Have you ever wondered how companies go through the volume of applications they get any time there is a vacancy?
You probably are not unaware of the unemployment situation in the country and one of the consequences is the number of people that apply for the limited jobs available.
So, naturally, businesses need help sorting through the applications.
This is where ATS comes in to aid companies in the hiring and recruiting process. To this end, it is pertinent to ensure that your CV is beyond the norm and stands out among the volume of other applications directed to the company.
This is because the Application Tracking System works to sort, collate and shortlist applicants. Therefore, if your CV is not well-formed, your CV won’t beat the ATS bots; as a result, it won’t get to the recruiter’s desk.
Luckily, there are some steps to take to ensure that this isn’t the case but your CV beats the ATS bots. However, before then, it is important to first understand what ATS is and what role it plays in the recruiting and hiring process.
What is ATS?
ATS, also known as, ‘Applicant Tracking System’ is any software or technology that is often made use of by recruiters and employers during the recruiting and hiring process. Its major work is to gather, organize, scrutinize and grade the job applications received for the open positions, recommending those that pass the requirements and filing other applications away for future purpose. It is highly used by large and small companies alike to help make the hiring process less stressful and highly effective.
1. Keyword Research
Keywords are very important in CV building and inherently, have a great influence on whether you can get the job or not. So what exactly are these keywords that must be overlooked? They are simply the skills and qualifications highlighted in the job description which should be spelt out in your CV. The reason is that recruiters make use of these keywords to classify or categorise the applicants whose CVs match the skills or qualifications being sought for in the specific job through the use of ATS in the current times.
So, what do you do? Take time to study the job description of the position you are applying for. There are definitely keywords used (sometimes repeatedly), note them down and make use of them in tailoring your CV. A fair warning though; don’t make attempts to include skills and qualifications you don’t possess in your CV in the name of including keywords, rather, focus on applying for jobs in an industry or field that is your forte. The keywords – in this instance – will just help to polish or portray your acquired skills. In case you get confused and do not know how to optimize keywords, consider consulting a CV professional to help out.
2. Titles – Keep Them Simple
It will be counterproductive to import all the big and ‘catchy’ grammar you know into your CV, the reason is that the ATS has been conditioned to identify or look out for standard and basic titles, so your CV is in jeopardy of being thrown into the proverbial dark hole if the titles are not kept simple and straight as the ATS won’t be able to properly sort the content in their databases.
The point is to make use of standard and straightforward titles in building your CV, this makes it ATS-friendly. Essential titles include Education, Key Skill, Qualifications, Work Experience, etc.
3. Highlight Relevant Skills and Experience
In building your CV, ensure to keep in mind the fact that you need to impress your recruiters (and the ATS, of course), while it is good to ensure that the use of specific keywords is optimized, it is also germane to ensure that relevant skills on the position applied for are included. Most positions are jostled for by hundreds of applicants, therefore, what would make your CV stand out is highlighting concrete skills that can be proven and measured. In essence, what gets you noticed is the relevant achievements you’ve amassed in the course of working in the past that will get your CV – and you – noticed. Remember, the highlighted achievements must be relevant to the job you’re applying for otherwise, it is not useful in that specific context.
4. CV Formatting
One of the factors that play into the acceptance or rejection of CVs is the type of format used. Basically, there are three formats generally used, they are; Chronological, Functional and Hybrid. The acceptable formats for ATS are chronological or hybrid, therefore, stick to them as they will greatly increase your opportunity of getting past the tracking system.
You also want to ensure that you avoid filling your CV with algorithms such as symbols, graphics, tables, text boxes and their likes unless if specifically requested as they are not identified by the ATS and may cause a parsing error. Also, ensure that your name and contact information are located at the top of your CV to make it easier for the ATS to pick up the vital information. In essence, stick to the basics and ensure that your focus is on the facts that can be proven while keeping things plain and succinct.
References inclusion in your CV is not advisable; the reason is simple. Including your referee’s contact details might be picked up as your contact details by the tracking system, as such, your referee may end up being called up for an interview. Imagine using your former employee as a referee and a call is placed to such, inviting him for an interview. Therefore, refrain from adding your references to your CV, rather, wait until it is demanded.
6. Consistency – premium
For a general outlook on your professional or career path, you must be consistent in your usage of keywords, especially ensuring that those contained in your CV are the same or similar to those in your LinkedIn profile. This helps to ensure effectiveness in searching for jobs. It also portrays consistency and a knack for paying attention to details to the recruiters.
In conclusion, ensure that you don’t include information that you cannot defend or can’t be traced or proven in your CV. Remember that it doesn’t start and end with the ATS, you will most likely have to go through the interview stage and your lies or exaggerations can be easily detected upon conversation. Instead, keep it honest and simple.
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Ogugua is the founder of MyJobMag, the premier site for finding the best jobs in Nigeria today. You can follow him on twitter @myjobmag for more career tips and advice.