Top 10 tactics to optimise your CV for Applicant Tracking System

Discussions about ATS are bandied about on a regular basis, writes contractor winning-work expert Matt Craven, founder of The CV & Interview Advisors, but is all as it seems?

The big misconception

Let’s start by clarifying what an ATS is.

I expect most ContractorUK readers will know that 'ATS' is an acronym for Applicant Tracking System. But ATS does a lot more than what contractors need to concern themselves with!

An ATS typically helps organisations to manage their entire recruitment / talent management process including, but not limited to:

  • Job Posting,
  • CV Importing,
  • CV Parsing,
  • CV Matching,
  • Candidate Tracking,
  • Analytics; and
  • Onboarding

Matching & Parsing

When people talk about ‘ATS optimisation,’, they  are really talking about optimising CVs for the CV Matching and CV Parsing modules of ATS.

The CV Matching module matches a job description / contract brief with a CV and the CV Parsing technology makes sense of the contents, ensuring the correct interpretation of the data prior to the CV data being imported into the ATS.

But here’s the thing. An astonishing 70% of CVs are REJECTED by the ATS and consequently NEVER get read by a human being.

I will be talking more about them for ContractoUK readers on Wednesday December 1st in free but exclusive webinar, but there are several tactics that are needed to avoid ATS  failing you at the first post. To also highlight the complexities of ATS optimisation, I have picked a scenario that many contractors will know well to briefly touch on these tactics here.

Location, Location, Location

If a recruiter is looking for an IT Project Manager in Preston, it’s unlikely that they will consider candidates as far away as Southampton, partly because there will be ample Project Managers in the vicinity of Preston! And it’s partly due to the operational challenges of arranging interviews for candidates in Southampton when the client is based in Preston, and partly because relocating / work away from home scenarios pose more risk that the alternatives.

Now, if it was a really high-profile Programme Director role with only a hand-full of suitable candidates across the UK, the location-specific rule may not apply. But for mid-market and below opportunities, be aware it’s just logistical aggravation the recruiter and client simply don’t need.

So how does this relate to ATS?

Well, what happens for many contractor opportunities is that the client / recruiter stipulates that they will ONLY consider candidates within a 30-mile radius of where the work is based.

Good ole ATS can assess this based on postcode parameters! So, to cut a long story short, omitting your postcode from your CV may render you one of the 70% who are rejected at source for that IT Project Manager role, even if you live on Preston High Street!

And finally, top 10 tactics for ATS...

As mentioned, this is only a taster -- there are approximately 10 other important tactics that you should adopt to optimise your CV for ATS, and we will be covering them in our upcoming webinar on Wednesday December 1st at 6pm. You can register for free here.

Monday 22nd Nov 2021
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Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Linked-In-Credible. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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