Discover How Your C.V Is Searched For


You’ve got the relevant qualifications, experience and key skills– why are other applicants receiving replies, but your inbox still echoes in unemployment wilderness?

It’s because of a little (well, considering the effect It has; maybe not so little) system called; get ready for the original name to end all original names:

The Applicant Tracking System (ATS).

I know, a well applied title.

Let’s jump in, one applicant at a time, and talk more about the ATS (thank god for abbreviations).

“Who. Wants. To Applyyyyy – foreverrrr”

 Sang Freddie Mercury and Queen (well, maybe they didn’t…).

But the feeling of that 86’ belter of a tune connects with the thoughts of this article.


Caption: They certainly didn't apply forever...image from


Those thoughts being despair and introspective feelings of doing the same thing over. And over. And over. And over.

Without the possibility of changing your situation. This situation being unemployment. Not the immortal lives of sword-wielders in Highlander (fun fact: Brian May began the song whilst in a cab on the way home from their first viewing of the movie; before general release to the public).

The reason behind your constant return of virtually flung curriculum vitae's?

It’s all in the skills section; or qualifications; or experience; or specific words not used – usually titled keywords.

To be clear, the ATS is the general system that is employed by employers; but there are different companies selling the system and different ways the search parameters can be tailored to the customer (I.E. employers) requirements. Effectively, it sorts the wants from the not-so-wants of the employer looking to fill a position. Or, as Jobvite put it:

“[A]Robust Hiring Software That Helps You Manage the Entire Process” click here for

 “It’s just a little job search – job search – job searchhhh” 

I sincerely apologise to all Queen – in-fact, all music fans, for my clear and concentrated cleaving of these songs.

Despite the myriad of options when it comes to an ATS, the basic premise and action behind it remains the same.

It’s there to scythe through C.V’s that don’t cut the onion.

Image from Click here for the site.

And that knife cutting that onion might need a whole host of things before it’s sharp enough to cut those layers – and do it before you start crying (Fun, kind-a unrelated fact: scientists have developed an onion that tastes the same. Looks the same. But, and here’s the unreal-behind-the-scenes footage reel: it doesn’t make you cry. I know. Life changed.).

Here’s a list, depending on the cut the employer wants, why your C.V. might be crying back:

·        Experience: employer wants 15 years copywriting experience but you’ve just left uni. Sorry, no response (having felt the sting of ‘lack’ of experience – despite my degrees proudly plastered on my C.V - I know how this one can infuriate)

·        Key Skills: didn't include key skills that match the role spec skills? Then your curriculum vitae will sit in the virtual waiting room without ever being ushered in by the receptionist (Shame, it had it’s best suit on too)

·        Keywords: this one underpins the other three and can stand alone. If an employer specifies ‘team-worker’ as their primary keyword. Any C.V without it on, even if other points of the search have been met, won’t appear in the employer’s list. Or, if it does, it will be so excruciatingly low that the likelihood of a concentrated view will be minimal or zero.

 Think logical. Not Emotional.

So you might be asking – where has the human interaction and the chance to sell myself at the interview stage gone?

Well, it’s not gone anywhere.

But employers, recruiters; and any business big enough to afford an ATS - just don’t have the time to sift through each application.

Some businesses receive hundreds of applications - some get thousands.

Behind each recruitment process, even with the ATS (especially with it, come to think of it), are people just like me. And just like you. They only have so much energy and time within a day to manage a position search and focus on their role. So, to cut this out and make the search as seamless as possible – whilst only generating the most qualified/experienced/key-skilled/keyword-matching candidates – they employ an ATS.

It's you using Google to sift through the thousands of articles about Applicant Tracking Systems to get to this one (awwww, thank you!).

You probably are the most charming person in an interview, but if you don’t match the employers tailored C.V search. You probably won’t be getting an email or call.

You’re my best applicant

So, how do you give yourself and your curriculum vitae the best chance of topping that employer search, via their ATS specifications?

You study the role spec; key skills; qualifications; and experience of the role you’re applying for until you can recite them backwards.

Well, maybe not backwards - but I think you get the point.

Just as the employer’s tailored their search; tailor your c.v. to align with the role specification.

If jobs require experience in cutting onions without crying? Then you guessed it. Either buy a batch of those un-teary onions developed by science; or, show that via your qualifications, experience; key skills; and, most importantly, keywords; that if onions need cutting – you've got the perfect tool for the job; and it's on your C.V.

Happy searching!

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Posted 4 months ago