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Job Seekers: How to Beat CV Screening Software Impacts

CV Screening Software: What Job Seekers Should Know. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) and how they impact the job search process.

Recruitment: What Role Does CV Screening Software Play?

In this post, we’re going to dive deep into the world of applicant tracking systems (ATS) and how they impact the job search process. But don’t worry, we’re going to keep it light! After all, job hunting can be stressful enough without boring jargon-filled articles, am I right?

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Statistics Illustrating the widespread use of CV Screening Software:

  1. According to a survey by CareerBuilder, 75% of job seekers reported encountering ATSs during their job search.
  2. A study by Jobscan found that over 98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATSs to manage their recruitment process.
  3. In a survey of over 400 HR professionals by Software Advice, 94% reported that their organization uses an ATS.
  4. A report by Capterra found that the use of ATSs among small businesses (those with less than 50 employees) has increased by 29% since 2015.
  5. LinkedIn’s 2018 Global Recruiting Trends report found that the use of new technology like ATSs was the top trend among talent acquisition professionals.

These statistics demonstrate that ATSs are widely used by companies of all sizes and across all industries. As a job seeker, it’s important to understand how these systems work and how to optimize your CV to increase your chances of getting past the initial screening stage.

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Job Seekers Must Befriend CV Screening Software

Let’s make friends with those applicant tracking systems (ATS) buggers and craft a CV that doesn’t get you kicked out. I’ll tell you what, it’s not always easy, but with a little bit of finesse and some creative thinking, you can definitely win over those digital gatekeepers.

First things first, you’ve got to understand that these ATS are basically the bouncers at the club, and your CV is your VIP pass. So, just like when you’re trying to get past a bouncer who’s being a bit difficult, you need to know the tricks of the trade.

1. You must ensure your CV is formatted in a way that’s easy for the ATS to read.

Use simple fonts and stick to traditional formatting. No fancy graphics or wacky colours, okay? The ATS doesn’t care about your artistic flair, it just wants to know if you’re a good fit for the job.

2. Next up, make sure you’re using the right keywords.

This is where you get a little naughty. Go ahead and sneak some industry jargon into your CV. Sprinkle in a few buzzwords here and there. The ATS will eat that stuff up. Just don’t go overboard, or you’ll end up looking like a total tool.

3. Tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for.

This is where you can get a little funny. Think of your CV like a pick-up line. You wouldn’t use the same line on every person you meet, would you? Of course not! You’ve got to customize your approach. The same goes for your CV. Show the ATS that you’re serious about this job by crafting a CV that speaks directly to the role you’re applying for.

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That’s it. The key to making friends with ATS:

  1. Keep it simple.
  2. Use the right keywords, and
  3. Tailor your CV to the job you’re applying for.

Example: Check out these terms for retail.

career portfolio

Job Applicants can Punch Back with ChatGPT

Read how you can use technology to beat the ATS: ChatGPT for Job Applications.

Ready to dive deeper now? Let’s do it!

What is CV Screening Software?

Let’s start with the basics. CV screening software, also known as applicant tracking systems, are software programs that help employers manage the hiring process. They allow companies to collect, sort, and filter job applications automatically, saving them time and resources.

So, how do these programs work, you ask? Well, they scan the content of your CV for keywords and phrases that match the job description. If your CV meets the requirements, it gets passed along to the human hiring manager for further review. If not, it gets sucked into the digital blackness, never to be seen again.

Examples of CV Tracking Systems:

  1. Recruiterbox –
  2. JobAdder –
  3. TalentLyft –
  4. CATS Applicant Tracking System –
  5. Greenhouse –
  6. Lever –

The Importance of ATS-Friendly CVs

Now, here’s the thing: if you want to get hired, you’ve got to make sure your CV is ATS-friendly. What does that mean? Well, it means creating a CV that’s easy for the software to read and understand.

Use the same language and phrases as the job description in your CV. This will help the software recognize that you’re a good fit for the position.

