You didn’t get even a phone call.

Maybe you got an automated email. Lucky you.

Perhaps you got no response at all.

Job seekers experience these rejections all the time. It’s tough and it hurts your self-esteem.

Often the reason you didn’t get any acknowledgement on your job application is because a software system determined that you weren’t a great match for the position compared to the other 50 or 100 or 800 people that applied for the role.

What is an ATS?

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are used by recruitment agencies and employers to manage and analyse candidates applying for jobs. ATS is software that takes your CV or Resume, and other data collected in the online application, to help a human identify the candidates to focus on first in order to create a shortlist.

ATS use keywords and CV parsing technology to process your CV and create an impression of you as a candidate which is then assessed against the requirements of the opportunity. This data is recorded and kept on record in a CRM – if your profile is good, you will come up for future opportunities.

Why are they important?

If you don’t optimise your CV or Resume for ATS, your chances of getting interviews and landing on shortlists will be reduced. It also means that you may not be found for future opportunities with that recruiter or employer. Or to put it another way – the robots will reject your CV.

I get it. So, what do I need to know?

How to get your CV shortlisted and beat ATS robots

  • Use industry-standard job titles.
  • Make sure your key skills are clearly articulated and easy to identify.
  • Make sure the right keywords are in your CV. Include specific terms that identify your skills and experience that make you a good fit for the role.
  • Have a concise CV that is clearly written and simple in format.
  • Avoid images and tables.
  • List your jobs in reverse chronological order.

I could go on. And on. And on. There is an art to writing CVs that win interviews and get you shortlisted. Engaging a professional CV writer who understands how ATS work is a smart move if you want to stand out from the crowd, or if you find you are not getting any interviews for suitable roles. On our site, you can access our free ATS-compliant CV template and there are lots of free resources online – do be careful that the advice you take on board is orientated towards your local job market.

For a deeper understanding, listen to my interview with Michael Osmond from JobAdder for an in-depth exploration of ATS systems (and how to beat them) below. JobAdder process 500k applications per week so these guys know what they’re talking about.

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