Get That Dream Job, With A Bit Of Text Injection

Getting a job has always been a tedious and annoying process, as for all the care that has been put into a CV or resume, it can be still headed for the round file at the whim of some corporate apparatchik. At various times there have also been dubious psychometric tests and other horrors to contend with, and now we have the specter of AI before us. We can be tossed aside simply because some AI model has rejected our CV, no human involved. If this has made you angry, perhaps it’s time to look at [Kai Greshake]’s work. He’s fighting back, by injecting a PDF CV with extra text to fool the AI into seeing the perfect candidate, and even fooling AI-based summarizers.

Text injection into a PDF is a technique the same as used by the less salubrious end of the search engine marketing world, of placing text in a web page such that a human can’t read it but a machine can. The search engine marketeers put them in tiny white text or offset them far out of the viewport, and it seems the same is possible in a PDF. He’s put the injection in white and a tiny font, and interestingly, overlaid it several times.

Using the ChatGPT instance available in the Bing sidebar he’s then able to fool it into an affirmative replay to questions about whether he should be hired. But it’s not just ChatGPT he’s targeting, another use of AI in recruitment is via summarizing tools. By injecting a lot of text with phrases normally used in conclusion of a document, he’s able to make Quillbot talk about puppies. Fancy a go yourself? He’s put a summarizer online, in the link above.

So maybe the all-seeing AI isn’t as clever as we’ve been led to believe. Who’d have thought it!

28 thoughts on “Get That Dream Job, With A Bit Of Text Injection

  1. “The search engine marketeers put them in tiny white text or offset them far out of the viewport” This is way out of date and does not fool the bots any more, but probs still relevent in a CV. The big question for me would be ‘Why would I want this kind of job anyway?’

    The best tactic IMO is to try and get feedback from failed interviews where 1. I wanted the job and 2. I respected the interviewer. Last interview I had the feedback was very positive – most interesting CV ever and most relaxed and enjoyable interview ever ….. but I did not get the job.

    My CV reads like something out of Jules Vern with previous jobs such as music producer, rock star, chemical engineer, delivery driver with hobbies including free diving and bee keeping. Last entry: “Successfully created machine learning app to predict horse racing winners’.

    If they dont like my CV, they can f**k off cos I probably would not want their job anyway.

      1. Sure. So if you were to bombard it with stuff it cant process it will default to a human operator, just like those stupid web based chatbots. I guess you’d want to hide all this weird stuff in white text like the author suggested. It’s just that for me anyway my CV _IS_ the white stuff. The rest of it just makes me look boring.

      2. Food for thought. If AI’s are accepting / rejecting resumes based on some algorithim, why not have a counter AI making your resume in the first place? Let the machines war with each other instead of humans.

    1. “A laser guided bee cannon won’t work against a robot!”
      “It’s not for the robot. It’s for the guy controlling the robot”
      Paraphrased from a Malcom in the Middle forever ago.

  2. Not sure how many jobs are taking a resume document anymore, though. Many times you have to jump through hoops on an application form or site. It may offer to parse an uploaded resume, but it still just populates the form (often incompetently).

  3. No, just don’t. If you think having impostor syndrome in a job you’re qualified for is a bad, imagine what it’ll be like to start a job that you landed by cheating.

    Please try to understand why AI and automation is a good thing for the hiring process, both for you and the employers. Your potential employers are likely receiving mountains of applications, many of which are not serious about taking the jobs. Workers on unemployment are required to submit a minimum number of applications per week, regardless of how long it takes for employers to respond. And with the rise of generative AI tools, it’s easier than ever to generate spam applications. Detecting and removing the spam is paramount for hiring teams to be able to be effective.

    For the prospective employee, automating the hiring process will speed it up significantly, and opens the potential for employers to provide more feedback to applicants that don’t make the cut. And AI tools make it easier to create targeted skills assessments, rather than evaluating applicants based on whether they check the boxes in the job description.

    1. LOL hordes of unemployed gumming up hiring.
      In a worker shortage.

      Let’s talk about phantom job postings, where the employer has no intention of hiring anyone, but wants to gather some “market analysis”.

      Let’s talk about ghosting applicants and then whining when they don’t wait for your answer before going elsewhere.

