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Technology is opening new frontiers in staff recruitment processes. Organisations are retiring the tedious traditional recruitment processes — where they advertise jobs, receive tonnes of paper applications and then the hiring manager scans for the right candidate.

Many companies have migrated to electronic application tracking system which turns the previously strenuous task into a doddle. An application tracking system — or ATS, for short — is a type of software used by hiring managers during a recruitment process to collect, sort, scan, and rank CVs and job applications they receive to fill open positions.

The growing use of application tracking system is the reason many employers now require applicants to send their applications in soft copy; not in paper format.

Whereas this technology-powered recruitment method removes the load off the hiring manager’s desk, the process means that your application could slip through the cracks if your CV is not in the format and style that the software can “see and read”— even if you have all the qualifications.

As a job-hunter, you need to know how your CV — and your professional online profile — looks in the “eyes” of a computer software. To be noticed by application tracking software, here are some tips and tweaks for your CV and online professional profile.


Use the right lingo: Bear in mind that application tracking systems are programmed to catch key words, phrases and acronyms relating to a job. Think about the imperative words an employer would use while searching your kind of skills. Feature those words on your CV and application. Every profession has its lingo, use it on your CV. Include acronyms and the spelled-out form of any title, such as Certified Public Accountant (CPA), Project Management Professional (PMP). That way, the software will notice and rank your CV.

Format matters: Unless otherwise indicated, don’t use PDF format for your CV. PDF is not compatible with many application processing software. PDF gives your CV a nice professional look but of what benefit is it if the application tracking system can’t make head or tail of it? Hedge your bet by using Ms Word document. In addition, eliminate pictures, logos and symbols: they are unrecognisable by the software.

Stay simple: Don’t be too fancy: only include the usual sections of a CV: Qualifications, Professional Experience, Education, Skills, and the like. Adding unfamiliar headings can confuse the software. Also it helps to quantify your experience and achievements in specific figures where necessary, as software is good at picking numbers.

Summarise: Include a summary section on your CV. Use the summary section to highlight your qualification, achievements, star skills, and crucial experiences. That way, you will be increasing the odds of catching the software’s eye and hopefully be selected to move to the next selection stage — and speak to the hiring manager.