What is an ATS and how to make your CV ATS-friendly?

As job seekers, most of us spend a lot of time making our CVs perfect. We try to highlight our skills and the experience we have gained so that we can make a great and lasting impression on the employer. However, what most job hunters do not realize is that their hard work in creating a great resume, more often than not, is never even seen by the employer. Many job hunters wait for days on end to get a reply but it never arrives. The main reason for this is due to software known commonly as ATS or Applicant Tracking Systems.

So, what exactly is an Applicant Tracking System? To put it in simple terms, it is CV management software that filters out CVs that do not match the job as described by the employer. The software is designed to go through resumes for specific keywords that are mentioned in the job description. Unless your resume has those keywords, chances are high that a human will not see it and you will be waiting for an interview call endlessly.

So, how do you get your CV into the right hands? There are a few points to keep in mind if you wish your resume to reach the right hands and they are:

  • The type of file is very important when it comes to ATS. A PDF file may look great, but most pdf files get rejected by the ATS. The best option is a text file as the software can easily parse them; however, opting for a Docx file is ideal.
  • An Applicant Tracking System checks the resumes for specific keywords and hence it is necessary to add the right keywords in your resume to get selected. For example, if you are applying for the post of Administrative Assistant, it is necessary that the words are mentioned in your resume. Also make sure that you do not stuff your resume with keywords because it will be considered as spam and your resume will get rejected summarily. Do a Google search and find suitable keywords and use them sparingly, maybe twice or thrice in your resume to get shortlisted.
  • Though images and graphics look great on a resume, it will not be useful when it comes to an ATS as it will not be able to read it. So try to avoid a lot of images, graphics and charts in your resume.
  • Many applicants add vital information such as their name, address, qualification etc., in the header and footer section of a document. Though it looks great when printed or when viewed on a screen, this information will not be parsed by most applicant tracking systems. So make sure to add important information in the document area and not in the header or footer.

Make sure to update your resume periodically. Even if you are not job hunting, keeping the resume updated and ready with all the necessary details is always a good idea.