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Published: October 15, 2021

Beat the Frustration of Application Auto-Filtering – Part 2

Author: Beatrice Roets

In part one of this blog we discussed the existence of Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) and the frustration they can cause if your application for your dream job literally falls through the digital cracks.

By far the best advice we can give on getting past auto-filtering bots with your application is to ANSWER THE BRIEF. Make sure your cover letter and especially your CV is simple, to the point and that it addresses the requirements from the job ad.

How to answer the brief in your application:

  1. Carefully tailor your CV for every application. Make sure you clearly note the qualifications, job titles, skills, experience and achievements as listed in the job advertisement.
  2. Optimise your CV and cover letter to make it as simple as possible for the ATS to rank your application accurately. Take note of the following:
    1. Make your CV as clear, short and user-friendly as possible. Imagine yourself reading through hundreds just like yours. What would you like to see and how would you prefer the layout?
    1. Use the exact keywords as it is written in the job application where applicable and possible.
    1. Use both the long and acronym forms of key terminology like “SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)” and “MBA (Master of Business Administration)”.
    1. Use standard and clear section headings like “Work Experience”, “Achievements” and “Key Skills” as opposed to being clever with language.
    1. Avoid using tables, columns, fancy fonts, and headers and footers in your document. These are the types of formatting that could cause parsing errors and have information get lost.
    1. Save your file as a MS Word (.docx) file if possible or Export/Save As a standard PDF.
    1. NOTE: Do not try to cheat the system or over-use keywords. Remember that if you pass the bot, an actual human must make sense of your application. It still needs to be truthful, easy to read and clear.

The best chance of an application getting past the pesky computer software and landing you an interview is a hybrid application of a well-written CV, being mindful that an auto-filtering bot AND a human will be “reading it”.

Another tip: if the advertisement of your dream job includes the name and contact details of the recruiter or hiring manager with the invitation to “please contact Karen Smith on this number or email address for a confidential conversation…”, do it. Especially if your specific qualifications, skills or experience deviates from the requirements of the ad, but it’s something you can explain or elaborate on with a human.

Last tip: Don’t be discouraged by unsuccessful applications. You will rarely know what exactly the prospective employer has in mind with filling a role. Sometimes the ATS even has high-scoring hidden keywords, and there is nothing you can do about it. If you’ve done all you can to submit the best application you can: Que será, será. Keep your eyes open for something better. It might be just over the horizon.

Do you have an unconventional, hard-to-find or unique skills set that makes applying for a job harder than it’s supposed to be? KoruTalent offers an exclusive service where we consult with you, assist you on how to best position yourself and then actively market you to the employers, industries and/or locations where you want to be. Read more here.

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