Only According to TopCV, 75% of CVs don’t even get seen by human eyes. Imagine if you’ve painstakingly tailored your CV to that job, spent hours perfecting each section so it reads as if you were born to do that job… and then it never even makes it in front of a human! And you’re left wondering what you did wrong, why you never received the call for an interview or even a phone screening…
According to TopCV’s research, three in four our job applicants aren’t aware of the specialised recruitment software that stands between their perfectly crafted CV and the eyes of a human recruiters.
Applicant tracking system (ATS) is designed to help do their job more efficiently and sift through the thousands of CVs that come across their desk. This means that the software will present to the recruiter a smaller pile of what it classes as ‘qualified’ candidates for the role, while discarding those it considers to be least viable. In many cases, those CVs that are discarded are now from candidates who can’t do the role, in fact they might be even better than the majority put forward, but their CV hasn’t been optimised for the software and therefore never even had a chance… Preptel shared the fact that a worrying 75% of CVs get discarded by the software before the recruiter even sees them.
So with the ATS in mind, it’s time to revisit how you write your CV and ensure you overcome this first hurdle in order to get your CV into that top 25% and give yourself the chance you deserve; to be assessed for the role by a human being! Here’s three crucial tips to beat the CV-scanning bots:
The ATS will first scan your CV for keywords that relate to the role it has been tasked with matching you to. Now keywords aren’t to be confused with ‘buzzwords’, such as ‘proactive’ or ‘specialised’, as these don’t relate to a particular skill or knowledge base. The software is looking for keywords relating to actual skills that might match the job description, for example ‘Microsoft Excel proficient’ or ‘Adobe Photoshop’, or even ‘excellent communication’ or ‘people management’.
It’s a good idea to look at not just one, but several job listings for the role you are interested in, and gather commonly occurring keywords from it that you can then pepper into your own CV. Check what they want in the Key Skills and Required Experience sections, and ensure you word your own experience and skills using the same occurring language.
It’s important to still remember that you are aiming to beat the bots and get your CV in front of human eyes. While you do need to optimise with keywords and ensure the software picks your CV out, you also don’t want to go too heavy on them and ruin the flow of your CV. Make sure you aren’t shoehorning them in; simply change some of the words you would have used to match the language the job descriptions use to describe things, while making sure it all still reads normally to a human.
While you may think a fancy format will get you noticed by a recruiter, in the age of ATS none of that matters if you don’t make it through the software’s checks. Keep it simple and easy to follow; use a clean design with clear sections and no unusual images, fonts or embedded attachments. You need the ATS to be able to crawl all the information on there, and they will scan over images and attachments, missing vital information that could be the difference between reaching the next stage and not.
One key consideration is the file format. Microsoft Word is the optimum for ATS; it may not be able to crawl a PDF, Open Office or other format of file and will just discard any it can’t process!
Another key consideration is headers and footers; ATS software can’t read information in these sections so it’s vital that you avoid putting anything important in there such as contact details as it won’t be able to store the information.
A good way to test how an ATS will see your CV is to save the document as a plain text file, and then view how it looks. If there are any misformatted sections or characters that don’t convert, then you’ll need to change these as the ATS won’t be able to process them.
Some recruiters used advanced ATS that can even check a candidate’s social media channels and search the web for any mentions of the person they’re vetting! Scary, right? Just in case your recruiter is using this software, it’s best to set all your social media privacy settings to maximum, meaning the bots will only be able to see what is shared with ‘public’ (i.e. people who aren’t connected with you already).
It’s also a good idea to avoid having any embarrassing or controversial content on there, particularly in the form of comments or posts on other people’s pages who might not have the same privacy settings as you. If you’re unsure if something is potentially controversial or embarrassing, best to just take it down to be safe.