What Is White Font and Can It Help My Resume?

white fontMany of my clients ask me if I think it is a good idea to use white fonting on their resume. White fonting is the practice of attempting to manipulate the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that many companies use to sort through mountains of resumes by placing keywords (the words that describe the applicant's skills and abilities) in the white spaces on the resume in a white font so they are not visible to the human eye but can be picked up by the ATS.

At first glance it seems like a clever idea and a great way to pack in those important keywords without compromising the visual appeal of the resume so you can get your resume to the top of the pile and in front of the eyes of the recruiter and hiring manager with greater frequency. But the experts agree that the downsides of this practice far outweigh the benefits. Here's why.

Your resume may not make it past the human scanner.

Even in organizations where parsing software is used to sort candidate resumes, eventually a human will take a look at the resume as well. So while white fonting may help you get in front of the recruiter, it won't help you get past him. If your resume does not contain the right keywords (in a visible font) or prove you have the skills to do the job, that recruiter won't be contacting you -- regardless of how many invisible keywords you stuffed into the margins of your resume.

According to Kelly Dingee, sourcing researcher and trainer at AIRS, "candidates use white fonting thinking 'if they just see my experience, they will hire me.' What they may not realize is that the keywords they've white worded are requirements for the job, and when the human eye reviews the document and doesn't see the required work, they will dump the candidate in favor of someone who has listed the actual skill set or words."

Paul Peterson, national talent resource manager for Grant Thornton LLP, adds, "White fonting can help bring your resume to the top of the search results, but when a recruiter actually looks for a keyword and can't find it on the resume, that resume may be purged from the database by someone who thinks an error in the ATS system caused it to surface in the first place."

You may be dealing with an ATS that can't read white fonts.

All ATS systems are configured differently, and there is no way of knowing how each company's ATS will parse your resume.

According to Bruce A. Hurwitz of Hurwitz Strategic Staffing, "some systems can't read white fonts. So the candidate who is trying to trick the computer system may actually become its victim!"

The recruiter or hiring manager may be one step ahead of you.

White fonting is not a new concept, and many hiring authorities already know how to get around it. Rob McGovern, founder of CareerBuilder and current CEO of JobFox, says "a recruiter has only to highlight the resume text to see the white text, which many of them are smart enough to do."

White font may be visible on some systems.

If you are dealing with an ATS that displays the white font to the human reader, the hiring manager may question your integrity as it relates to the application process. Phil Rosenberg , owner of reCareered says, "the white font may not end up being hidden. How foolish would you look if your scheme to hide keywords was discovered. Some ATS systems strip formatting (including font color, font size and hidden attributes) and just use text; this would display all those cleverly hidden words, and foil your evil plan."

Keywords are an important component of the resume, but it's best to stick to traditional strategies for displaying them on the resume by either creating a competency section or weaving the keywords into the content of the resume. Robin Schlinger, owner of Robin's Resumes suggests, "strive to include all 'hidden' keywords as 'visible' keywords associated with accomplishments. Show how you succeeded (with an example) while using or applying the keyword to solve a problem or do their job. Jessica Silverstein, Principal of Attorney's Counsel agrees. "If an applicant has the skills required for the job they are applying for, those skills should be clearly expressed and highlighted on the resume."

Perhaps Teena Rose, owner of Resume to Referral, summed up the white fonting issue best: "Qualified professional candidates don't cram invisible keywords into their resumes. They leave those foolish antics to the scammers and spammers."

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So, I've used white font a number of times and it does work. Your resume comes to the top of the pile most times and you'll get called for interviews more often. Why? Because HR people and recruiters receive 1000's of resumes for one job and don't have time to sift through all of them. They rely heavily on their automated systems, but can you blame them?

This article would lead you to believe you're "doing a bad thing" by putting key words in your resume. This is like saying because you know how a computer works and you're using it to your advantage is a bad thing. I know how to write code in many programming languages but that's not fair to the person who doesn't know how to program because we're not on equal footing anymore. It's not fair that I went to university and learned to better myself because my competitor applying for the job only has a high school degree and doesn't know what I know. The world isn't fair and if you don't have a job maybe it's time you break some "rules" or try to figure out how the world really works. When you apply to jobs is there any thing on their website that clearly states no white text please?

I saw a comment stating it's "young people's" fault for having this process automated. Well that's where you're wrong. The people who implement these systems are rich CEOs of companies who want to use the smallest team of individuals for the maximum yield/profit.

