Career quandary: How can I get my CV through applicant tracking systems?

News by Neville Rose

Neville Rose, director at CV Writers, answers our reader's career dilemma on how to get their CV through applicant tracking systems.

Question: “What do I need to do to make sure my CV does not get filtered out of applicant tracking systems as I am not getting any responses from my CV?”

Neville Rose says...

It is believed that 70 percent of all CVs are screened out by applicant tracking systems (ATS systems) used by job boards and employers as part of their automated recruitment processes. They work primarily by parsing the information on your CV against a job specification entered by the employer. There are two pieces of advice to help prevent your CV falling at this first hurdle.

Firstly, you should target your CV for every job you apply for. Every role will have different job descriptions and responsibilities, so aligning your CV to individual employer requirements will give your CV much more opportunity to succeed. The scattergun approach of uploading a generic CV and then crossing your fingers and hoping for the best is not the best method in getting a response.

Click here for a free CV review

The other thing to do is to optimise your CV with keywords and get it to work with the technology. ATS systems work mainly through keyword repetition and recognition in much the same way Google ranks web pages against certain search terms. Whilst it is important not to stuff your CV with keywords – which can confuse the system – make sure you use key terms and phrases two or three times within the CV in areas like job titles and the professional profile.

The CV template should also avoid using tables or pictures which may not be understood by ATS systems. Many people use pictures, diagrams and tables in their CV and whilst these may look visually appealing, they will not be deciphered by ATS systems and therefore potentially valuable information could be lost. Better to stick to a plain Word format with clearly labelled headings and classic CV structure.

If you follow all the usual best practice guidelines on writing a CV, your CV should pass through ATS systems without any bother. It's important of course to remember that your CV will still be read by a human who will most likely be making the final decision on calling you to interview, so focusing on your achievements will always be a very important part of creating a compelling CV.

CV Writers provide a variety of CV writing services including cover letters and LinkedIn profiles. They also provide a Free CV review.

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