Does your CV appeal to humans and machines?

Published on: Aug 22, 2017

I’m not a huge fan of the Terminator films but I’m led to believe that the machines had taken over the world and good (or bad) old Arnie was sent back in time to alter history with Kyle Reese as his main adversary. Now I wouldn’t go as far as saying that the machines have quite taken over the world yet but we have definitely seen significant automation within the recruitment sector, which means your CV (and LinkedIn profile) need to appeal to both humans and the machine.

Having recently been invited to an exclusive presentation / conference call with LinkedIn themselves, I found it interesting that their search algorithm is very similar to that of Google, with keywords, content, video and articles, and who you are connected to all making a difference to how far up the rankings you appear when people search for people like you.


Likewise, CVs need to be optimised for Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) which are programmed to search for certain pieces of information that is then regurgitated and presented to the recruiter or hiring manager in a summarised format. What the ATS finds on your CV and presents to the recruiter might be completely different to your intended message depending on what headings you use and where you include certain pieces of information.

The bad news is that all ATS’ are programmed differently and the parameters that the company uses can vary dramatically; in short, you’ll never create a CV that works for every ATS. The good news however, is that there are some universally accepted techniques that will cater for most ATS’ such as making sure your headings use fairly bog standard wording, using a ‘true’ font such as Arial, adding in a key skills section, and making sure the CV repeats your keywords several times. Lots of graphics and an unusual layout will only hurt your chances, as innovative as your format may seem.

Other strategies include adding your job title after your name, adding ‘expert in’ to your Profile / Summary before a description of your value proposition and making sure you include a postcode on your address so that you are found in any geographical searches.

I should however point out that your CV needs to appeal to the human once it's passed through the ATS; there’s no point creating a CV with no formatting and just a sea of keywords – it may get past the ATS, it may even get past the recruiter but will it convince the hiring manager that you can add value in the role?

Why not request a free CV appraisal and we can give you some feedback on how ATS optimised your CV is.

Author: Matt Craven, Founder of the CV & Interview Advisors and Personal Branding expert