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How to get your CV past ATS system robots

Many CVs/applications are eliminated before they are viewed by human eyes

Whilst no doubt being highly popular amongst recruiters and HR professionals due to their ability to do the donkey work, applicant tracking systems (ATSs) and specialist AI-based selection software can make getting your CV in front of a recruiting manager much trickier than it used to be.

The use of this technology means that many CVs/applications are eliminated before they are viewed by human eyes. The systems scan incoming CVs for specific keywords and phrases, automatically assigning them a score for relevance and passing on only the best matches for human review.

Below are four key pieces of advice that can help to get your CV past the ATS and application bots.

1. Format – keep it simple

When it comes to ATSs, simplicity and following traditional rules work best; therefore, any extra touches that you may have added to your CV, such as logos, pictures, symbols and shading, should be removed. You should also use a standard font, such as Arial, Times New Roman or Courier, as some systems are unable to read fancy fonts and may reject your CV.

In terms of content, you should only use the standard sub-headings, such as qualifications, experience, education and skills.

Finally, you should send your CV in Word or Rich Text Format as opposed to a PDF. These formats are easier for the ATS to scan.

2. Remove the career objective section

These introductory sections are just not necessary – if you did not want to work in the industry/role, you would not be submitting an application in the first place; furthermore, it is more about how the company needs you and your skills than how you want to apply them. You could replace this section with a bullet-pointed qualifications summary or a concise summary of your main achievements, key skills and important experiences.

3. Use the right keywords

ATS software will look for key phrases and words related to the specific role. Different professions will have certain jargon, commonly-used software, responsibilities, skills and certification/qualifications associated with them.

To optimise your CV, include phrases and skills that are contained within the job description. These are highly likely to be the same as the ones the hiring manager has programmed the ATS to recognise.

If you are listing titles, certifications or organisations, you should use the acronym and the spelt-out form so that it is recognised regardless of which version the ATS has been programmed to search for.

4. Check your spelling/grammar using a spell checker

Spelling mistakes can confuse an ATS and may cause it to reject your CV because it can’t understand what you have written. Run your spell checker program at least twice, read your document out loud so that you can identify anything that sounds odd, and ask someone else to proofread it for you before hitting the submit button.


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