Deus ex Applicant Tracking Systems

Deus ex Applicant Tracking Systems

Hi guys! This is Cesc Derrill and welcome back to my newest article!

In today’s article I wanted to get into the main reason why our CV is never short-listed: the Applicant Tracking Systems.

But what is an Applicant Tracking System or ATS?

You know when you apply to a position and wait for a recruiter to read you CV? Well, keep waiting honey! The first thing that will see your CV will be the ATS, a brainless piece of software that reads words and matches them to a specified criteria. That means that if they are looking for a technical expert and you write tech-savvy you ain’t getting the job.

ATS are widely used among recruiting companies and even though they are getting more and more sophisticated they are, inevitably, a machine that does not allow margin for interpretation.

How do they work?

Basically the recruiter creates a job position with key words an requirements. The software looks through the incoming CVs and scores them in accordance to the predefined criteria. The more key words it finds and the more criteria are met the higher the score.

At the end the recruiter will see a list of CVs scored as per the matching score percentage. A recruiter will only read through the top 10 or so if their score is high enough. That means that if your CV does not score enough the recruiter will never see it. At the end: Computer says no…

Does that mean that if I do not score enough that means I am not good enough. Oh hell no! That only means that the software did not find the key words it was instructed to find. You may have the experience but your CV may not be ATS-proof.

How do I make my CV ATS proof?

Career coaches can help you preparing your CV, but if you ain’t got the money honey, Cesc will give your some hints:

  • No graphs

ATS only read words, so keep your fancy charts for direct applications

  • Use key words

Look for several vacancies that match the type of job you want to get and try to see which words are common in their requirements. Compile a list and make sure those words appear in your CV. It has to make sense darling, after the machine there is a human being reading it … well a recruiter.

  • Avoid spelling mistakes

If an ATS looks for specific words believe me when I say that spelling mistakes are making you no favour.

  • Use standard section titles

Don’t get creative with the titles. Use typical ones like: education, or work experience. Do not put titles like “the base of who I am today” you ain’t Steve Jobs! And Steve Jobs did not go to uni anyway…

  • Put dates after job position or company name

This is silly but ATS looks for dates after job position or company name, otherwise it won’t be able to calculate the number of years of experience.

  • Use simple fonts

ATS’s convert your text into a font readable for the recruiter. If you are using a special font and the ATS does not recognise it will convert it incorrectly and all the recruiter will see are blank boxes.

Use Serif or Sans Serif Styles.

If you are more conservative use Serif styles like: Cambria, Garamond, Georgia, Palatino or Times New Roman.

If you are like me and like a less formal style then use Sans Serif styles like: Arial, Calibri, Helvetica, Tahoma or Verdana.


Ok guys, this is it for now. As always, if you have any questions or comments so please leave them down below and I will try to answer you the best I can.

Have a lovely day and until the next article!

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