You might be perfect for the role, but if your CV never makes it to the recruiter, that really doesn’t matter.
As hiring professionals increasingly rely on ATSs to help them manage applications, you need a tailored CV that will beat the bots and get in front of the recruiter.
To help you do this, we’ve created an ATS-friendly CV example and writing guide. Check out our top tips for utilising keywords and formatting your CV correctly.
ATS Friendly CV example
Unsure of what your ATS Friendly CV should look like?
Have a look at the CV example above to get familiar with the structure, layout and format of a professional CV.
How to write an ATS friendly CV
Application tracking systems (ATS) are increasingly being used by recruiters to scan and sort CVs during the recruitment process. This software is used to review and organise applications before they make it to the recruiter, saving them time and cutting out any irrelevant CVs.
The problem is, if you don’t optimise your CV for the ATS, it can become lost in cyberspace and never be seen by the recruiter, even if you’re a perfect fit for the role.
So, knowing how to write an ATS-friendly CV is crucial if you want to secure an interview. To ensure the ATS can scan and understand your application, you need to:
- Use the right keywords – When hiring for a position, recruiters will feed specific keywords into the ATS, and the software will scan your application for these words or phrases. The best way to find out what keywords you need to target is to look through the job description, then select the keywords that are relevant to you and pepper these throughout your CV.
- Don’t include graphics or images – It’s important that you only use text in your CV, as many ATSs cannot read images or graphics. You can still include elements like basic bullet points; just don’t try to be quirky by using symbols or images, as the software may not be able to translate these.
- Choose a simple layout – You might think that adding personality and style to your CV can grab the recruiter’s attention, but this is not the case if it gets rejected by the ATS. Therefore it’s best to avoid text boxes or fancy headings and, instead, stick to a simple layout.
- Select the right file format – Finally, you need to make sure you choose an appropriate file format that can be easily read by the ATS. We suggest you stick to a simple file format like a PDF or a Word document.
ATS Friendly CV structure & formatting
Recruiters and employers are busy, and if they can’t find the information they’re looking for in a few seconds, it could be game over for your application.
You need to format and structure your CV in a way which allows the reader to pick out your key information with ease, even if they’re strapped for time.
It should be clear, easily legible, well-organised and scannable – check out some simple tips and tricks below:
How to format your CV
- Length: Two sides of A4 makes for the the perfect CV length, though one page is okay for less experienced applicants. This forces you to make sure that every single sentence adds value to your CV and ensures you avoid waffle.
- Readability: Recruiters appreciate CVs that they can quickly scan through without trouble. Ensure yours makes the cut by formatting your headings for attention (bold or coloured fonts should do the trick) and breaking up long paragraphs into smaller chunks or short, snappy bullet points.
- CV design: It’s generally best to stick to a simple CV design, as funky or elaborate designs rarely add any value to your application. A clear, modern font and a subtle colour scheme work perfectly and allow your skills, experience and achievements to speak for themselves.
- Photographs: You can add a profile photo to your CV, if you want to add some personality to it, but they are not a requirement the UK, so you don’t have to.
Quick tip: Creating a professional CV style can be difficult and time-consuming when using Microsoft Word or Google Docs. To create a winning CV quickly, try our partner’s CV builder and use one of their eye-catching professional CV templates.
Divide your CV into the following major sections when writing it:
- Name and contact details – Head your CV with your name and contact details, to let the reader know who you are and how to contact you.
- CV profile – A brief paragraph which summarises your skills and experience and highlights why you’re a good match for the role.
- Core skills list – A snappy, bullet-pointed list of your most relevant skills.
- Work experience – A structured list of your work experience in reverse chronological order.
- Education – A summary of any relevant qualifications or professional training you’ve completed.
- Hobbies and interests – An optional section, which should only be used if your hobbies are relevant to the jobs you’re applying to.
Now, let’s take a closer look at what you should include in each section of your CV.
CV Contact Details
Begin by sharing your contact details, so it’s easy for employers to give you a call.
Keep to the basics, such as:
- Mobile number
- Email address – It should sound professional, with no slang or nicknames. Make a new one for your job applications if necessary.
- Location – Simply share your vague location, for example ‘Manchester’, rather than a full address.
- LinkedIn profile or portfolio URL – Remember to update them before you send your application.
ATS Friendly CV Profile
Grab the reader’s attention by kick-starting your CV with a powerful profile (or personal statement, if you’re a junior applicant).
This is a short introduction paragraph which summarises your skills, knowledge and experience.
It should paint you as the perfect match for the job description and entice recruiters to read through the rest of your CV.
CV profile writing tips:
- Make it short and sharp: The best CV profiles are short, sharp and highly relevant to the target role. For this reason, it’s best to write 3-4 lines of high-level information, as anything over might be missed.
- Tailor it: Not tailoring your profile (and the rest of your CV) to the role you’re applying for, is the worst CV mistake you could make. Before setting pen to paper, look over the job ad and make a note of the skills and experience required. Then, incorporate your findings throughout.
