Stuart Gentle Publisher at Onrec

Will your CV beat the bots? Majority of UK job seekers don’t know the answer

TopCV survey reveals 3/4 professionals are unsure their job application will be approved by CV-screening software

According to new research from TopCV, the largest CV-writing service in the world, 75 per cent of UK job seekers are doubtful their CV will beat the ‘hiring bots’ - specialised software  used by organisations to screen candidates’ CVs.This screening technology is also known as an applicant tracking system (ATS), and has become a crucial hurdle to clear for job seekers if they are to make it through to the interview stage.

TopCV asked 13,267 UK job seekers: ‘On a scale of 1 to 5, how confident are you that your CV will make it past the ATS and then on to a human for review?’ Approximately only one in four respondents (24 per cent) were confident their CV would get past the dreaded hiring bots (selecting ‘very confident’ or ‘extremely confident’), and an additional 14 per cent had never heard of an applicant tracking system.

These results indicate a clear lack of understanding of how ATS software works and of the steps candidates can take to ensure their CV safely passes through this computerised gatekeeper. Significantly, an estimated 98 per cent of large organisations use automated systems to scan CVs and eliminate the least-qualified candidates for a role. On average, a staggering 75 per cent of CVs are rejected by these ‘bots’ before the recruiter ever has a chance to see them.

Amanda Augustine, career advice expert at TopCV, suggests job seekers keep the following in mind when writing their next CV:

‘An ATS scans and stores your CV in a digital database that recruiters can use to shortlist applications. Crucially, it bases its decisions on keywords, so candidates should study the job ad carefully to ensure their application reflects the recruiter’s requirements. Also, it’s important to ensure their CV doesn’t contain any “red flags” such as the use of images, unconventional formats or font types, or including employment dates that don’t add up, which might mean automatic removal from the selection pool’.

‘On average, recruiters receive 250 applications per job advertised, so it makes sense for them to adopt a time-saving ATS to help them sift through the mountains of CVs to find the perfect candidate quicker. However, the problem is that it means a great candidate may slip through the net if his or her CV doesn’t meet the ATS’s criteria, which is precisely why it is so important to know what the bots want to see’.

To avoid being rejected by an ATS, Amanda recommends that job seekers stick to the following CV-writing principles:

  • Include keywords – use the job ad as a starting point for these
  • Format your CV correctly – Word document, left-aligned and image-free
  • Avoid the fluff – stick to proven skills and qualifications
  • Use clear, industry-standard job titles
  • Include specific qualifications – make sure these are accurate
  • Tidy up your social media – controversially, some ATS bots can also search social channels to find positive or negatives clues. Turn your settings to private to be safe.

For more information on how to craft an ATS-friendly CV visit here.