Guest post by CV-Library, May 2018

ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System – a tool that employers use to make the recruitment process easier and less time-consuming.

Essentially, the ATS will sort through applications before they even reach the recruiter or hiring manager, putting more pressure on candidates to write a CV that’s going to get past the robots.

If you’re interested in finding out more, read on for our overview of what ATSs mean for you and how you can get past them with a winning CV.


What is an ATS?

As mentioned above, ATS software helps employers to manage the applications that they receive. The technology will scan through each CV and search for relevant keywords that match the job description and requirements of the role.

ATSs tend to be used by bigger corporate companies, who receive large volumes of applications, or whom are constantly recruiting. However, recruitment agencies also use ATSs to sift through applications for various positions they’re hiring for.


How they work

Here’s an example. If an employer was hiring for a Marketing Executive, they may use ‘marketing’ as one of their keywords. They may even include certain marketing qualifications, such as ‘CIM’, or even words related to the job such as ‘Google’, ‘SEO’, ‘copywriting’ and so on. The ATS would then match up CVs to these keywords and shortlist the most relevant candidates.

Alongside this, your CV will then sit in the company’s ATS, meaning if you aren’t successful for one role, the employer could potentially contact you for future opportunities.


How to stand out

As you can tell, it is important to write a CV that’s going to have a good chance of being picked up by a company’s ATS. In order to stand out, you should seek to tailor your CV to every single role you apply to. While it might seem tedious, it will boost your chance of getting shortlisted. Here’s how to stand-out:


Use keywords

Your best bet is to scan through the job description for the role you’re applying to and pick out key words and phrases that the employer has used, which are relevant to the position. Then, you should pepper these throughout your CV, to show that you possess the attributes needed for the job.

Just make sure to do this naturally. A CV littered with buzzwords isn’t going to cut it. In addition, use facts and figures to back up your claims. This will help to bring your experience and skills, to life.

Use a clear format

While it might be tempting to get creative with the layout of your CV, formatting can actually be lost once your application goes through an ATS. Therefore, it’s best to use a clear format. Use a clear font, such as Arial or Calibri and lay out your CV in the most appropriate manner. Usually this will start with a personal profile, followed by experience and then qualifications. Ensure that the headings are clear so the ATS can easily analyse it.

Also, stick to saving your file as a PDF. Employers use different programmes to open files and while you might use Microsoft word uses .docx while Macs will use .pages, which could lose the formatting altogether if opened in the wrong programme.


Before you send off your CV, you need to give it a good proofread. When in doubt, pass it on to a friend or family member to review with a fresh pair of eyes. Spelling and grammar mistakes will simply put an employer off and merely suggests that you have poor attention to detail.  Don’t rely solely on spellcheck as it may miss something.

Final thoughts

Writing a CV that’s going to beat the bots may seem like a daunting prospect. However, there are small steps you can take to ensure you don’t miss the mark. Take our advice on board and you’ll be able to bag yourself an interview in no time.

CV-Library is the UK’s leading independent job board and owns a range of other career sites, including Education Jobs. For more expert advice on careers and the workplace, visit their Career Advice and Recruitment Insight pages.

Lis McGuire

Lis McGuire

Lis McGuire is a professional CV writer at Giraffe CVs. She has 15 years of experience gained delivering interview-winning CVs and cover letters for professionals at all levels, helping individuals to stand out from the crowd in a highly competitive job market.
Lis McGuire
Lis McGuire
Lis McGuire

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