Recruiter Nightmares: The Copy and Paste Resume

Posted by Dawn Boyer

“I was told to copy the job description online to ensure key words were in my resume,” is something I often hear from resume clients. Job seekers copy and paste ‘everything’ from the online announcement, but can’t understand why they are ignored. Copying and pasting a job description won’t help.

When recruiters see ‘copy and paste’ resumes, they recognize and reject the resume. Recruiters want to read applicant job accomplishments, task capabilities, and achievements written uniquely to a job seeker’s specific background, skills, and experience.

Cleared job seekers can analyze the important words from an open position announcement by scrutinizing the general and specific requirements sections. Ignore the benefits and company description. Target the ‘must have’ qualifications for clues to key words recruiters are seeking.

For example, the job requisition “Budget Analyst” (posted on notes the following in the generalized job description section:

  • Assist in work to be accomplished; communicate assignments, problems to be solved, issues, and deadlines.

“Assist in work” could equate to a team member assigned specific workload assignments to research, analyze, identify, and implement solutions to problems, methods, and technical issues.

  • Coach team in selection and application of appropriate problem-solving methods and techniques; resolve employees complaints.

“Resolve complaints” could equate to ‘being a people person’ (please don’t use that cliché’ term!) able to provide diplomatic work-place resolutions fair to all parties.

  • Maintain program and administrative reference materials, project files / relevant documents; prepare reports; maintain records of accomplishments / administrative information.

“Maintain program and administrative reference materials” could equate to a document-database librarian or database maintenance tech with software skills, and alphabetical- and numeric-filing capabilities, and ability to recognize document ‘classes.’

“Prepare reports and maintain records” of work accomplishments equates to filing documents in a manual or in digital format (e.g., create electronic files on a server or SharePoint website in a logical, organized manner).

  • Represent the team for the purpose of obtaining resources; securing needed information or decisions from the supervisor on major work problems / issues.
  • Represent team findings and recommendations in meetings; deal with issues that have an impact on the team’s objectives, work products and/or tasks.

“Represent the team” can be interpreted as presenting reports on specific topics to a group.

  • Research a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods to identify, assess, analyze and improve team effectiveness, efficiency, and work products.

“Research qualitative and quantitative” equates to an ability to ask questions, perform statistical analysis, and possibly conduct Lean Six Sigma studies or process improvements to work tasking, production (lowered man-hours), recommending automation processes for work-task processing, and improving customer service timing and services.

What is missing in this ‘general’ job description? Anything related to financials, accounts receivables or accounts payables, budget oversight, monetary or financial analysis.

Now review the ‘must-have’ job description details:

  • “Knowledge of budget concepts, process, financial coding structure and the interrelationships among appropriations; interpret budgetary aspects of laws, regulations, policies, procedures and provide guidance; interpret / apply budget instructions, administrative memoranda, and regulatory guidelines from procedural, technical standpoint; analyze and relate financial data to work plans, business plans, Strategic Plans, and organizational accomplishments.”

This description notes specific key words the job applicant must ensure in describing past and current experience in their resume to catch the eye of the recruiter. Target the mandated job skill requirements and write about tasks accomplished related directly to that experience using the key words.

“Knowledge of budget concepts, process, financial coding structure and the interrelationships among appropriations” means describe the accounting system (name brand software) and the line item coding, accounts receivables / accounts payable, budget appropriations (funding) and funding designations (to / from business units) and obtaining approvals for expenditures.

The section noting: “interpret budgetary aspects of laws, regulations, policies, procedures, and provide guidance” means detailing knowledge of Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP), and experience as a Subject Matter Expert (SME) on Internal Revenue Service (IRS) law, regulatory compliance (including Sarbanes-Oxley; SOX), and internal company policies and procedures related to taxes, budgeting, finances, and accounting to advise peers and management.

The ability to “analyze and relate financial data to work plans, business plans, Strategic Plans…” means data research, analysis, auditing, and compiling reports to share in group presentations.

The remainder of the job description is more ‘generic’ capabilities.

  • “Communicate orally and in writing; make presentations clearly; manage time, balance priorities, and work under tight timeframes and conditions; use of computer for word processing, spreadsheets, graphics, and communications programs; use of analytical and problem-solving techniques; use of automated financial systems.”

This section can easily be interpreted as strong work capabilities that are discussed in the same bullets explaining specific skill requirements.

Copying and pasting the original job description won’t help security-cleared job seekers. Describe ‘how’ a specific task or responsibility matches the job description’s mandatory experience requirements to showcase an ability to interpret, analyze, and write to satisfy the recruiter’s need for documented capabilities. Recruiters can read between the lines for skills, experience, and education via those key words describing the experience.

Dawn Boyer, Ph.D., owner of D. Boyer Consulting – provides resume writing and editing, publishing, and print-on-demand consulting. Reach her at: [email protected] or visit her website at

This entry was posted on Thursday, August 08, 2019 4:34 pm

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