Do you know what to write in a CV to ensure it's 'ATS-friendly'? Find out with these tests.

How can I be certain that I have an 'ATS-friendly' CV?

'How do I know if my CV will get through the ATS (applicant tracking system)?' — Amer S.

Before you test how 'ATS-friendly' your CV is, be certain you are following these CV-writing best practices:

  1. Don't place important information such as your name, email address and phone number in the header or footer of your CV document. 

  2. Avoid using custom fonts, embedded images and unusual CV designs. They may be pleasing to the human eye, but they can create some serious issues for your CV when it passes through an employer's applicant tracking software.

  3. Optimise with keywords for your CV. You can find these in the job adverts that interest you, particularly in the 'Key skills' and 'Work history' sections.

Click on the following link for more tips on how to write an ATS-friendly CV.

How to determine if your CV will past the 'ATS-friendly' test

There are two simple ways to learn if your CV will be properly interpreted by an applicant tracking system.

Save your CV in plain text

Applicant tracking systems favour CVs with uncomplicated designs and a clear hierarchy of information. They often have trouble reading information contained within fancy design elements and images. When your CV passes through the ATS, these details will become garbled or will be entirely left out of your application entry in the system. 

To determine what information may become misplaced or eliminated after passing through this electronic net, copy and paste the information from your CV into a plain text file and then review the results. If the plain text version of your CV is missing details from your original document, if some of its characters have saved incorrectly or its information looks disorganised (e.g. the heading for your 'Education' section appears in the middle of your 'Job history' section), then you can be certain your CV did not pass the 'ATS-readability' test.

Request a free ATS scan

Professional CV-writing service TopCV offers a free ATS scan as part of its free CV review. In the first part of the review, you'll receive an objective look at your CV's strengths and areas for improvement from both content and design perspectives.

In the second part of the review, TopCV shows you exactly what information an ATS will pull from your CV, what information it will be unable to identify and retrieve (such as your name, contact information, most recent job title and most recent employer) and what top skills and keywords your CV currently ranks for. If the ATS is unable to recognise any of this important information or believes you're a fit for a job that you're not, then your CV did not pass the ATS-readability test.

Find out if your CV will pass the ATS test. Request a free review from TopCV today!

Amanda Augustine is a certified professional career coach (CPCC) and CV writer (CPRW) and the resident career expert for Talent Inc.'s suite of brands: TopResume, TopCV and TopInterview. On a regular basis, she answers user questions like the one above. Have a question? Take a look at her career advice or ask a question on her Quora page.

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