CV, ATS & landing your next job



Did you know a human eye ball may never read your CV? Have you ever heard about an ATS?

Read on to get a better understanding on how to win in the battle against the algorithm.


Do you know what an ATS is and how it relates to your job search?

Allow HappyJobsNI to explain and we promise not to use any more industry jargon in this post!


ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System and is a tool that recruiters and hiring managers use to rank the applications they receive. The scoring is based on the keywords, or to put it another way, the criteria for the job.


If you do not tell your own professional story, without referencing the key words in a job description, you are unlikely to make the selection cut for interview. As you can imagine, sometimes top candidates can slip through the cracks.


Companies use an ATS to automate parts of the recruitment process, as with any software, there is a cost associated with running one, so not every company can afford them. For an HR person without an ATS, there is a lot of manual sifting through applications, so make sure you stand out in your opening paragraph. Make it interesting enough for someone to keep reading.

If you are applying through an online form, you will be filtered through an ATS. Global web brands like LinkedIn and Indeed have their own in built ATS and if you have any specific job alerts set up, this is the computer wizardry at work.


2020 saw a significant increase in the numbers of applications being received for open roles, it was a saturated market. The sad reality for job seekers is the majority of them will be ranked by an algorithm, not by human eyeballs.


Will 2021 be different? We think it will remain highly competitive for the next few months. Let's assume the various vaccines being released into the public domain protect the most vulnerable in society, allowing lockdown measures to be eased. This should lead to an increase in confidence for companies and encourage them to hire easing the competition for candidates.

What can you do about this?


Our advice at HappyJobsNI is to tailor your CV to the job specification, without lying obviously. Re-write your CV to ensure you stand the best chance of being short listed by a computer program. Remember back to the time when you were doing exams and your teacher gave you the advice, “answer the question that is being asked". Carefully review each and every job description, each bullet point under Essential and Desirable criteria and then talk about your personal experience with these.


Do not undersell yourself either, you may have never been in a sales role in your career, but remember you are selling yourself, your brand. You need to stand out so be bold, but don't bluff. Use positive language to talk about your professional achievements, backing these up with numbers, where possible.

Unfortunately, the devastating effects of the pandemic last year, mean many applications are arriving in inboxes from candidates who are unqualified for the advert, desperate to get their next role.


Stay positive in your job search. Use your network and reach out to those people you worked with a few years ago or met in a queue at a conference. Ask for help and you will get there.


Lastly, we would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year from all of us at HappyJobsNI!