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How to optimise your CV for algorithms

How to optimise your CV for the algorithms

Next time you apply for a job, will people or algorithms screen your application? Chances are, it’ll be the latter, with technological advancements reducing the time to hire. After all, one job ad can elicit hundreds of responses, many of which may be inappropriate, yet all must be screened to identify the suitable candidates.

With the aid of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated machine learning algorithms, commonly referred to as applicant tracking systems (ATS), this time consuming process can be dramatically reduced, allowing recruiters and hiring managers to provide a more personal service and engage with skilled and experienced professionals.

An important aspect of ATS is CV parsing. CV parsing software ensures the automatic processing of data from a CV. The software uses a preliminary scan to analyse a candidate’s skills, experience, education and even job titles.

By parsing, the data obtained from a CV is directly translated to a structured candidate profile in a recruitment system. This way a recruiter or hiring manager immediately has access to a large amount of information regarding a candidate.

To make it through this initial scan and reach the shortlist, it is important to optimise your CV.

Identify the hard skills

To do this, you firstly need to add keywords to your CV and online professional profiles which are relevant to the jobs you apply for. Look at job descriptions for your ideal role so you can determine what these keywords are, and where they can be incorporated. For example, you may include “project management”, “governance”, “efficiencies”, “health and safety”, “financial reporting” or “budget management” under your responsibilities.

The industry in which you work and the systems you work with are also relevant in algorithm screening and should be incorporated into your CV.

A simple trick is to add synonyms for your identified keywords to enhance the final result.

Look for the soft skills

Don’t forget keywords for the required soft skills, such as “communication”, “adapt”, “organise”, “time management” or “professionalism”. Use these soft skill keywords throughout your CV and LinkedIn profile to describe your achievements. For example, “I used my time management skills to plan a successful annual conference with a strict budget in a short time frame.”

Make sure you link keywords with proof that you did your previous jobs well. A simple trick is to combine an action verb with a keyword. For example, instead of writing that you “always achieved your target goals”, try “I surpassed target goals by 20 per cent in Q1 and 18 per cent year-on-year.”

Create a strong LinkedIn profile

Then create a strong LinkedIn profile. A lot of people leave the summary field blank, but you should use the full character count to highlight your successes, skills and value. Of course, use appropriate keywords here too.

Avoid unusual job titles

It’s also important to avoid unusual job titles. Even if your official job title is unconventional, use an industry-standard title in your CV and online profile so it will be recognised.

Use an accepted format

Remember to ensure your CV is in an accepted format as an alternative style might not contain the content that the algorithms recognise, meaning your application could fail to make the shortlist.

Avoid generic statements

An ATS searches for tangible results and penalises vague descriptions. Commonly used terms such as “team player” and “innovative” may describe you well from a professional point of view, but do not provide much concrete information. So, replace such overused clichés with evidence of your achievements.

Under the ‘work experience’ section of your CV, highlight the five best and relevant responsibilities and successes for each job. Describe these activities concretely, so that it becomes clear to recruiters and hiring managers – and an ATS – that you possess the required expertise. Once again, finding and using synonyms for your responsibilities and successes can increase your algorithm value.

Recruitment will always remain a people business. At its heart are trusted relationships, which means that the value of the human touch can’t be overestimated. But at the same time, technological advancements such as smart algorithms, are improving certain elements of the process. Recruitment is evolving, and with these tips, you’ll be able to evolve with it.

Updating your CV? Download our CV template to help you get started.

About the author

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Nick Deligiannis

Managing Director

Nick Deligiannis began working at Hays in 1993 and since then he has held a variety of consulting and management roles across the business. In 2004 he was appointed to the Hays Board of Directors. He was made Managing Director of Australia and New Zealand in 2012.

Prior to joining Hays, he had a background in human resource management and marketing, and has formal qualifications in Psychology.

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