How can I ensure my CV gets through applicant tracking systems?

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

Question: “I am not getting any responses from my CV and am worried it may be being penalised by applicant tracking systems. How can I adapt my CV to ensure it is not filtered out?”

Neville Rose says...

There may be many reasons your CV is not getting responses and not being applicant tracking system (ATS) friendly could be just one of them. Anything from lack of concrete achievements to spelling mistakes and typos can see a CV being rejected. However, let’s assume that everything else about the CV is fine and isolate the cause to automated recruitment systems.

ATS systems are used by job boards and recruiters as a way of screening CVs against specific job specifications.  It is estimated that 70% of all CVs are filtered out by ATS systems. The way they work is by comparing the information in a CV against the job description and selecting CVs with the closest fit. There are two important pieces of advice for ensuring your CV makes it through the system successfully.

The main thing to do is to optimise your CV with relevant keywords allied to the jobs you are targeting. So, if you are looking for ‘producer’ jobs then make sure this appears in your professional profile, job titles and other prominent areas of the CV. It is important not to ‘stuff’ your CV with keywords and to include them naturally. Job titles are by far the most important keywords to focus on.

It is also important to target your CV for each individual job you apply for. Every job specification will be different and companies sometimes use different terms to describe the same thing. Read the job and person specification closely for each role you apply for, identify the keywords and adjust your CV. This will give you a much greater chance of getting your CV through ATS systems than simply using one generic version of your CV for all applications.

Ideally you should use a CV template that does not include any tables, graphics or important information within design features. Make sure your headings are clearly and accurately labelled. ATS systems cannot read graphical information or tables. It is also important to remember your CV will be read by a human too before any decision about calling you to interview will be made, so make sure your CV looks professional, contains examples of achievements and is, of course, error free.

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


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