ats-friendly cv

How to Optimize Your CV for Applicant Tracking System

A few years ago, if someone had told us that a computer program would be the one deciding whether we get a job or not, we’d have had a good laugh. But guess what? That’s the reality we’re living in today. These days, having a good resume isn’t enough; it also needs to impress the Applicant Tracking System, or ATS for short.

Let’s face it; creating a resume can be a pretty dull task, and making it ATS-friendly can be even trickier. So, if you’re wondering how to beat this computer-based hiring gatekeeper, you’re in the right place. Here, we’ll share some tested tips for crafting CVs that the ATS will actually like.

But First, Let’s Learn A Bit More About ATS

An ATS is like a digital assistant for recruiters. It scans and saves CVs in a computerized library, and recruiters can search them using specific words. This helps them quickly pick out the suitable candidates.

If you’re wondering what the point of this is, you should know that a job opening gets 250 applications on average. That’s a lot to go through! So, using an ATS is a smart move for recruiters.

But here’s the catch: if an ideal candidate sends in a CV that’s not set up for the ATS, it’s like they’re invisible to the recruiter. Their perfect match could be right there, but they’d never find out. Hence, having an ATS-friendly resume is incredibly important if you want to land that job!

Get Ready To Beat The Applicant Tracking System With These 8 Helpful Hacks For Creating An ATS-Friendly Resume

Incorporate The Relevant Keywords

Think of an applicant tracking system (ATS) like how you’d use search engine optimization (SEO) for a website. It’s all about keywords. When you send your resume, the ATS reads it and stores it in a giant database. Then, recruiters can search that database using keywords like skills, qualifications, or job titles to find the right candidates.

So, here’s the trick to make it work: you need to have the right keywords in your CV. But where do you find those keywords? It’s easy. Start with the job posting. Most of the time, the job ad will mention the skills and qualifications the recruiter wants. Your job is to include those exact keywords in your CV. For instance, if they want someone with ‘project management’ skills, and you have that experience, be sure to have ‘project management’ in your CV.

Don’t Submit Your Resume In A PDF File

Applicant tracking systems (ATS) don’t always play nice with PDF files when it comes to resumes. PDFs are excellent for keeping your resume’s style and layout intact, but not all ATS software can handle them.

If you’re specifically told to send your resume in PDF format, definitely do that. However, if they don’t mention PDF compatibility, it’s a safer bet to submit your resume as a Word document (.doc or .docx) or plain text. This ensures your resume won’t run into any formatting problems along the way.

If you asked an online CV writing service to craft your resume, make sure to ask them for a .docx version. Converting a .docx file into a PDF is a breeze, but going the other way around can sometimes be a real headache!

Make Sure To Humanize It Too

Remember, when you’re crafting your resume, it’s not just the ATS that will give it a read. After the ATS does its thing, a human recruiter will take a look and decide if you’re a good fit for the job. So, while including ATS keywords is crucial, keeping your CV clear, truthful, and honest is equally important. So, don’t go overboard by cramming the document with keywords. Be genuine about your skills and experience.

Include Basic Headings Only

As mentioned above, the ATS sorts your CV by looking for important keywords and organizing them into specific categories. So, if you get too creative by changing standard headings, like renaming ‘Personal Statement’ to ‘About Me,’ there’s a good chance the ATS won’t recognize the new heading.

To play it safe, stick to the standard resume headings like Personal Statement, Work Experience, Skills, Education, and so on. This ensures your CV gets properly categorized and doesn’t get lost in translation when it goes through the Applicant Tracking System.

Steer Clear Of Acronyms And Abbreviations

When it comes to acronyms, an ATS can handle some, like SEO (search engine optimization), but it might stumble with others. To keep things clear for the ATS, you should write out the acronym in full, followed by the abbreviation in brackets.

And just so you know, even the best Dubai cover letter writers are not aware of this trick, so make sure to convey this instruction in advance! Abbreviations, on the other hand, are best avoided altogether. Both ATS and human recruiters can easily misinterpret them, so it’s safer to use the full terms instead.

Avoid Fluff

When it comes to your CV, it’s natural to want to showcase all your outstanding qualities, like your eagerness to learn, your positive attitude, and your strong work ethic. However, it’s important to know that recruiters typically don’t search for these terms. So, you can skip mentioning them. Focus on actionable skills and qualifications instead. These are the terms that will genuinely help you stand out to both ATS and human eyes.

Tone Down The Creativity

When it comes to making a resume that grabs attention, simplicity can be a powerful tool. A clean, simple design is not only easier for the ATS to process but also quicker for recruiters to scan. In contrast, CVs that are overly cluttered or have a unique format can be confusing and frustrating for the people who are reviewing them.

Don’t Forget To Proofread

Above all, don’t overlook the importance of proofreading your resume. While spell check can be helpful, it won’t catch everything, especially if you use a word correctly but misspell it (like ‘their’ versus ‘there’).

What’s even worse, if ATS spots spelling mistakes, it might decide that your CV doesn’t meet the mark to move forward. And even if ATS shortlists your resume, a human hiring manager will likely reject it if it has numerous spelling or grammatical errors. Instead of solely relying on spell check, consider having a friend or family member review your CV!

Key Takeaway

Many hiring managers still prefer to review every application that enters their Applicant Tracking System personally. However, they often spend just about six seconds glancing at your past achievements, job titles, and previous employers to decide if you’re worth a shot. Guess what that means? Your resume should clearly and concisely mention your key skills and qualifications!

While it’s important for your resume to be ATS-friendly, it’s equally important not to come across as trying to “game” the system with a resume designed solely for ATS optimization. Instead, concentrate on presenting your best self on your CV. After all, isn’t your ultimate goal to catch the employer’s eye? That’s what really matters!