How to Optimize Your CV for Screening Software

As an internet user, you’ve probably heard the term ‘SEO’ (Search Engine Optimisation). If you search for brick you don’t want to be directed to diamonds, right? You use the most optimal words to drive the most optimal results. Optimisation means making the most of something and applying logical rules to increase (optimise) results.

Now let’s go over how to optimize your CV for screening software.

I want you to nail, no crucify ATS, by doing this:

  1. Use Simple Formatting As we mentioned earlier, you want to make sure your CV is in a format that the software can read. Stick to basic fonts like Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman. Use standard headings like Education, Work Experience, and Skills. And avoid graphics, images, and tables as much as possible.
  2. Use Relevant Keywords When crafting your CV, make sure to include relevant keywords and phrases. You can find these in the job description. Don’t just copy and paste the entire description, but make sure you’re using similar language and phrasing. This will help the software recognize that you’re a good match for the job.
  3. Tailor Your CV Each job application is unique, so you should tailor your CV to each job you apply for. This means adjusting your CV to highlight your relevant skills and experience for each role. Use the job description as a guide, and make sure to incorporate the language and keywords into your CV.
  4. Proofread Your CV Always proofread your CV before submitting it. Not only will this help catch any spelling or grammar errors, but it will also ensure that your CV is easy for the software to read. Avoid fancy formatting or unique layouts, and keep things simple and straightforward.

The Dos and Don’ts of Creating an ATS-Friendly CV

Now that you know how to optimize your CV for screening software, let’s go over some dos and don’ts when creating an ATS-friendly CV.


  • Use simple formatting: Stick to basic fonts, headings, and formatting that the software can easily read.
  • Include relevant keywords: Use relevant keywords and phrases from the job description to show that you’re a good match.
  • Tailor your CV: Customize your CV to match the job description and emphasize your relevant skills and experience.
  • Use bullet points: Bullet points are easier for the software to read and make your CV more scannable.
  • Keep it concise: Stick to two pages or less and focus on your most relevant experience and achievements.


  • Use fancy formatting: The software can’t read fancy fonts or graphics, so keep it simple and straightforward.
  • Overuse keywords: Don’t stuff your CV with keywords just to get past the software. It won’t work, and you’ll look like you’re trying too hard.
  • Lie or exaggerate: Don’t lie about skills or experience just to match the job description. Not only is it unethical, but it’s also likely to get caught in the human review process.
  • Use tables or columns: The software can’t read tables or columns, so stick to bullet points instead.
  • Submit a PDF: While PDFs may look more professional, some ATSs have trouble reading them. Check the advert instructions, if unsure stick to Word or plain text formats instead. Or even send 2 versions.

Tips for Tailoring Your CV to Job Descriptions

Now that you know the importance of tailoring your CV to each job description, let’s go over some tips for doing it effectively.

  1. Read the Job Description Carefully Before you start tailoring your CV, make sure you understand the job description inside and out. Highlight the most important skills, experience, and qualifications, and make note of any specific language or keywords used.
  2. Customize Your CV Headline One easy way to tailor your CV is to customize your headline or summary statement. Use the language and keywords from the job description to show that you’re a good match for the role.
  3. Emphasize Relevant Skills and Experience When customizing your CV, focus on the skills and experience that are most relevant to the job. Use the same language and keywords from the job description to show that you have the skills they’re looking for.
  4. Highlight Achievements When listing your work experience, highlight your achievements rather than just listing your job duties. This will show the employer that you’re results-oriented and have a track record of success.
  5. Use Action Words When describing your experience and achievements, use action words to show what you did and how you did it. This will make your CV more dynamic and engaging.

Useful Posts to Help You Tailor Your CV and Overall Job Application

The Future of CV Screening Software: Trends to Watch Out For

As technology continues to advance, so too does CV screening software. Here are some trends to watch out for in the coming years:

  1. Artificial Intelligence (AI) As AI technology continues to improve, we can expect to see more ATSs using machine learning algorithms to improve their accuracy and efficiency.
  2. Video Screening Some companies are now using video screening software to assess candidates’ soft skills and personality traits. This trend is likely to continue as remote work becomes more common.
  3. Social Media Screening Some employers are now using social media screening to evaluate candidates’ online presence and behaviour. This trend is controversial and raises questions about privacy and discrimination.

