How to optimise your CV for Applicant Tracking Systems

Get the interview for your dream job by adjusting your CV so it is ATS friendly!

05/11/2018

Jobs are easy to apply for nowadays; you can go online, upload your CV and cover letter and click send. However, due to the large volume of potential candidates that job listings receive (hundreds and thousands) employers need an effective and time-saving way to sieve through the job applications. This is where Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) come into play.

ATS work by comparing CVs to the job description; they then score the CV and show whether the candidate is a good match for the role or not. Employers can save time and cut down their search by eliminating anyone who scores less than 80% for example.

ATS scan your CV and/or cover letter to see whether you are right for the role, including keywords that match the job description and relevant experience. Your CV also needs to have a clear format and structure so that the ATS can read it.

Relevant keywords

In order to optimise your CV for ATS you need to identify keywords and skills in the job description. To do this, make sure you:

• Have the relevant title in your CV. For example, if the role is for a Sales Executive – make sure you put this in your CV (either as your previous experience or in your personal statement expressing your passion for being a sales executive).
• Identify the hard and soft skills necessary for completing the role. For example, if the job specification says you need to have a Bachelor’s degree, knowledge of coding, communication skills and teamwork, then you will need to mention all of these in your CV.
• Don’t waffle. Clarity is very important with ATS so ensure your CV is clear and concise.

Relevant experience

Much like the keywords, you need to identify what work experience you have that is relevant to the role.
To do this, make sure you:

• Thoroughly read the job description and personal specification and tailor your previous work experience accordingly. For example, if the job application wants you to have 3+ years in a similar role, make sure you state that you have that and then go into detail about what your role/s entailed.
• List your less relevant experience – if it can be used as a transferrable skill. If you have already listed enough relevant work experience for the ATS to pick up then listing your less relevant (but equally important) transferrable skill experience is useful for when the employer is reviewing your CV.

A clear format

Many ATS are old-fashioned so can’t read CVs that don’t follow the traditional format. Make sure your CV:

• Has clear titles and headings. This will help the ATS find each section and find the relevant information it is looking for.
• Doesn’t have a fancy layout. The ATS will be able to read a classical CV a lot easier than a CV that has been designed to help you stand out. Remember content is more important than the design of your CV when it comes to ATS.


A quick and easy way to ensure your CV can be read by ATS is by using Jobscan. All you have to do is copy and paste your CV and the job description into the allocated text boxes and Jobscan will tell you what your score is. It can be a handy tool to use before you send out your job applications.


If you are looking for a job and need some help with your CV, cover letter or application, then check out our Twin Employment and Training website and contact our team today.