In the past, hiring managers, consultants and market influencers were the main gatekeepers to new roles. Now, an additional level has been added in the form of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS). An ATS scans your CV and ranks its suitability for a position. The better your score, the higher your chances are of receiving an introductory phone call.
In short, an ATS works like a specialised search engine. Therefore, we recommend making your CV ‘ATS friendly’ – similar to how people optimise web content to make it rank higher on Google (SEO). Use the following steps to make sure your CV doesn’t get overlooked when being scanned:
1) Use keywords - Take a good look at the keywords used in job descriptions. You can then use similar terms in your CV (I.e. In the descriptions of your roles and responsibilities). However, in the same way that Google can detect when unnecessarily keywords are being used, don’t overdo it!
2) Know your skills – When mentioning your skills, you should focus on tangible outcomes. Think of how a consultant uses an ATS. If they’re searching for a Payroll Assistant, they’ll be looking for specific skills like excel and database management. Try not to use more generic terms like ‘team player’ or ‘outgoing’ – you can mention these but focus on more measurable and quantitative skills.
3) Qualifications – Always mention qualifications that are relevant to the role. If you have industry-specific qualifications like an ACCA (Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) be sure to include both the acronym and the full wording. This addition can make all the difference.
4) CV layout – It’s essential to know what an ATS does and doesn’t read. An ATS won’t read graphics or symbols of any kind (apart from basic ones like bullet points). Photos won’t be picked up and don’t use numerous font sizes either.
5) Know your strategy – The most successful applicants are aware of the similarity between traditional CV applications and LinkedIn. Your CV and LinkedIn profile should use similar keywords. Consistency is key. Many consultants will review your Linked profile, so it often performs as a supporting tool. You should include a link to your profile on your CV in the form of a custom URL (hyperlink).
If you follow these steps, your chances of landing that dream job are much higher. The aim is to make sure that technology does not stand between you and your career prospects. Plus, it’s not about trying to trick the algorithm… It’s about clear, focussed and consistent content.