Optimising your CV for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)


laptop with blue backgroundAlthough the traditional method of reviewing and evaluating CVs still exists, companies have now shifted to utilising more sophisticated methods through advanced software. 90% of Fortune 500 companies now pre filter candidates through Applicant Tracking Systems. To maximise your chances of getting through to interview stage you need to ensure that your CV is optimised and ATS friendly.

What is an Applicant Tracking System?

An ATS is a software that handles the recruitment process within organisations by sourcing thousands of CVs and applications to determine which applicants match their job requirements. The ATS also allows the organisation to collect and store candidate and job related data and track and monitor the process of candidates through all stages of the hiring process.

Benefits of using Applicant Tracking Systems

Applicant Tracking Systems save employers time and money. More importantly the software streamlines the entire recruitment process, enhances communication and ensures best practices. This in turn reduces administration and the overall time to hire. It prevents duplicate applications and allows recruiters to source candidates from an existing talent pool, which contributes to better workforce planning and budgeting. Applicant Tracking Systems are commonly utilised in larger organisations, however, smaller organisations are beginning to incorporate them into their internal recruitment strategies.

How do Applicant Track Systems work?

If the organisation is using an ATS, when you submit your CV your personal information, education, skills and work experience will be uploaded onto the system. The organisation, usually the HR team, can then review applications through a centralised integrated platform. They will have the facilities to distribute automated messages letting candidates know that their application was received, they can send out requests for online tests such as psychometric tests and schedule interviews or rejection letters.

Recruiters will search for candidates using keywords related to that particular job. To ensure that you are appearing in the search results, your CV needs to reflect the keywords mentioned in the job description, making sure they are relevant to the industry/role. This will contribute to your CV ranking higher in search results. Recruiters will search on qualifications, functional skills, location and software. You may find that even though you applied for a role in the past in which you were unsuccessful, the ATS will keep the CV on the database and may potentially identify you as a good fit for future roles.

Search Engine Optimisation

The process of tailoring your CV so it’s picked up by ATS is similar to the process of Search Engine Optimisation. SEO is the process of tailoring marketing or website collateral to make sure that search engines notices and ranks it high on the list of search results, which in turn will drive traffic towards the site. Matching keywords is a vital part of SEO; if your website contains the keywords that the user types in to Google, the higher up it will appear in search results.

When recruiters search for keywords in the ATS they will be using functional skills. If you are applying for a role as an Engineer, recruiters will use phrases like “Mechanical Engineer”, “Leadership” “Project Management” “Prince 2” or “Utilities”. Recruiters tend not to use soft skills as part of that search criteria such as “confident”, “team player”. It’s important you put an emphasis on the technical facts relevant to that role and industry.

An effective way to get an ATS to pick up your CV is to anticipate which keywords recruiters will be using or trying to find. Wordle is a word cloud function that analyses your documents and creates a word cloud based on the most mentioned keywords. In order to increase your rankings you can copy and paste your CV into the function and make sure the right keywords are appearing within the word cloud.

Research the organisation and tailor your CV

Your CV should be tailored in line with the job description to reflect how you meet the job specification. You need to research the organisation, use similar language and match the culture of the organisation using relative examples. Research individuals who are already in the business on LinkedIn and see if you can mirror any of the relevant courses or qualifications. Researching the jobs and the company will help you optimise your CV with keywords and maximise your chances of getting through to interview stage.

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 call 0800 612 2011 or email info@renovo.uk.com

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