      Let’s talk about recruiters spamming every LinkedIn profile when they have no pertinent job to offer, or even any idea of the person’s domain of expertise.

      I have no pity for recruiters. They made the process hell and now they should burn in it.

    2. I call BS, if worker on unemployment can generate fake applications with chatGPT and automate the submission process – you should hire them. Very few people want to cheat the unemployment benefits and have the skills to do so on a large scale.

      Have you checked how many legitimate applicants does the so called hiring automation reject? Amazon did a while ago and they had to scrap the automation and re-tool.

      If the person spends the time to craft a PDF like this they do want the job.

      My daughter got a rejection e-mail 30 minutes after submitting an application – there is no human that works that fast.

      Automatic rejections are just bad, so I welcome any tool that fights back.

      1. If you’re unqualified for a job then I don’t see why an employer wouldn’t proceed with a rejection. I will be the first to admit that the application process has its prejudices, but how do you propose that employers find a solution?

        Western cultures live in a system that can only understand and act upon one metric: profit. Your worth is measured by your ability to generate profits, and it is not uncommon to receive a rejection simply for not having the right certifications, degrees, or other superficial measures of competence.

        Unjust as it may be, you as an individual do not have the option to upset the status quo. Not even the “richest” man in the world, Elon Musk, with his massive overhaul of Twitter and emphasis on freeze peach, can upset the very system that props up him and his family.

        The whole system is toxic and broken. The sooner you come to terms with that, the sooner you can begin planning and participating the development of a a much-needed revamp of the global financial apparatus.

          1. It’s shocking how much more response I started getting once I listed every single stupid little sub-skill on my resume. Any recruiter even passingly familiar with my profession would know that all of them are contained within other “larger” skills I already had listed, but after gumming up my resume with a bunch of word salad I got far more bites. It’s advice I’d been hearing for years but had ignored because it felt a little vulgar.

            And this is just for the older, non-ai resume scraping bots. I believe 100% that doing this would benefit actual, qualified candidates. If my current feelers don’t work out I’ll give this a try, it (probably) can’t hurt.

    3. Yeah because there is no bias in the automation part ever. And all people can escape any blame (at least in theory) by outsourcing the responsibility to AI.

      Automated stuff is great if you are top 10 applicant. But what about bit different skillset but you are really motivated to learn something new?

    4. The cheating isn’t to get the job, the cheating is to fool the AI to get to the top of the stack. As the joke goes, the hiring manager starts by throwing away half the applications, because he “doesn’t like hiring unlucky people.” Cheating just guarantees you aren’t “unlucky”.

  4. Rendering pdfs to an image then doing an OCR to text on them should sanitise them well enough, the initial RIP has to be in a sandbox/VM that is discarded after each document. Don’t forget that this may already be standard practice in some places as PDFs have been a known attack vector for a very long time.

  5. Here’s a funny automated CV related story:

    I was bored one evening and just for the hell of it applied for job serving in McDonalds. Uploaded CV and within seconds was rejected by the web page chat bot for being too old. The chat bot was a bit unstable and I thought it might have made a mistake. I hit the ‘Apply’ button again and the bot immediately flagged up ‘too old’ again. I thought the system might be broken and hit apply about 20 or 30 times before giving up.

    2 weeks later I got a massive phone bill for about £120 so phoned up my network to find out why. Apparently I’d been texting some dodgy premium number in S.Korea in rapid sucession. The network kindly put £120 credit on my account.

    Some days later I worked out what had happened – I had an SMS auto-responder set up on my 4G router telling people that text messages would not get read. I had been scammed by McDonalds hiring department! (Or a fake website pretending to be McDonalds). Made me laugh anyway.

  6. The part that confuses me about this is, why is it being treated as a novel issue? Keyword seeking resume bots have been dev-nulling perfectly legitimate candidates since the day online job hunting was invented, merely for not using the exact phrasing the bot expects (or the job req itself is bunk, like expecting 20 years of Rust experience when it hasn’t even existed for that long).

    Getting your application in front of human eyes is 90% of the battle these days. If HR is gonna cheat and make it more difficult, it’s only fair to counter with your own “Cheat with Both Hands” card in response!

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