume meets the search functions of algorithm screenings. For instance, if the company you’re applying to wants a CEO with a background in econometric modeling, then the job candidate needs to include that keyword in their resume. Avoid using an umbrella term like “statistical modeling” in its place because it may be too broad for screening algorithms. A candidate will want to match the keywords on the job posting as closely as possible.


How to Optimize your Resume for Algorithms

There are a few “keyword clues” to watch for when crafting a resume. These clues will help you know what phrases and words to include in your resume. As mentioned previously, surface-level attributes which include experience, educational background and licenses can be identified in the job requirements. 

The next clue to look for is the background/experience. An employer wants to know their prospective leaders have a background that matches what they need. So, make sure to include phrases that deal with the essential tasks and expertise you provided while in your previous role. For example, you may mention how you “conducted analysis” or other key phrases that demonstrate an ability required of the position.

Additionally, some skills are less measurable, but equally important. For instance, “people management” or “project coordination” that talk about your ability to execute a task are important to include in your resume. If a job listing says “manage a project from start to completion”, make sure to mention how you produced work from start to finish. Some sophisticated programs can link text to determine that this is what’s communicated.

Finally, job posts often use adverbs or adjectives that emphasize the magnitude of a skill, task or experience. Common adjectives to use include “significant”, “strong” or “compelling”. Adverbs include “successfully” or “effectively”. Of course, nouns like “mastery” and “proficiency” are common. Look to mirror similar words in your own resume.


Are Cover Letters Still Important?

In the age of robot screenings, cover letters are essential. While a smart resume answers the job description and requirements, the cover letter is often what hiring professionals view once a candidate gets past the screening round.

A cover letter allows you to speak to the job in a more intimate way that a resume cannot. You’ll want to speak more fluidly to the stories and experiences which help highlight your leadership capabilities that show why you’re a good fit for the company. It’s an opportunity to get noticed.  

Some companies now use algorithms to sift through cover letters, but these algorithms are more open-ended according to Dr. Jon Christiansen, the Chief Intelligence Office of Sparks Research which helps Fortune 500 companies make data-driven decisions.

While some bots are programmed to look for sentiments and enthusiasm, they’re still rare, especially since hiring employers will want to read these letters from top candidates.


Don’t feel discouraged if you don’t check all the requirements in a job listing. These are more preferences, rather than requirements. As an executive-level candidate, you likely have the insight on how to tailor a job description to your unique attributes and speaking to how you can help the company grow. Remember, you have your own mark to make on the organization, so highlight the skills that make you stand out.