If you’re job hunting, then you should be familiar with ATS, not Accounting Technician Scheme but Applicant Tracking System. Who knows, it may be the reason you’re not hearing back from employers after submitting your application and invariably, the reason you’re still without a job.
Applicant Tracking System is a computer software used in managing recruitment processes. It reduces the workload of recruiters in that it helps them screen-out candidates who do not meet certain criteria for the position like years of experience, academic qualification, skill set, etc.
ATS is commonly used in developed countries, USA, UK, Canada, etc, but I’m not sure how common it is with Nigerian companies. But for certain, it is being used. A few friends of mine in HR have personally confided in me that they use Applicant Tracking Systems in screening candidates. That it makes their work easier as they have to spend less time reviewing CVs.
However, the purpose of this article is not to inform you that ATS exist or that it is used here in Nigeria (because I believe you know that already), but to show you how to beat the ATS and get your CV in front of the hiring manager.
How To Beat ATS
1. Avoid the use of acronyms. Most applicant tracking systems are not designed to recognize acronyms, so you’ll be shooting yourself on the foot if you use them frequently on your CV. If you are a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria, for instance, instead of ICAN, write out the name of the professional body in full. The same applies to the companies you’ve worked with, the position you’ve held and the certificates and diplomas you have earned.
2. Use keywords relating to your field on your CV. Include keywords on your CVs qualification summary section. What some people do these days, especially professional CV writers is to include an additional section on a CV and label it “Core Competencies” or “Areas of Expertise” and list keywords under it. You can try it out, it helps. This is another reason applicants are encouraged to customize each CV for a particular role. When you do that you’ll be having different sets of keywords for each position you apply for that are related to the job. One-size -fit-all does not apply to CVs.
3. Do not add anything on the header or Footer. I have seen people include their names, contact and addresses on the Headers of their CVs. It’s not advisable to do that as it could work against you, where the Applicant Tracking System is in use.
4. Use the right format for your CV. There are hundreds of formats out there, but the most acceptable ones are the chronological, functional and hybrid (also known as combination) formats. You can choose from among the three. Don’t try to be too creative. Put the ATS into consideration in whatever you decide to do with your CV.
5. Use standard CV headings. The standard CV headings are “Qualifications Summary” or “Summary of Qualifications,” “Work Experience” or “Work History,” “Objective,” “Education,” etc. Do not attempt to give any of the sections a name that is known only to you. For instance, using “About Me” instead of “Qualifications Summary.” The Applicant Tracking System may not recognize that, and may screen you out because as far as it is concerned, you do not have that section on your CV.
6. Avoid spelling mistakes. You won’t believe that some applicants still have spelling errors on their CVs. Tells a lot about the kind of person you are. That you’re “unserious” or not well-grounded academically. That’s if a human being is the one reviewing your CV, but if it’s the ATS, it’ll have no idea of what you mean, so instead of confusing it, it’ll throw your CV into the waste bin. Review and review your CV, over and over again for spelling errors before submitting it, so that you don’t embark on a futile journey.
7. Use normal fonts. Fancy fonts are not meant for CVs. Instead use fonts like Times New Roman, Calibri and Arial. The size of your font is also important too. Don’t use font size smaller than 11. If you do, you may get into trouble with the Applicant Tracking System.
There are several other tips, but I believe if you take these into account the next time you write or re-write your CV, you’ll begin to experience positive changes.