Updated: May 13
Have you ever received the automated response from a job application "Sorry your application has been unsuccessful at this time, but we'll keep your CV on file for future possibilities"? Blah, Blah, Blah...
This is probably because a real human being at the company hasn't even read your CV, let alone composed a reply for you. Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) rule recruitment in 2019 and it is estimated that 98% of fortune 500 companies use ATS to pre-screen CVs prior to them being reviewed by an actual human being.
This CV black hole is very real and unless you know how to write a CV that is designed to pass through the ATS algorithm scan, you stand little chance of landing an interview. Here are 4 rules to follow to ensure your CV passes into the recruiter's lap and actually stands a chance of securing an interview.
1. LAYOUT & FORMAT
Keep everything left aligned and use regular fonts like Calibri or Cambria. Dont use downloaded fonts from the internet.
Give each section a clear title and make the title bold and a slightly larger font.
Use Microsoft word format, not google docs, PDF or image files.
Save CAPITALISATION for section headers.
Don't use emoji's or Unicode characters, the ATS will be unable to read these #######.
Don't use small CAPS, the ATS will be unable to read these #######.
2. HEADERS & FOOTERS
Don't use them, most ATS will not pick up on words inside headers and footers. I heard a story that some professionals were trying to cheat the ATS by inserting keywords inside of headers and footers and they made the text white so the normal eye couldn't catch it... Guess what, it didn't work.
3. GRAPHICS & FANCY LAYOUTS
I used to design creative style CVs for my clients until I learned about ATS rules. You know the ones which had sidebars, logos, project images. Guess what? If you use a creative style CV in an ATS your information will end up as garbage and your application unsuccessful.
Use LinkedIn to research keywords and tailor your CV for every application. Make sure you state who you are professionally near the top of your CV. i,e. Name - Project Manager and use a key skills section to list your relevant keywords and phrases. use the vocabulary that the company is using for both required skills, qualifications and certificates.
Remember, it is always the best fit that gets the interview! Good luck!
Lee Woodrow is a CV & LinkedIn Optimisation Coach and helps contractors, senior job seekers & business owners to land interviews and opportunities fast. He is an ex-military instructor, has 14 years of corporate experience, understands advanced sales techniques and the psychology of reading documents and is an accredited CV writer.