Getting your CV - ATS friendly! > Post > Blog

Getting your CV - ATS friendly!

Career Development / Career Growth, CV / Resume.   Wednesday, Feb 9, 2022

Rovina V


What a lot of hopeful job seekers don’t realize is that 75% of job applications get lost in the ‘black hole’ of an Applicant Tracking System (ATS), before it is even seen by the human eye.

So how can you ensure your CV or resume is ATS-friendly?

First of all, what in the world is an applicant tracking system or ATS?

An ATS is a type of software that companies deploy to fast track their recruitment process and make it much easier. An applicant tracking system collects scans and rates candidate profiles before sharing them with a recruiter. Essentially, it was designed for large companies that receive several thousand job applications or CVs on a regular basis.

Today, 99% of Fortune 500 companies and most large companies rely on an ATS to help make their recruitment process easier! This is common in Sri Lanka too.

So, how does an ATS work?

Did you know that a corporate job posting receives around 250 job applications on average? Only about 4-6 will be contacted for an interview out of these. This means that larger companies, usually receive up to 50 – 75k resumes each week.

So, most large organizations use Applicant Tracking Systems as a part of their recruitment process.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), or resume-filtering bots are the gatekeepers for employers, only allowing the best quality CVs to pass. Unfortunately, that also means that if a resume is not well written and formatted correctly, with the requirements of an ATS in mind, even the best of candidates could easily be rejected automatically by the system.

So, here’s how to write an ATS-friendly resume:

The resume black hole is very real! At least 75% of resumes that pass through Applicant Tracking Systems, will never be seen by human eyes.

Therefore, it’s important that you learn how to beat the bots.

Some common mistakes seen on a lot of resumes include the below:

  • 25% have buried contact information in the header

  • Use of fancy templates that get scrambled when put onto systems/downloaded

  • 21% include infographics and charts that are difficult to read

  • 43% send their resumes in incompatible file types

  • And most importantly, a lot of people forget or omit important keywords that would have increased their chances of being approved by an ATS.

So here are few tips to ensure your resume is ATS-compliant!

Ensure you submit your CV in the right file type

And this could sometimes, not be PDF! While PDF documents preserve the formatting and design of a CV, they might not be compatible with some ATS software. So check the requested file type, and in situations where it is not specified, stick with a .doc or .docx format on Word.

Most platforms are unable to read and parse information stored in the header and or footer. Unfortunately this is also where most people choose to place their most important, contact details such as Name, phone number or email address. Avoid the same fate and stay clear of this!

Use keywords to optimize your CV

This is one of the most important tips to get your resume ATS-approved! Unlike the use of ‘buzzwords’ like motivated or energized or even proactive, keywords represent all the skills, expertise and qualifications you have acquired that qualify you for the job opening.

Start by referring to the job description or job advertisement posted by the company and notice the words frequently used or highlighted and incorporate them into your CV. Some ATS will evaluate the strength of your skills, basis the number of times it is mentioned in your resume, while other ATS evaluate the placement of your skills in your resume to identify the length of your experience.

You would want to optimize your resume for either of these systems by creating a ‘Core Competencies’ or ‘Areas of Expertise’ section within your summary that lists your skills down. Ensure that abbreviations are also shared with their full-term, for example, SEO should also be mentioned as Search Engine Optimization. Then, mention these same terms in your Education or Work Experience sections wherever appropriate and true.

Less complications the better

While infographics, graphics and images look great on a CV and makes information visually appealing and easy to digest to a human eye, embedded graphics can really confuse a robot and completely omit your application! If you use a unique font or a cool graphic to brand your name or anywhere on your CV, you stand the risk of the ATS losing either a piece of information or your entire CV altogether.

Stick to bullet points and avoid intricate symbols. Use a clean design for your resume with a clear structure. Less is always more! Not only do complicated designs mess with the acceptance framework on an ATS, but it also can be pretty annoying to a recruiter who just wants to get their job done faster.

In addition to following the above, there are many free resume checkers that allow you to evaluate the feasibility of your CV on an ATS.

One such platform is

Jobscan gives you feedback and tips on how to optimize your CV for ATS and also tells you how your profile stands compared to others on LinkedIn as well.

Remember to scan your CV using such a tool before applying for top jobs in Sri Lanka.

Did you find our article useful? Subscribe to the Careers360 blog now to get the latest insights right to your inbox. Also don’t forget to sign up on to find your lucky break through headhunting or applying for the latest job openings in Sri Lanka!