The first step in being recruited into almost any role is getting your customised CV before a hiring manager or recruiter. Unfortunately, this process isn’t always as simple as it seems.

As companies look for ways to simplify and digitise the hiring process, many are turning to technology for help. A.T.S. systems, or Applicant Tracking Systems, can help recruitment agencies and direct hiring teams sort through the applications for each role. Unfortunately, 70% of job applications fail to pass the A.T.S. test.

While an A.T.S. system can save a company a lot of time searching for the right talent, there are endless ways the technology can trip candidates up.

Here are some of the best strategies to make your CV A.T.S. friendly.

1.     Choose the Right CV format

Formatting is one of the most important factors in ensuring your CV is ATS-friendly. Your information needs to be well-organised and easy for the technology to scan through.

Reverse chronological is the most commonly recommended formatting option for most C.V.s. This is the go-to for most recruiters and hirers, as it places the most important information (your most recent work experience) at the top of the page.

2. Find the Right File Type

The file type is the document you use to send your CV to a hirer or recruitment company. When applying for a role, you might see requests for specific file types on the job description. Usually, the versatile option is a PDF, as it can be read by most A.T.S. software.

PDF files are excellent for maintaining the formatting and design of your CV/resume. However, some older applicant tracking models cannot read PDFs. In this case, your would-be employer might ask you to submit a .doc file.

Make sure you read the instructions carefully to ensure you’re using the right file type.

3. Use a Simple Layout

Simplicity is important for almost all CV’s, particularly where business hiring managers and recruiters are likely to spend hours going through hundreds or even thousands of applications.

A simple CV layout will be easy to read, with bulleted lists highlighting your achievements.

Avoid using complex graphics or extra formatting to make your CV look more impressive. Fancy templates can be scrambled by the A.T.S. technology, which may make your CV harder to read and even get your application thrown out by the system.

There are special A.T.S. templates available online if you’re stuck.

4. Use Keywords

Excellent C.V.s/resumes and cover letters for any role should be tailored to suit the position’s specific requirements. Ensure you look for important keywords listed in the job description that the A.T.S. software might be looking for in your application.

For instance, skills related to a specific role are often one of the first things your A.T.S. will look for. If you need a certain certification or degree to be suitable for a certain role, include those words on your CV.

It’s also worth using plenty of action words in your resume because this helps to highlight things you’ve accomplished. Try terms like “created” or “solved”.

Don’t just throw keywords in at random, though; remember to ensure the terms you use make sense in the context of the application. Remember: A human will still read your CV after the A.T.S.

5. Don’t Apply for Too Many Roles At Once

A.T.S. tools are designed to find the best possible person for each role. With that in mind, it’s worth thinking carefully about whether you’re the right individual for the position you’re applying for. If you don’t have any of the skills the company is asking for on a job description, you’re not going to pass the A.T.S. test.

Similarly, applying for multiple jobs with the same company could lead to the technology labelling your application as spam.

Even if you get through to the human review stage with one or two applications, sending too many job applications to the same company can make you look like you’re desperate for any role rather than applying for the right position.

6. Don’t Game the System

As A.T.S. systems become increasingly popular worldwide, there has been an increase in people attempting to “game the system” or find ways to outsmart the technology.

Although you might be able to find a handful of articles and guides telling you how to improve your chances of getting through any screening process, tricking the system won’t work long-term.

Even if you did manage to convince the A.T.S. to send your application to the next level by copy-pasting keywords from the job description into your CV, this wouldn’t get you anywhere when a human reviews your application.

7. Don’t Just Design for Robots

Finally, it’s easy to get caught up with the complexity of keeping track of everything you need to do to make your CV technology-friendly. In some cases, you might get so focused on designing for the A.T.S. that you forget about the importance of designing for people.

Ultimately, the A.T.S. is just the first stage of the filtering process for applicants in most hiring and recruitment strategies. This means while you need to make your CV easy enough for the robots to leverage and read, you also need to ensure it’s suitable for humans.

Read through everything when you’re done editing and make sure the content still flows naturally through the page.

Kind regards

Neil & Adela

At The Recruiting Office, we have been helping firms with their talent acquisition, and a wide range of job seekers find their ideal roles for almost a decade and have successfully placed hundreds of top-tier candidates. If you want to find out how we can help you – call us on 01603 964816 or email