How to Pass the ATS Test

To ensure your CV passes the applicant tracking system (ATS) test and is not lost in the “black hole” where 75% of job applicants’ CVs end up – never arriving in the hands of a human – it is important you write it and format it correctly. We give you a few tips on how to Pass the ATS test when you apply for jobs.

What is an ATS test and how does it work?

The ATS is a type of software used by companies and recruiters to process job applications. It is designed to select the right applicants and reject those who don’t meet the job requirements. Even if you do meet the job requirements, if your CV isn’t written or formatted correctly, the recruiter will not see it. So how do you ensure your CV passes the ATS test?

Use keywords

Every job has keywords and phrases that are specific to it or associated with it. You will see these words in the job specification/description. For a customer service role for an example, keywords and phrases like “customer service” and “communication” will most likely appear in the job description.

The ATS test relies on these keywords, so ensure you populate your CV with the right keywords, matching them to those used in the job specification. If the job description doesn’t provide enough keywords, go on the company website and see if there are any employee profiles where they describe their work. Their profiles can also be found on LinkedIn. Collect keywords from these profiles and use them on your CV.

It is important that you get these keywords right in the title in particular. If the job posting is for a Content Writer but your CV reads Copywriter, change it to Content Writer. By matching you will receive a higher score.

Use the correct file

Use the correct format, and that is a Word document and not a PDF, unless you are asked to send a PDF. PDFs are not compatible with most ATS software.

Keep formatting simple

Use the same font, and avoid using lots of different colours. Don’t use graphics or symbols, unless they are bullet points. The ATS will not read them. Keep it clean and professional and lose unnecessary information before the ATS does.

Don’t use photos

Our last tip on how to Pass the ATS test is not to use pictures. Pictures are not liked for more than one reason. Firstly, the ATS will not pick up images, so they will be lost. Secondly, recruiters don’t like them. They can be distracting and recruiters don’t want to spend the few seconds they have looking at a photo. And lastly, pictures should not be used to avoid discrimination. Whether Ms Smith is black, white, big or small, she should not be rejected, or given an interview, based on her appearance.

If you would like one of our experts to give you a free CV review, please get in contact.

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