With so many candidates applying for every available role, you may not always hear back from each every job you have applied for. But what about that particular one that you think you would be perfect for and for which you meet every criteria? You have all the required skills, relevant work experience, and a passion for the sector. You send off your CV, hope for the best… nothing. So what went wrong? Most likely, your CV reads well enough in real life, but not so well in the Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS), which more and more banks, recruitment agencies and large organisations are using to screen the first batch of CVs that come flooding in for any given job opening. In fact almost all of the IBs in the City are using the ATS approach, which means optimising your CV writing for non-human eyes is increasingly necessary.

What do these resume-reading robots like to see?

ATS robots analyse keywords, dates, titles and other key data in order to screen out approximately 75% of candidates, streamlining the process for employers. So it is vital that applicants do the following:

  • Use appropriate keywords when writing your CV; research similar roles and job descriptions – keywords should represent your skills and experience, and should all be relevant to the specific role you are applying for.
  • A summary or profile at the beginning of the CV, followed by a clearly marked list of skills and qualifications, helps the ATS locate the most important information straight away.
  • Only utilise web-standard fonts; Arial, Tahoma, Verdana and Calibri are all widely readable.

Mistakes to avoid

  • Unless you are a graduate applying to a sector like investment banking, which has a strict one-page standard, don’t feel the need to restrict yourself. ATS bots are more concerned with being able to clearly find information; a simple, un-crowded layout will help them to do this.
  • Don’t use abbreviations, unless they are universally recognised in your field. For example, “DCM” or “ECM” are perfectly fine, but using “IBD” instead of “investment banking” might cause confusion.
  • Many candidates use tables or fields to separate sections in their CV – don’t! Not only does it confuse the Applicant Tracking System, it also makes editing your CV in future needlessly intricate.
  • Only send a PDF file if it is specifically requested on the application form. PDFs are unreadable to many programmes. It is a much safer bet to submit a Word document.

Alternatively, get help from the professionals

City CV boasts a talented team of CV writers and consultants with over 100 years of joint experience. With our insider knowledge and expertise on CV writing we know what an ATS expects to see on CVs. To find out how we can help you, call today on +44 20 7100 6656 or send an email to enquiries@citycv.com.