How To Get Your CV Past the Robots

Ever get the feeling that the CVs you send potential employers don’t even get looked at? That could be because they’re not. Screening software can filters out applications that don’t appear to meet the job criteria, so you’ll need to be savvy if you want your CV to be seen.

Follow these 15 tips and you could inch your way closer to an interview by barging past the digital doormen.

Applicant Tracking System (ATS) – software that helps hirers by storing your CV in a searchable database by using a parser. An ATS can be very sophisticated or pretty primitive; your CV should get past both.

Parser – A software component that removes styling to leave strings of text which are machine readable.


  • Proofread carefully to avoid misspellings, especially on vital words such as job titles or skills. Don’t rely on a spellchecker.
  • Use a standard word format – not every ATS can handle PDFs.
  • Pick out important words from the job ad and use them (and variations of them) in your CV.
  • Use proper capitalisation so groups of words that are related to each other are recognised.
  • Use a standard font in black – Arial, Courier and Tahoma are ideal.
  • Remain consistent when reporting employment history – Company Name, Title, Location, and Date is a standard format.
  • Upload your CV instead of copy and pasting to ensure formatting is kept.
  • Use standard CV headings such as Summary, Work, Skills and Education


  • Use image files in place of text.
  • Use white font to include hidden keywords – some ATSs can see this invisible text and you’ll look like you’re trying to cheat the system.
  • Use unnecessary abbreviations that an ATS might not recognise. When using industry abbreviations, include the spelled-out version of the word in the first instance
  • Use special characters (plain bullet points are ok)
  • Use tables.
  • Put text in the header or footer – it may be ignored.
  • Submit multiple CVs to the same company for the same job – it can look like spam.

Getting your CV past the ATS and into the hands of the hiring manager is only step 1. You’ll still need to make sure your CV is fit for human eyes, and if invited for an interview, you’ll need to impress in person.

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