How to Tailor Your CV for AI Screening

In today's job market, your CV isn't just a document it's your digital representative and the key that can unlock...

Wes Plumb
Wes  Plumb 
8 min read Reading Time
3 November 2023 Date Created

In today’s job market, your CV isn’t just a document it’s your digital representative and the key that can unlock opportunities. With the advent of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) powered by Artificial Intelligence (AI), job applications are increasingly subjected to a digital gatekeeper, making it crucial to tailor your CV to navigate this new hiring landscape effectively.

The Rise of ATS and AI

The traditional hiring process has evolved. Companies hiring in candidate rich environments are inundated with job applications and manually reviewing each one is a daunting task. ATS powered by AI is the solution. These systems can quickly sift through hundreds or thousands of applications, pinpointing the most relevant candidates based on predefined criteria however, this also means that your CV might not even land on a hiring manager’s desk if it doesn’t meet ATS standards.

Understanding ATS Algorithms

To tailor your CV for AI screening, you need to understand how these systems work. ATS algorithms are designed to search for specific keywords, phrases, and formatting. They evaluate your CV for relevance to the job description and company needs. Here’s how you can make your CV ATS-friendly:

Keyword Optimization

  • Analyze the Job Description: Start by thoroughly analyzing the job posting. Highlight keywords, skills, and qualifications that the employer values.
  • Incorporate Relevant Keywords: Integrate these keywords naturally into your CV. Be honest about your skills and experience, but use language that matches the job description.

Clear and Consistent Formatting

  • Use Standard Sections: Ensure your CV has standard sections, such as a clear heading, summary, work experience, education, and skills. Avoid using images, graphics, or unusual fonts.
  • Simple File Format: Save your CV as a plain text or a universally compatible format like PDF. This prevents formatting issues during the parsing process.

Tailored Content

  • Customize Your CV: Customize your CV for each job application. Highlight the most relevant skills and experiences for the specific role.
  • Quantify Achievements: Use quantifiable data to demonstrate your accomplishments. Metrics and numbers can stand out to both ATS and human recruiters.

No Need for Tables or Columns

  • Simplicity is Key: ATS systems might struggle with tables, columns, or text boxes. Stick to a simple, linear format to ensure all your content is parsed accurately.

Avoid Spelling and Grammar Errors

  • Proofread: Carefully review your CV for spelling and grammar errors. Mistakes can affect the parsing process and your professional image.

Test and Optimize

Once you’ve tailored your CV, it’s essential to test it. Some job boards offer free ATS checkers that simulate the screening process. Use these tools to see how well your CV aligns with ATS algorithms.

You will need a job to add the job description and hiring company URL. Gives you a score, and highlights the issues, but you need to pay for their recommendations. – Quiet, good for detail. You will need a job description for this one also.

Have a go; this will give you a better understanding of how they work & so you can optimise your CV/ resume. 

My Verdict on AI ATS Testing

After putting 12 AI ATS platforms to the test, I’ve narrowed down the top three free options, which are worth considering up to a certain point. These platforms displayed noticeable differences, yet some common threads ran through all of them, such as their ability to identify keywords, quantify achievements, and analyze language.

The good news is that, for most job seekers, these systems should pose no significant hurdle unless you’re applying to be the “Professor of Cunning” at Oxford University while holding a day job as a bus driver. That said, the ease of navigating these systems may still depend on the specific ATS in use by the employer.

What struck me as particularly intriguing during my testing was the emphasis placed on soft skills and language. Some platforms excelled at cross-referencing the language used in the job description with that in the CV or resume. While this can be a beneficial feature, it also raises concerns in some regions due to potential discrimination issues. For instance, if a job description touts a “young business,” and your CV mentions attributes like “young,” “enthusiastic,” and “outgoing,” the AI might award points for the term “young.”

It’s a point worth considering as the use of AI ATS platforms isn’t without its pitfalls. Some of the major players have faced controversies involving discrimination, and I’ve heard of companies adopting AI ATS, only to discontinue its use due to concerns about discrimination and suboptimal candidate selection.

In essence, there is undoubtedly a place for AI ATS platforms, even for positions as unconventional as bus drivers (no offense meant – my own uncle was a bus driver, and he was a great man). However, the key is to approach their use with discernment, recognizing both their benefits and potential drawbacks in the hiring process.”

The Human Touch

While ATS plays a vital role in the initial screening, it’s crucial to remember that the ultimate decision lies with human recruiters. After your CV passes through the digital gatekeeper, it will be reviewed by professionals who evaluate not only your qualifications but also your personality and fit for the company culture.

Final Thoughts

In today’s job market, your CV is your passport to career opportunities. To increase your chances of passing through the digital gatekeeper, tailor your CV for AI screening ATS. By understanding how these systems work and making your CV ATS-friendly, you can ensure that your application stands out in the digital crowd and reaches the hands of the hiring manager. In this digital age, embracing technology and optimizing your CV for AI screening is a strategic move that can open doors to your dream job.

For more insights and discussions on recruitment and career development, feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn under “Wesley Plumb.”