Advice on an Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

Over the last decade there has been a significant growth in the number of businesses and organisations that use some form of software application to enable the electronic handling of recruitment, particularly in the sifting of CV’s and application forms. Such systems filter automatically based on certain criteria, such as keywords and years of experience. So, given that there is often no human element involved in the initial sifting process of CV’s how does this impact on the content and design of a modern CV used for job search purposes?

The advice that we have always given to our clients on tailoring their CV to the job they are applying for still holds true. Reading through the job advertisement and if available the job description, should help in identifying the key words that the CV should look to contain. But there are some trends, that I have noticed, that do not lend themselves to ATS applications.

Images and logos: Whilst there may be some visual attraction to including company logos in the career history section, most ATS applications don’t recognise logos or any form of graphics

File format: I have often advised my clients to upload CV’s on to job boards in PDF format. But most ATS applications will only recognise Word docs

Text boxes, tables and columns: Most ATS applications cannot scan and decipher the information in these formats

Headers and footers: Again, the information in these sections is not visible in most ATS applications

Standard headings: Most ATS applications search for standard headers such as Personal Profile/Personal Statement/ Career History/Work Experience. So, don’t deviate from these.

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