Is your CV a ‘True Match’ for an Applicant Tracking System?


applicant trackingThere are interesting parallels between job searching and dating. In both situations you are communicating with people you do not know, demonstrating why you are the best one for the job, trying to make strong lasting first impressions, showing that you are different from the competition and, like dating, along the way you may receive a string of rejections. Essentially, in both instances you are trying to sell what you have to offer and demonstrating that you a perfect match.

Whether its dating or job searching, technology also plays a major influence in assessing compatibility. Technology has revolutionised the dating world and similarly the landscape of job searching now relies heavily on compatibility technology and recruitment software.

This article explores some key considerations including 6 key tips to make sure you tick the compatibility checklist, ensuring the hiring manager swipes right for your CV!

What is an ATS?

An ATS is a type of software that handles the recruitment process within organisations by sourcing thousands of CVs and applications to determine which applicants match up to the job roles. The ATS also allows the organisation to collect and store candidate and job-related data, tracking and monitoring candidates through all stages of the hiring process.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are used extensively by companies to make it easier to manage the recruitment and candidate selection process. Due to the saturation of applicants for most roles, it is highly likely that a CV will be analysed by a robot before a human has looked at it.  Creating a CV that is not only attractive to the human eye but compatible with applicant tracking systems, is a vital tool in a competitive job market.

What to look out for

In some cases, you can identify if the company is using a ATS by looking at the Careers/Vacancies page on the company’s website. When you click into ‘apply’ you should see the destination URL appear. Keep an eye out for names such as Taleo, brassring, JobVite iCIMS, BambooHR. If an ATS is being used by the organisation, the software will be branded in the URL.

Some Applicant Tracking Systems will automatically rank your CV in line with the job you have applied for. This makes it easier for hiring managers to generate shortlists. The ranking is based on how compatible you are with the advertised job description. Candidates who use the same keywords, job titles and match core skills are more likely to be included in the hiring managers shortlist. When you apply for a job, the content is extracted and uploaded onto the ATS software. This means the file needs to be compatible and easy to read and extract.

Here are 6 tips to ensure you are optimising your CV for Applicant Tracking Systems!

  • Format & File - Use a simple format and a word or text file rather than a PDF, try and keep the CV on 2 A4 pages.
  • Font – Use font Size 11 or 12 and stick with a basic style such as Calibri or Arial, avoiding colour, mixing fonts and WordArt.
  • Tailoring & Keyword Optimisation – An ATS searches for the keywords listed in the job description. Scan the job description and make the relevant keywords more prominent, include industry related keywords and use both long term and acronym versions of industry jargon/terminology.
  • Visuals – Most ATS’ fail to extract information that is in text boxes, headers, images. Don’t use tables, columns as they can cause errors when uploading. This includes graphics or images, the simpler the better!
  • Sections & Headings - The ATS extracts information under the relevant headings make sure you structure the CV in sections and use standard headings in bold text including Profile, Key Skills OR Achievements, Career History, Education, References. Make sure you have a good balance between white space and text. Use simple bullet points rather than paragraphs so the ATS can interpret and recognise key responsibilities.
  • Personal Information - Avoid including your date of birth, sexuality, religion, and marital status.

Renovo is the UK’s leading outplacement and career transition specialist. We work with both organisations and individuals to support all their career transition requirements. If you would like to understand how Renovo can help you please call 0800 612 2011 or email

Recently published
Goal Setting using the Grow Model

Whether you are changing careers, exploring self-employment or wanting to […]

Read More
Timing Outplacement Effectively

As the old saying goes; “Timing is everything” and that’s […]

Read More
How to use summer networking to maximise career opportunities

With the summer holidays approaching, it's commonly believed that the […]

Read More
2024 © All Rights Reserved | Renovo Employment Group Ltd.