- Don’t add an objective: Want to talk about about your career goals and objectives? While the profile may seem like a good space to do so, they’re actually much better suited to your cover letter.
- Avoid generic phrases: Focus on fact, not fluff. Phrases like “Committed and enthusiastic thought-leader” and “Dynamic problem solver” might sound fancy, but they’ll do nothing for your application. Not only do they sound cheesy, but they have no substance – stick to real skills and facts
Example CV profile for an ATS Friendly CV
What to include in your ATS Friendly CV profile?
- Summary of experience: Demonstrate your suitability for your target jobs by giving a high level summary of your previous work work experience, including the industries you have worked in, types of employer, and the type of roles you have previous experience of.
- Relevant skills: Make your most relevant key skills clear in your profile. These should be tailored to the specific role you’re applying for – so make sure to check the job description first, and aim to match their requirements as closely as you can.
- Vital qualifications: Be sure to outline your relevant qualifications, so that any software reading the CV can instantly see you are qualified for the jobs you are applying to.
Quick tip: If you are finding it difficult to write an attention-grabbing CV profile, choose from hundreds of pre-written profiles across all industries, and add one to your CV with one click in our partner’s CV builder. All profiles are written by recruitment experts and easily tailored to suit your unique skillset.
Core skills section
In addition to your CV profile, your core skills section provides an easily digestible snapshot of your skills – perfect for grabbing the attention of busy hiring managers.
As the jobs you are applying for might receive a huge pile of applications, this is a great way to stand out and show off your suitability for the role.
It should be made up of 2-3 columns of bullet points and be made up of skills that are highly relevant to the jobs you are targeting.
Vital skills for your ATS Friendly CV
Corporate accounting – managing the accounts for companies of various sizes.
Business acumen – understanding and managing business situations in a way that is likely to lead to a positive outcome.
Financial analysis – assessing the viability, stability and profitability of the business or an individual project or department.
Regulatory compliance – ensuring adherence with all regulatory processes and procedures.
Budgetary management – overseeing and tracking income and expenditure.
Quick tip: Our partner’s CV builder has thousands of in-demand skills for all industries and professions, that can be added to your CV in seconds – This will save you time and ensure you get noticed by recruiters.
Your work experience section
By now, you’ll have hooked the reader’s attention and need to show them how you apply your skills and knowledge in the workplace, to benefit your employers.
So, starting with your most recent role and working backwards to your older roles, create a thorough summary of your career history to date.
If you’ve held several roles and are struggling for space, cut down the descriptions for your oldest jobs.
Structuring each role
Your work experience section will be long, so it’s important to structure it in a way which helps recruiters to quickly and easily find the information they need.
Use the 3-step structure, shown in the below example, below to achieve this.
Firstly, give the reader some context by creating a punchy summary of the job as a whole.
You should mention what the purpose or goal of your role was, what team you were part of and who you reported to.
Using easy-to-read bullet points, note down your day-to-day responsibilities in the role.
Make sure to showcase how you used your hard sector skills and knowledge.
Finish off by showcasing 1-3 key achievements made within the role.
This could be anything that had a positive effect on your company, clients or customers, such as saving time or money, receiving exemplary feedback or receiving an award.
Sample job description for your ATS Friendly CV
Working for a market-leading manufacturing business based in Coventry, reporting to the Financial Controller. Responsible for management accounts, budgeting, and forecasting, alongside understanding operational variances and driving positive financial outcomes for the business.
- Manage and support the Finance Team of 3 including mentoring, training, and supporting personal development
- Work with the Finance Team to ensure accounts are closed in line with the month-end deadline and ensure that any profit and loss performance issues are fully understood
- Manage subsidiary working capital in areas including aged debt and cash flow forecasting
- Reconcile and resolve any balance sheet issues to ensure accuracy and timeliness of profit and loss performance
Quick tip: Create impressive job descriptions easily in our partner’s CV builder by adding pre-written job phrases for every industry and career stage.
Education and qualifications section
Next up, you should list your education and qualifications.
This can include your formal qualifications (a degree, A-Levels and GCSEs), as well as sector-specific qualifications and/or training.
While school leavers and recent grads should include a lot of detail here to make up for the lack of work experience, experienced candidates may benefit from a shorter education section, as your work experience section will be more important to recruiters.
Hobbies and interests
The hobbies and interests CV section isn’t mandatory, so don’t worry if you’re out of room by this point.
However, if you have an interesting hobby, or an interest that could make you seem more suitable for the role, then certainly think about adding.
Be careful what you include though… Only consider hobbies that exhibit skills that are required for the roles you are applying for, or transferable workplace skills.
There is never any need to tell employers that you like to watch TV and eat out.
Writing your ATS Friendly CV
A strong, compelling CV is essential to get noticed and land interviews with the best employers.
To ensure your CV stands out from the competition, make sure to tailor it to your target role and pack it with sector-specific skills and results.
Remember to triple-check for spelling and grammar errors before hitting send.
Good luck with the job search!