People 'n' Issues

How To Get Your CV Past the Robots

August 12th, 2016
Do you ever get the feeling that your CV hasn’t been read by the company or recruiter that you’ve sent it to? That could very well be because no human eyes ever perused it at all, says Jesse Green, Country Manager for Adzuna.
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New screening software sifts through CVs and only shortlists those that seem to have the right qualifications and experience for the job, based on what recruiters have entered as minimum requirements.

Applicant Tracking Software (ATS) systems are now quite numerous and some of them represented by global companies. Some are very sophisticated and others rather rudimentary and your CV needs to get past both of them. Your CV, whether in a file format like Word (.doc) or PDF, is stored in a searchable database and then parsed.

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Parsers are software components that remove styling to leave strings of text that are machine readable. Thereafter systems can read what your CV is about. However, if your résumé doesn’t parse well, you’ll be at a disadvantage. If you want to get past these digital doormen, you’ll need to make sure your CV adheres to these 15 tips.

Do’s:

  • Proofread carefully to avoid misspellings, especially on vital words such as job titles or skills. Don’t rely on a spellchecker.
  • Use a standard word editor to format and save your CV – not every ATS can handle PDFs.
  • Pick out important words from the job ad and use them (and variations of them) in your CV.
  • Use proper capitalisation so groups of words that are related to each other are recognised.
  • Use a standard font in black – Arial, Courier and Tahoma are ideal.
  • Remain consistent when reporting employment history – Company Name, Title, Location, and Date is a standard format.
  • Upload your CV instead of copy and pasting to ensure formatting is kept.
  • Use standard CV headings such as Summary, Work, Skills and Education

Don’ts

  • Use image files in place of text.
  • Use white font to include hidden keywords – some ATSs can see this invisible text and you’ll look like you’re trying to cheat the system.
  • Use unnecessary abbreviations that an ATS might not recognise. When using industry abbreviations, include the spelled-out version of the word in the first instance
  • Use special characters (plain bullet points are ok)
  • Use tables.
  • Put text in the header or footer – it may be ignored.
  • Submit multiple CVs to the same company for the same job – it can look like spam.

Getting your CV past the ATS software and into the hands of the hiring manager is only the first step. You’ll still need to make sure your CV is fit for human eyes, and if invited for an interview, you’ll need to impress in person. Yet getting past the machines is becoming more and more of a challenge, especially for those who do not.

  • Visit Adzuna to search jobs in South Africa or find career enhancing information.

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