Tips to Make an ATS Friendly CV


What's an Applicant Tracking System (ATS)?

An applicant tracking system, often referred to as an ATS, is a software application that automates the hiring process and streamline the hiring process from source to hire.

What does ATS look for?

When an Applicant Tracking System search on candidates, it looks at a number of different fields and give these fields different weights.

Here are the main fields most ATS search on, in order of weight:

First Name
Last Name
Email / Phone
Current Position at current company
Skills - parsed from CV
Past Positions at past companies


CV Checklist

First and Last Name, Email and Phone - Make sure your contact details are included in your CV and correctly spelt.

City & Postcode - This is a powerful filter that can reject a large number of applications if the company is looking for candidates within a certain distance of the workplace. So before applying, check if the company offers flexible working conditions with regards to location, working schedules etc. so that your application can be considered if you live in a different city or country.

Current Position at current company - This is the most important field to greatly improve your ATS score. Your current job title should closely match the job title you are applying for and be widely recognised e.g. if you are a Finance Manager and are applying for a French Finance Manager or an EMEA Finance Manager position, you should add "French" or "EMEA" to your job title (as long as you have the skills) to match the advert.

Skills parsed from CV - ATS will look for specific skills which are most likely to be found within the job description you are applying for. Use our powerful and quick CV scanner tool to optimise your CV with keywords, and focus on placing them in strategic positions as described further down.

Education - List your qualifications as requested in the job description. If you lack education, focus on your experience.

Last but not least, use a simple CV template in a popular file format such as Word or PDF with no fancy graphics that could be misinterpreted by ATS.

How to list skills on a CV

It’s easy to get carried away and incorporate your keywords into your CV more than you should. Unfortunately, ATS are wise to keyword stuffing and will now penalise CV that do this. Instead of repeating the keyword a hundred times in the "body", it’s better to focus on placing it in strategic positions on your CV such as:

  • Current Title & Position
  • Past Titles & Positions
  • Education
Fig. CV - Use Keywords in Strategic Places as Highlighted Below.

Jonathan Smith


07769 064852



London, EC2R 8AH


Personal Statement

A highly motivated and driven finance manager with nine years’ experience in top level business environments. Confident, tenacious with a proven track record for first class account handling and client satisfaction.

Key Achievements

• Prepare and present monthly financial statements and analysis to CEO
• Increased cash flow by £15 million by consolidating credit-analysis function
• Manage Accounting Department with staff of 4

Work Experience

Finance Manager / IBM, London
November 2013 – Present

Responsible for the handling of key financial accounts and maximising performance and cash flow.

• Managing and driving the account team in order to achieve and exceed targets
• Working closely with account managers to strengthen key areas and target financial growth
• Monitoring account performance
• Gathering and presenting key data to senior managers

Assistant Financial Manager / Dell Computers, London
March 2010 – November 2013

• Managing several key financial accounts
• Monitoring and managing large budgets
• Reporting forecasts to executives


BSc (Hons) in Accounting and Finance / University of Greenwich, London
2006 – 2009

Including the following modules:

• International macroeconomics and financial markets
• Operations management
• Economics for business
• Financial accounting


In my spare time, I enjoy going to the gym and regularly partake in charity runs around the UK in order to help the community and to stay fit and healthy.