CV Writing Tips – Part 4 – How to get past ATS

Many of our mentees ask of their mentors is how to improve their chances of success in getting a job.  Many mentees believe the key to success is how to handle job interviews. However before this can take place you need a good CV. Without a good CV, you are unlikely to secure an interview. As such, we thought we would release a helpful 4 part beginners guide about how to create a great CV.

Here is Part 4 of our 4 part series.


CV writing tips – Part 4 – How to get past ATS

Many companies and online job sites utilize ATS technology. ATS stands for Applicant Tracking System. ATS are software applications that scan resumes to help recruiters go through multiple resumes to find specific candidates.


How can you get your resume selected by ATS?


Choose the right words and phrases

If your resume has the right words, you will be found more easily by being picked up by the ATS. Use exact words and phrases from the job description, because the ATS can filter through all applications by searching for relevant terms.

But it’s a fine balance – do not go overboard on quoting the job posting. A survey by CareerBuilder found 41% of employers rejected candidates that had CVs that copied large amounts of wording from the job posting.


Use standard fonts and simple formatting

Use standard fonts and simple formatting, because often ATS might not be able to decipher certain fonts and formatting.


Document type

Some ATS platforms can be old and may not be able to read certain types of documents, such as .docx or PDF. A simple .doc format is often the best bet (unless the job description specifically asks for a type of format like PDF etc) as it is most universally readable by many computers on many operating systems (whereas some formats like .docx may not necessarily be readable on some computers.) Some employers may also prefer Word as they can edit it, add notes or refer to it at interviews.

However .doc formats do have some pitfalls – sometimes formatting may change on different computers – so it is a good idea to email your CV to a friend to check that the formatting comes out ok before you send it to employers.

There is no one “best” format as there are so many types and versions of software that you cannot always be certain that the recipient will be able to open your CV without any problems, especially if it has been produced on a PC and is being read on a Mac, or vice versa.

Not all companies or job search engines use ATS – however if you are uploading your resume to a site (rather than emailing directly), then there is a good chance it is an ATS system.


Here are some great tips by CA, CEO and Career Coach and Mentor on MentorSelector – Andrew Walsh:

  • Document type is important – do not use PDF as many application tracking systems aren’t able to scan PDF documents.
  • Best format is to use .doc extension – not .docx
  • Documents must be written with key words referenced in the job description. ATS software will scan your resume – and if the key words do not appear often enough or are missing, the resume will not be shortlisted for further review by the hiring manager/recruiter.



If you need help, you can always engage a third party to help you write a great resume, but it is also important to have your resume reviewed as well. Don’t forget MentorSelector is also here to help – MentorSelector has people experienced in industries who may be able to guide you on what to focus on in a resume, as well as certified resume writers such as Karen Huller.


We hope you have enjoyed this 4 part series on CV writing.

To learn more about MentorSelector or to find your mentor or life coach, please click here. We are always looking for more mentors to join our family – its a great initiative that is mutually rewarding for both mentor and mentee. Register now to become a mentor or a mentee.