Applicant Tracking Systems are not new
With the advent of the internet, it is now easier than ever to apply for jobs and there is no excuse for not finding suitable vacancies on the diverse recruitment sites, whether they are industry specific, recruitment agencies or general job boards.
However, it is likely that the downside is that because of the internet, the recruiters receive many more applications than they could have originally envisaged and are buried beneath huge piles of candidate’s CVs.
So what do these poor overwhelmed recruiters do?
They use an applicant tracking system (ATS).
This programme screens, analyses and ranks online applications based on predetermined keywords, tossing out up to 80% of CVs. And depending on how old the system is, your CV could be screened out for basic formatting issues, like underlining words or using tables.
Make sure your CV is keyword optimised based on the job description by reading the job description like a ‘love letter’ and determine 8-12 hard skills that are required.
Examples of hard skills are: Project management, typing speeds, knowledge of a foreign language, copy-editing, event planning, taking minutes, data analysis, etc. Hard skills can also be technologies and use of software packages: Microsoft Suite, Photoshop, QuickBooks, etc. or experience of using different phone systems for example. (This is in contrast to soft skills like “detail oriented,” “good communicator,” “multi-tasking” or “team-player.”)
You can also paste the job description into a word cloud tool like wordclouds.net to determine the most frequently used hard skills.
How to format your CV for a Applicant Tracking System
Formatting your CV is essential as an easily read document is not only pleasing on the eye but it also focuses the reader on key points.
• Less is more: Leave sufficient white space to make the document easy to read but feel confident in having a maximum two-page CV
• List your dates of employment right aligned and your job titles and companies left aligned to show your continued work history
• Use centred and capitalised headings to draw attention to your sections and credentials
• Font size should be 11 or 12 point — no smaller
• Use simple, clean fonts (non-scripted): For example, Arial, Tahoma, Helvetica, Calibri, Verdana, etc.
• Do not use abbreviations. (Personal Assistant not Pers Asst or PA)
• Spell out less common acronyms. When in doubt, spell it out
• Use a space between slashes, i.e. Secretary / Administrator not Secretary/Administrator, otherwise the ATS sees it as one word.
• Do not use headers, footers, text boxes, tables, images, shading, fancy bullet points, or accent marks
• Lines separating sections are OK as long as they do not touch text
• Bold or italicised text is OK, but not underlining because it touches the text
Lastly, do a final proofread for spelling and grammar, and then hand your CV, along with the job description, to a good friend or career coach to take check over for you.
Save your newly renamed document in a file or folder before submitting it online and entering the Applicant Tracking System.
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