Barbra, while I commend you for writing about a topic that's not widely discussed I have a feeling you're either taking these poor saps for a ride (trolling) or have a hidden agenda.

White text works, if you don't want to use it because of pride that's your personal decision. Myself and my wife have had much more opportunities and better quality of life because of these "proud" people. I thank you for not taking every advantage to have higher paying jobs so that I may have them instead. When you cry yourself to sleep because of lower income / less opportunities picture me lighting a cigar with a $100 bill laughing at you and your "pride". Keep complaining about your government too, yea it's all their fault you're a complete failure. LOL.

November 15 2012 at 3:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mtn Biker

To Gary the Printer on the skirt simile - what a GOOD one! I hope you don't mind if I work it into any resume' conversation. : )

June 29 2010 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I used to have a 5 page Resume. I was forced to cut it down to 2.5 pages. So I put subsets in the white font at the end of the resume. That resume made the pilgrimage to some super database where, I received tons of automated email everyday (still do). These days, the recruiters do not filter the resumes and broadcast their needs to the whole world. It is you who need to filter their requirements and reply. So use the white fonts such that you show the set of qualifications you are good at in regular color but use white fonts to code the subsets such that the company spider will catch you. Otherwise you lose.

June 16 2010 at 8:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey Mike and all others...

When a company tell you to apply on-line don't waist your or their time.

I have seen fax machines set up for e-mail receiving and the printer drops the resume into the Black file just below the output tray (trash can) at the State department in Washington, D.C..

Next time you deliver your resume to a company, give the GATEKEEPER a sealed candy product to say Hello..

They will remember.

June 08 2010 at 2:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rio Joanz

The only way for average Joes and Janes to get a job is to get down on their knees and pray because having a perfect resume is not enough; dressing impeccably for the interview is not enough; having a stellar background is not enough. The competition is super crazy, unhealthy and unrealistic.

June 08 2010 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I keep reading the posts and I can tell
that most of them are crying in their milk.

If you want a job get off your ass
and deliver your resume in person.

Looks like most of the people posting wants a job in BIG business but you need a history of work to enter the work force.

I personally interview every person that wants to give me a resume for review. If they have the time to come to me then I have the time to see them,

Any good owner/manager will, I don't want to say that he/she got away because of my lack of time.

June 08 2010 at 12:53 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Gary's comment

Hey Gary - good comment but, every employer that I have visited (at least 100) tells me to apply on-line or they don't have any open positions available.

June 08 2010 at 1:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gary I tried that as well. All employers told me to apply online and would not take my resume that I brought along.

June 13 2010 at 8:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
David Leahy

Mary Kay...If the law said one could not vote until age 25,
then the snot nosed kids, living at home. would not have voted
that idiot into office..Maybe voters should be made to take a
IQ test to get a voting permit. Every voter should have a
picture ID with a voter ID number. And immigrants cannot
vote for 10 years Plus no automatic citzenship to children
born here immediately after Mothr arrives. No other Country
in the World is as stupd as we are.

June 08 2010 at 12:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Hey, Alicia,

I think you were reading the ads because anyone advertising "working from home" is out to get your money. It's not REAL! Please don't ever fall for that.

June 08 2010 at 12:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I haven't thought of using white font before. I know that it is used in many advertisers websites to get the search engines to display at the head of the line.. never heard of on resume's before. Actually, I wouldn't see it as cheating if you are using synonyms from your actual resume'. For example, the search program might be searching for the word- "reliable". But I might use the words-- I am one "you can count on" in any situation. I AM who they are looking for--but since I didn't use their EXACT words in my resume, my resume would be "computer" rejected. If I wrote it again using "reliable", it would be redundant. It don't believe it deceptive if you use words that actually describe who you are. To me, if they are using a computer to sort through resume's it would be fair to make sure that my resume has every word that describes myself so that the computer doesn't mistakenly "reject" me. I rather a human decide if I am the perfect candidate. And everyone has heard of getting their foot in the door is the first step. This is no worse than having a friend (who probably has no idea that you are a good candidate) recommend you for an interview. My friend would be the computer.

June 08 2010 at 12:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply


Being a printer for over 40 years let me give you the secret to a great resume...KISS

A resume should be like a woman's skirt...
Short enough to arouse interest but ...
long enough to cover the subject

No more to be said but fonts that are e-z to read and 10 or 12 point is ok and DON'T YELL IN THE TYPE FACE (LIKE THIS).

June 08 2010 at 12:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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