How to create an ATS friendly CV that will land you that job

An applicant tracking system (ATS) is software that manages the recruiting and hiring process, including job postings and job applications. It organizes information about job seekers and makes it searchable. Most large corporations utilize applicant tracking systems.

Here are a couple of things that you should note when attempting to create an ATS friendly resume:



Select the right file type

PDF files are great for maintaining the design and format of your resume but they are not ATS friendly. Not all ATS software can process PDF files so unless they explicitly tell you to upload your resume in  PDF form I would suggest you upload it as a Word Document .doc or .docx to be safe.


Pick the right format

There are plenty of resume formats that one can use but the best is reverse-chronological. It is easy to read and prioritizes your work experience.


Include keywords in your resume

Resume keywords and phrases are specific abilities, skills, expertise, and attributes that ATS software scans for in a resume. The two types of keywords that you should use are job-related nouns such as research and problem solving and action verbs such as conducted and completed. To find the keywords you should use you can go through the job description


Use both the long and acronym version of keywords 

ATS software might only scan for the acronym version of a keyword so to be safe use both versions to prevent it from being discarded.


Organize and label your sections well

Put all the information relevant to work experience under work experience and for skills under skills do not mix them up. Also do not get too creative and try to rewrite the headings for each section such as referring to work experience as where I have worked. Keep it simple and straight to the point.


Only apply to roles you are qualified for

ATS software will immediately discard your resume if it doesn't have the required qualifications for the job. You do not have to have all of them, you just need enough to make you compatible for the job. Always research the requirements for the job before applying for it


Do not use images, charts, and other graphics

ATS can only read words so including any kind of graphic in your resume will result in it not being considered


Use simple bullet points and use one consistently throughout your resume

The use of elaborate bullet points and using different ones throughout your resume could distract the ATS software. Simple ones like a plain circle and a dash are much more ATS friendly


Avoid Header or Footer details

Not all ATS can properly read and understand the information on your header and footer. The information can get lost or cause errors. So avoid putting your contact information on the header of your resume.


This article is published as part of the opportunity recommendation service. The opportunity recommendation service helps our users achieve their dreams and self-actualize in anything that they pursue, this can be in the form of grants, jobs, scholarships, or even residencies. We also help you with your applications and CVs through the Application/CV drop-in clinic held every other Sunday from 6 pm-7 pm (East Africa Timezone). For inquiry, please message us on the 'QAN Community Admin' account.

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