Optimising your CV for Applicant Tracking Systems

01/18/2024

applicant tracking systems

As with much of business and working life, contemporary job searching relies heavily on technology. Software that assists and supports recruitment is now commonplace. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), are used extensively by companies to make it easier to manage the recruitment and candidate selection process.

This article explores some key considerations including 6 key tips to make sure you tick the compatibility checklist, ensuring your CV is effectively optimised for Applicant Tracking Systems.

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 ATS, is a vital tool in a competitive job market.

How does an ATS work?

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 manager’s 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.

6 tips for success

If you are job seeking right now, here are 6 tips to ensure you are optimising your CV for Applicant Tracking Systems:

1. Format & File - Use a simple format and a word or text file rather than a PDF, try and keep the CV on up to 3 A4 pages.

2. Font – Use font Size 11 or 12 and stick with a basic style such as Calibri or Arial, avoiding colour, mixing fonts and WordArt.

3. 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.

4. 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!

5. 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. 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.

6. Personal Information - Avoid including your date of birth, sexuality, religion, and marital status. Some applicant tracking systems will reject CVs which include personal information listed.

Renovo is one of the UK’s leading providers of outplacement and career transition support. 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 email info@renovo.co.uk

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