Common Myths About CV Screening Software Debunked

Now that we’ve covered the basics of CV screening software, let’s address some common myths and misconceptions:

Myth #1: ATSs eliminate all human interaction in the hiring process.

Fact: While ATSs can automate certain aspects of the hiring process, they don’t eliminate human interaction entirely. Once your CV passes the screening stage, a human recruiter will still review your CV and conduct interviews.

Myth #2: ATSs are biased against certain groups of people.

Fact: While ATSs can be programmed with biased language and algorithms, the software itself is not inherently biased. It’s up to the employers to ensure that their ATSs are free from bias and discrimination. South Africa ranks highly for inequality so don’t expect these ATSs to correct the bias and discrimination inherent in our society. We will need to keep track of developments and issues that arise.

Myth #3: ATSs are perfect and never make mistakes.

Fact: While ATSs can improve the efficiency of the hiring process, they’re not perfect and can still make mistakes. That’s why it’s important to tailor your CV to the job description and ensure that it’s easy for the software to read.

CV screening software is here to stay

job seekers need to adapt to ensure that their CVs get past the automated screening process. By optimizing your CV with relevant keywords and formatting, tailoring it to the job description, and staying up-to-date on the latest trends and best practices, you can increase your chances of landing your dream job.

FAQs: CV Screening Software and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS)

1. What is CV screening software?

CV screening software, also known as applicant tracking systems (ATS), is a tool used by employers to automate and streamline the initial screening process of job applications. It scans and analyzes resumes or CVs submitted by applicants, searching for specific keywords, qualifications, and experience relevant to the job position.

2. How does CV screening software work?

CV screening software uses algorithms to analyze resumes and CVs based on predefined criteria set by employers. It scans documents for keywords, skills, education, and other qualifications specified in the job description. The software then ranks and filters the applications, allowing recruiters to focus on the most promising candidates.

3. What are the benefits of using CV screening software?

Using CV screening software offers several benefits, such as:

  • Time savings: Automating the initial screening process helps reduce the time spent manually reviewing resumes.
  • Increased efficiency: ATS software can handle a large volume of applications quickly and accurately.
  • Improved candidate matching: By analyzing resumes against predefined criteria, ATS software identifies candidates who closely match the desired qualifications, enhancing the quality of the applicant pool.
  • Compliance and consistency: CV screening software ensures fair and consistent evaluation by applying the same criteria to all applicants.

4. Are there any limitations or challenges with CV screening software?

While CV screening software can be valuable, it’s important to be aware of potential limitations, such as:

  • Keyword dependency: The software relies heavily on keywords, which can result in overlooking candidates with relevant skills who may use different terminology.
  • False negatives: ATS software may incorrectly filter out qualified candidates if their resumes are not well-optimized for the system’s algorithms.
  • Lack of context: ATS software primarily focuses on quantifiable factors, potentially missing out on valuable qualitative information that could impact candidate suitability.
  • Bias concerns: If not carefully designed and managed, ATS software can perpetuate biases found in the job descriptions or previous data.

5. How can applicants optimize their resumes for CV screening software?

To increase the chances of passing through CV screening software, applicants can take the following steps:

  • Tailor resumes for specific job positions, using relevant keywords and phrases from the job description.
  • Use standard resume formats and avoid complex formatting or excessive graphics that may confuse the software.
  • Highlight relevant skills, experience, and qualifications clearly and concisely.
  • Avoid keyword stuffing and focus on providing substantive content that showcases abilities and achievements.
  • Proofread resumes carefully to eliminate typos or formatting errors that might affect readability.


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Leonie Hall

Leonie Hall, disruptive thinker and dynamic strategist, is an expert in education, development, quality management and innovation. She has spoken at local and international conferences; and currently works as an independent consultant and content developer. Contact Leonie for a consultation.

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