Have you ever applied for a job online and either not received a response, or got a generic email saying, “we’re sorry, but you do not match our criteria…”?
The chances are, this is a reply generated by an ATS (Applicant Tracking System) and your CV may not have been read by an actual person.
ATS systems are designed with time saving in mind; they scan your CV, pick out key information about you, your experience and skills and make sure you match the job criteria set by the employer. If so, you might be invited to interview, if not your CV could be discarded.
Here are some top tips to help you create an ATS friendly CV that will help you to secure interviews:
Your CV needs to pass through the system and features like graphics and text boxes tend to move around the document, causing confusion and leading to a rejection.
Instead of a text box, try using a table, make sure your document is properly aligned and justified and does not contain columns.
It is also essential that your name and contact details are at the top of your CV to give it the best chance of picking up the right information.
2. Key skills
Each job description will list a set of key criteria they need applicants to possess, so to increase your chance of success, make sure each of these come through strongly in your CV.
Consider creating a ‘Key Skills’ section at the top of your CV and include important skills within your role descriptions.
3. Dates and job titles
This may sound obvious, but the ATS will use these details to create a summary of your career, so it needs to be accurate. To make it easy to read, include the months and years you were in each role and your job title.
If you have a 20-year career, with 15 years of management experience, you want the system to tell employers of your success, not skim over it.
Adding references is not recommended for lots of reasons, however it is especially important for a CV that will be used to apply for jobs online.
If you have referee contact details on your CV, there is every chance that the system may mistake these details for your own and a potential employer may end up calling your current employer (if they are a referee) to invite them to interview, which could get awkward.
5. Tailor your CV to each role
As each role is slightly different, each ATS will be set to look for slightly different things. The best way to make sure it recognises your suitability is to look through your CV and make sure it shows each skill and qualification required in the job description.
If you have chosen to include a ‘Key Skills’ section, it’s easy to change these in accordance to a job description.
One final note – ATS systems tend to prefer documents submitted in a Microsoft Word or .docx format, so try to use this where possible, there are converters online if you currently have a different document type.
CV Knowhow are totaljobs’ exclusive partner for CV writing advice and reviews. Get your CV rewritten by CV Knowhow.
Learn more about ATS and ‘robotic recruiting’
The AI is hiring: Winning tips for woo-ing the Robot Recruiters: The next time you go for a job, it may be a machine waiting for you.
The benefits of ATS: How applicant tracking systems help the recruitment process.