Why is your CV not being read?

Updated: Jan 25

Imagine, a recruitment department with less than sufficient headcount manually sifting through thousands of CV applications per month? The firm will probably lose its recruiters as well due to high stress levels.


To help recruiters keep up with increasing work pressure, large firms invested in the use of ATS – Applicant Tracking Systems to help carry out the initial review of applications and CVs against set determinants for each role. Following the initial assessment, the ATS ranks each application or CV depending on the degree to which they match the set job criteria and then shortlists candidates for the human recruiter to review. What happens to the CVs not sent to the recruiter you ask? Well, in some instances, some CVs are kept in a talent pool for future roles while others which are not deemed to be good enough are expunged from the system.



Who gets to review your job application first?


Its very intriguing and interesting to know that as at 2019, the year Covid-19 started, it was reported by CNBC that 75% of job applicant CVs were never processed or read by a human. This simply means that the first time a job applicant’s CV is reviewed in the hiring organisation, it is done automatically not by a human, but via the use of ATS.

In the same 2019, 95% of Fortune 500 companies were operationally using ATS. to streamline and process thousands of job applications weekly (Jobscan).

It is fair to say that every job applicant aspires to engage even in a brief conversation with a human (recruiter or hiring manager) so they can adequately convey how they are best fit for the job they’ve applied for, beyond what their 2-paged CV can do for them. However, considering the following, one can understand why there is an increasing use of ATS not only by large corporates but more recently, even small firms.

· ATS are more efficient (but not necessarily better) at what they do than humans

· AI and machine-learning based ATS are increasingly getting better, more complex and relatively cheaper for what they do.

· There are more ATS in the market than ever – covering cheap to high-end markets.

· With increased redundancies due to Covid and BREXIT, more organisations are trying to optimise efficiency of recruitment process with few employees by employing ATS


What options do applicants have to improve their chances


As at 2021, even smaller firms now make us of ATS to achieve recruitment process efficiencies. As such, we can confidently infer that more than 75% of job applicant CVs will never get the chance to be read by a human; they will first be processed by an impassionate, non-thinking machine thereby reducing applicant chances of expressing to a human, why they should be considered for the role they apply for.

While this situation may seem unreasonable, possibly, unfair to those who are unable to compose an ATS winning CV, the situation is what it is and… likely here to stay. So, what can you do you ask? Well, a lot. See three below important approaches to adopt.

· Get a CV that is ATS compliant:

o ATS are machines – they work primarily on logic. Crack the code, you can get past or through them to get to the human on the other side. In simple language, speak the language the ATS understands, show to it that you meet its set criteria for the job you’re applying for, prompting it to rank your CV as one to be presented to the human recruiter for review – thereby increasing your chances of an interview.

· Keep it simple:

o Just like all machines, at their heart, ATS do not read CVs the way humans do. So make it simple for the ATS to do its job and identify the fantastic experience, qualifications and key words on your CV. As much as possible, avoid fanciful CV templates.

· Do your research:

o To ensure you rank well in the ‘eyes’ of the ATS, understand the job role you’re applying to, the industry it sits in and use key words in your CV that are relevant to the role and industry.

· Be dynamic – invest the time and effort:

I’m sure you already know this – always invest the time and effort to adapt / update your CV for each role you apply to – even if they are similar. Remember, the recruiters will be different and potentially, the ATS supporting the recruiters are to.


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