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3 Top Tips To Optimise Your CV For An ATS

Here, we walk through the 3 top tips on optimising your CV for any ATS in the world and ensure your application gets seen by hiring managers.

Article Author

By Jess Wriggle

3 Top Tips To Optimise Your CV For An ATS Image


What even are those 3 letters?


It’s so confusing, right?

Ok… let's take this step by step.

An ATS (applicant tracking system) is a software application used by many companies to help manage and track job applicants during the hiring process.

These systems are designed to help companies filter and sort through large numbers of CVs and may be used to screen resumes for keywords and qualifications relevant to the job.

They are nothing to worry about.

You will generally never realise your application is going through an ATS, if it is.


It is generally NOT advisable to bypass an ATS; they aren’t bad; these systems are used by many companies as part of their standard hiring process and used to improve the hiring process, not make it worse.

Instead, you should focus on ensuring that your CV is optimised to be read by an ATS so it gets filtered correctly.

Here’s a quick overview of the 3 top tips to optimise for an ATS:

  1. Use keywords
  2. Use clear and organised formatting
  3. Avoid using graphics

Before we get into the top tips, it is advisable to use one of the top CV builders to create your CV.

In fact, CV builders are some of the best tools that will help to get you hired.

Why is an ATS important for candidates?

For candidates, an ATS allows you to easily apply for jobs and track the status of your applications.

Many companies use ATSs to manage their recruitment process, so if you want to be considered for a job at one of these companies, you will need to use the ATS to apply.

Don't panic, though… as I mentioned above; you won’t even know your application is going through an ATS.

You won’t notice any difference if you apply to a company using an ATS vs one not using an ATS. You will simply go to their careers page, add your details and apply for the job.

An ATS can help candidates by allowing them to upload their resumes and other documents in a standardised format, which makes it easier for employers to review and compare candidates.

It speeds up the process and makes the time to get a response for you much quicker.

There are, however, a few things you can do to your CV to optimise it and give your application the best chance of getting seen by recruiters.

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1. Use keywords

First thing…

We need to use keywords in our CV.

CV’s get ‘parsed’, which means all the words on them get analysed and read by the ATS.

Think of it like going to Asos and searching for shoes; then you filter by ‘Nike’ shoes.

Suppose you’re applying for a marketing job. In that case, the ATS could be filtering for anyone with ‘Marketing Degree’ in their CV, candidates without it will get filtered out, and candidates with it will remain in the hiring process.

Here is the perfect example, with keywords highlighted throughout the CV:

Keywords in CV example

Here are some tips for optimising keywords on a CV for an ATS:

1. Use relevant keywords: Look at the job posting and identify the specific skills and requirements the employer is looking for. Use these keywords in your CV to show you have the necessary skills and experience.

2. Use keyword variations: ATSs are not always able to recognise synonyms, so it's a good idea to use variations of keywords. For example, if the job posting lists "project management" as a requirement, you could also include "project leader" and "project coordinator" as additional keywords.

3. Use industry-specific keywords: Include industry-specific keywords on your CV if you work in a specific industry, helping the ATS understand the context of your skills and experience.

4. Use keywords throughout your CV: Do more than include keywords in your skills section. Spread them throughout your CV, including in your job titles and job descriptions.

5. Use action verbs: Action verbs such as "achieved," "implemented," and "managed" can help make your CV more powerful and effective.

Using these tips, you can help ensure that your CV get’s indexed by an ATS and is more likely to be seen by a hiring manager.

2. Use clear and organised formatting

You should do this anyway, regardless of whether the company you apply to uses an ATS. Creating a CV is quick an easy; this guide about how to create a CV will help.

For an ATS, formatting and ensuring your CV is clear is essential; if it can’t decipher the different sections in your CV, it will reject it.

1. Use a simple, easy-to-read font: Choose a font that is easy to read, such as Arial or Calibri, and use a size that is large enough to be easily read but not so large that it takes up too much space.

2. Use headings and subheadings: Use headings and subheadings to help organise your CV and make it easier to read, including headings such as "Education," "Work Experience," and "Skills”.

3. Use bullet points: Use bullet points to list your job duties, accomplishments, and other information. It makes it easier for the reader to scan your CV and quickly see what you offer.

4. Use white space: Don't be afraid to leave some white space in your CV, it makes your CV look more organised and easier to read.

5. Use consistent formatting: Use the same font, size, and formatting throughout your CV to give it a more professional look and feel.

3. Avoid using graphics

One way to avoid using graphics on a CV for an ATS is to use a simple, easy-to-read format and font.

Avoid using graphics, tables, or columns, as the ATS may not correctly interpret these. Instead, use bullet points to organise your information and make it easier to scan.

You should also save your CV as a plain text file or in a commonly used word processing format such as .doc or .docx, helping ensure that the ATS can read and parse your CV correctly.

Actually, most ATSs won’t let you apply if you have the incorrect file format.

It's also a good idea to include a plain text version of your CV in your job application email to ensure that the ATS and the hiring manager can easily access and read your CV.

Finally, it's important to carefully proofread your CV to ensure that it is error-free and easy to read. A well-written, easy-to-read CV can help improve your chances of being selected for an interview, even if the ATS cannot interpret certain graphics or formatting elements.

If you stick to the 3 top tips above, your CV will be fully optimised for any ATS.

Also, you should use your CV as part of your application alongside a LinkedIn profile. This guide will help you create a winning LinkedIn profile.

Now, you can search the world's biggest job boards to find your dream job.

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Get Hired Faster

Use to create a CV and ensure it gets read by recruiters.

Create CV Now