7 Tips for an ATS-Friendly CV and Cover Letter

A candidate’s abilities, job description, and academic history are searched for in a curriculum vitae (CV) and cover letter using an applicant tracking system (ATS) — a software application. You must make your CV and cover letter ATS-compliant if you want to enhance your odds of clearing the ATS check. 

Since today, companies of all sizes — including over 98% of Fortune Companies — use an ATS, making your CVs ATS-compliant is crucial.

In this post, we’ll offer tips on how to design your resumes and cover letters to pass the ATS compliance check.

7 pointers for writing ATS-compliant CVs and cover letters

You should take into account a few of the possible mistakes that ATSs might miss while writing an ATS-compliant CV. Below are seven pointers to help you get your CV on the correct course to prevent this:

1. Select the appropriate CV and cover letter file format

Even while PDF does a great job of protecting data files without affecting the accuracy of the content, it occasionally may not operate with an ATS. Different kinds of monitoring software exist, however not all of them support PDFs. 

Be mindful to double-check the list of permitted file types while submitting your resume or cover letter. Submit a .doc or .docx edition in its place if PDF isn’t listed as an acceptable choice.

Reverse chronological is another format that’s the simplest for ATSs to comprehend. By placing your professional experience near the top of the document, this approach highlights it. Next, it ranks your experience in the order of relevance, from greatest to lowest. Employers favor this style the most as well.

Another tip is to go through the most recent cover letter examples 2023 – to check which formats are in trend now. The research will help you to find out fresh ways to organize your cover letter and resume.

It will additionally enable you to discover ideas about how to phrase particular sentences to highlight your skills – while boosting your self-assurance when submitting a cover letter to a potential employer.

2. Put keyword optimization to use.

An ATS will look for particular keywords that the employer has defined throughout the employee scanning phase. Without these phrases, applications are frequently discarded.

Reading the position description included in the posting is among the greatest ways to decide what terms to utilize. Search for words that are used frequently in the text that are role-specific. Give a particular term greater weight in your CV the more popular it is.

Use keywords appropriately throughout your CV and cover letter, but don’t overdo them. ATS resumes should be optimized with precise, pertinent language, but they should also read organically and correctly.

3. Make use of templates that enable ATSs to track applicants better

Templates for CVs and cover letters — which are ATS-friendly—  are made to facilitate application processes by making it easier for the software to track applicants better.

However, even if you follow industry standards and include the appropriate keyword phrases on your job application, you could still fall short of the requirements imposed by the ATS. Such programs analyze the words in your CV and incorporate useful data into an account.

You can prevent such errors by utilizing a template. Many templates are pre-formatted having ATS requirements in mind, grouping information into categories – based on relevant search terms and rendering the data more digestible altogether.

4. Adapt your CV to each company’s needs.

It’s crucial to create a CV and cover letter that passes the screening stage and goes directly to the prospective employer – since ATSs are now so widely used now. But how can you get past the company’s ATS tech? 

For each position, you compete for, make a unique CV that emphasizes the keywords from the job description and is formatted such that a robot can easily understand it. Because they can represent core values, abilities, expertise, education, qualifications, or any type of credential, keywords will show in all parts of your CV and cover letter.

5. Omit fancy details and visuals

Pictures, graphs, as well as other visuals, can’t be read by ATS. By displaying their abilities in diagrams or tabular forms, some applicants demonstrate their competence levels in specific areas. 

This content can only be recorded by an ATS when it’s also written in a textual format in a different section. These ought to be avoided to the greatest extent possible while selecting or constructing an ATS-compliant CV or cover letter.

When creating your CV or cover letter, stay away from complex formatting. Keep in mind that the ATS technology will quickly review your document. Simple CVs always are ATS-compliant.

You must take a few modifications into account when writing your CV for ATS. For instance, most ATSs are unable to correctly read and comprehend things in headers and footers, which are frequently used to include contact details.

6. Use only straightforward points, headings, and fonts

When utilized properly, bullet points serve as an excellent way to draw attention to achievements and credentials on a cover letter or CV. But if you pick a complicated icon for the bullets, your key selling points can get mixed up. 

When developing a bulleted listing on an ATS-compliant template, stay away from employing complicated characters. Keep things simple by using shapes like solid circles, open circles, or squares.

Simple, easy-to-read typefaces are usually ATS-friendly. They include Georgia, Arial, Calibri, Cambria, and Garamond. Depending on the font style you choose, the size ought to be somewhere around 10 to 12 points.

Cross-check that the headings for your sections — such as “Employment Details,” “Academics,” and “Skills”— are accurate. In addition to the precise key phrases, an ATS will scan these parts and perform an evaluation of what’s included there.

Resist using initialisms, acronyms, or abbreviations like BE as well. Make careful to utilize the complete word, such as Bachelor of Engineering, if you’re using them.

7. Perform an ATS-resume compliance test

During your job hunt, there’s a simple way to check if your CV or cover letter is ATS-compatible. Make a plain-text version out of your document. How do you do this? Copy the information from your CV that is ATS-friendly. 

Paste this content on a plain-text file, and evaluate the outcomes. The plain-text edition of your CV or cover letter will likely need to be edited before it can be ATS-compatible – when it lacks certain information from your source file, has letters saved erroneously, or appears chaotic. 

You’ll get comments on the content and ATS compliance of your CV – which you can use to enhance your document’s compliance level.

Use a tidy layout with a distinct hierarchy for ATS-compliant CVs and cover letters

Less is better when it concerns the style of your ATS-friendly CV or cover letter. Complicated designs or atypical layouts irritate recruiters – who have a habit of swiftly reviewing a portfolio for precise data they anticipate finding in particular parts inside the statement. 

Complex layouts additionally confuse most ATSs. Hence, remember – for successfully passing the ATS scan, always stick to simplicity, facts, and conciseness.

Author bio

Atreyee Chowdhury is a freelance content writer with more than 10+ years of professional experience. She is passionate about helping SMBs and enterprises achieve their content marketing goals with her carefully crafted and compelling content. She loves to read, travel, and experiment with different cuisines in her free time. You can follow her on LinkedIn.