How to get your CV through applicant tracking systems

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Many CVs are filtered out by ATS systems. Neville Rose, director at CV Writers, explains how to minimise the chance of this happening to you.

ATS career dilemma

The world of job applications is becoming increasingly automated. A key role in this is the development of applicant tracking systems (ATS). These are used by job boards and employers to automate the initial sifting of CVs against a job description. By comparing key words and phrases and ranking them, it is estimated that 70% of CVs are filtered out by ATS systems. However, there is no industry standard algorithm ATS systems use – so there is no magic wand in waving your CV through.

Tailor your CV for every application

It is important to individually focus your CV for every job you apply for. Read the job description and person specification carefully. This contains the key words and phrases that ATS systems will use in analysing and assessing CVs so try to mirror the language used and assimilate your CV accordingly. Don’t use one generic CV for every application as every job varies in its requirements and how the job description is written.

Optimise your CV with key words and phrases

The most important key phrase is the job title. So, if you can, change the job title in your CV to the one used in the job specification. You should also use the target job title in your ‘professional profile’ at the beginning to position yourself in line with that role right at the front of your CV. Look carefully at what technical skills and qualifications are needed and ensure these are included and any other key phrases that stand out.  

Avoid overly designed CV templates

ATS systems cannot read diagrams, pictures or infographics. So, don’t use CV templates (however pretty they look) that are reliant on design elements. Keep all the information as text and don’t use tables either as information within these may not be read correctly. Keep the CV template clean and clutter free. Use industry standard headings so the ATS systems can match the information accordingly.

Your CV will still be read by a human

Following the information above, and all the usual advice about including achievements and facts and figures in your CV, is still of the utmost importance. Your CV – and ultimately any decision on calling you to interview – will still be made by a person. Therefore, make sure your CV looks professional and is free from any typos or errors and that the formatting is consistent throughout.  

This article is written by Neville Rose, director of CV Writers. CV Writers provide a range of CV writing services including a free CV review.

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