Mastering ATS: How to Create an ATS-Friendly CV

In today’s job market, a significant proportion of CVs are initially reviewed by computer software known as Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). These automated systems are designed to screen, sort, and rank CVs based on specific keywords and other predefined criteria. While ATS can save employers time, they can also present a challenge for job seekers. If your CV isn’t ATS-friendly, it might never reach a human recruiter. In this blog post, we’ll explore how you can create a CV that not only beats ATS but also impresses recruiters.

Understanding ATS

ATS software is used by employers to manage job applications efficiently. It scans CVs for keywords related to job descriptions and qualifications, aiming to find the best candidates. CVs that don’t meet the software’s requirements are filtered out, reducing the workload for human recruiters.

Tips for an ATS-Friendly CV

To improve your chances of passing the ATS screening, follow these tips:

1. Use Relevant Keywords

ATS systems scan for specific keywords. To find these, closely read the job description and make a list of the terms and phrases related to skills, experience, and qualifications. Incorporate these keywords into your CV, but ensure they fit naturally within the context of your experience and achievements.

2. Choose Standard Formatting

ATS software may struggle with complex formatting. To avoid confusion, use a simple layout with clear headings, bullet points, and consistent fonts. Avoid graphics, images, tables, and text boxes, as these can disrupt ATS parsing.

3. Choose a Standard CV Structure

Stick to traditional CV sections, such as contact information, professional summary/personal profile, skills, experience, and education. Place your name and contact information at the top, followed by a brief professional summary that includes key skills and qualifications. List your work experience in reverse chronological order, and clearly label each job with start and end dates.

4. Tailor Your CV for Each Role

A one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work with ATS. Tailor your CV to match the specific job requirements. This doesn’t mean you need a complete rewrite; rather, tweak key sections to align with the job description, focusing on the most relevant experience and skills.

5. Avoid Overly Technical Language

While it’s essential to include relevant keywords, avoid overly technical language or jargon that might not be recognised by ATS. Use industry-standard terms and avoid abbreviations or acronyms unless they are widely understood.

6. Emphasise Achievements and Metrics

When describing your work experience, focus on achievements and measurable outcomes. Numbers and statistics can add impact and help ATS understand your accomplishments. For example, instead of saying “managed a team,” you could say “led a team of 10, increasing productivity by 30%.”

7. Use Simple File Formats

ATS systems generally prefer standard file formats like Microsoft Word (.doc or .docx) or PDF. Check the job application instructions to see if there’s a preferred format and use that to avoid any parsing issues.

8. Proofread and Check for Errors

Spelling and grammatical errors can be detrimental, especially if ATS is looking for specific keywords. Use spell-check tools and ask a friend or colleague to review your CV for errors before sending it.

Final Thoughts

Creating an ATS-friendly CV doesn’t mean sacrificing creativity or personalisation. While it’s important to optimise your CV for ATS, remember that a real person will eventually read it. Aim for a balance between ATS optimisation and a clear, engaging presentation that showcases your unique skills and experience.

By following these tips, you’ll improve your chances of getting past the ATS and into the hands of a recruiter. If you would like to discuss the quality of your CV and its suitability for ATS, feel free to give someone at Ashendon Recruitment a call.

Good luck with your job search!

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