How to optimize your CV for Applicant Tracking Systems

Optimize CV for ATS

An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) is a piece of software that automates many of the tasks related to a firm’s recruiting process, from receiving applications to hiring successful candidates.

They’re most popular among professional services firms that receive high volumes of applications, the ATS is a valuable time saver. It’s the first stop for all incoming CVs as it reviews, ranks and filters out unsuitable applications.

All of which means that your CV needs to meet certain requirements before a hiring manager even sets eyes on it – which is concerning when you think that up to 75% of CVs are rejected by an ATS.

Here’s how to optimize your CV for ATS before you send in your next job application:

  1. Use keywords: Recruiters and hiring managers set up keywords to help the ATS filter through CVs. A good way to make sure your CV contains the right keywords, is to read through the job description carefully and mirror its language. You should also make sure to use industry terms where relevant.
  2. Save the creativity for later: Fancy designs, and offbeat language won’t impress the machine. An ATS probably won’t be able to interpret funky job titles like ‘brand warrior’ – rather keep things simple and use ‘average’ job titles.
  3. Watch your formatting: Most ATS algorithms won’t read your CV if it includes graphics or symbols, lots of different fonts, tables and photographs. And when it comes to font, it looks like Calibri or a similar Sans Serif font is best.
  4. List your skills and experience: Don’t miss the opportunity to let your experience speak for itself. Make sure you have clearly listed all relevant experience, especially if it was requested in the job description. Use round bullet points to play it safe.
  5. Stick to Word: While newer ATSs can read PDFs, you’re better off saving your CV as a Word document – this way you know that the system can scan it for your keywords.

The ATS is your friend

Like anything that filters good from bad, an ATS provides you with the opportunity to differentiate your CV. With a few simple hacks, you can optimize your CV for an ATS, and you might find that these tools can be help you almost as much as well as they help the firms you’re applying to.

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