5 Reasons Recruiters Never See Your CV

When you’ve spent all that time lovingly polishing your CV to perfection, the last thing you want to imagine is that it goes on the rejection pile before a recruiter has even looked at it.  As recruiters often have to sift through hundreds of candidates’ for the multiple positions they’re trying to fill, many of them have neither the time nor energy to look at every CV they receive.

In order to filter through the deluge of resumés which land on their desks, many recruiters will use computer software to screen out unsuitable candidates early on in the process.  An Applicant Tracking System (ATS) scans through each CV, picking up on certain keywords and generally helping narrow down those candidates whose CVs are worth a pair of human eyes taking a closer look.

If you’re receiving nothing but silences or rejections, it could be because your CV simply isn’t getting past the computer.  Here are the five main reasons a recruiter may never even see your CV…

It’s in the wrong format

We might like to think computers are very clever, but despite recruiters relying so heavily on them, ATS systems aren’t always that smart.  Some can struggle to read anything other than a Word document, so submitting your CV in any other file type, such as a pdf can be risky.

The layout is confusing

Again, ATS systems are easily confused by fancy fonts, creative graphics and other ‘gimmicks’ which might look nice to human eyes, but which render your CV unintelligible to the computer.  Try to keep the layout of your CV as plain and simple as possible, neatly broken down into manageable and distinct sections.  Be consistent in your use of spacing, stick to a standard font and keep the same font size throughout, as this makes it easier to read for machine and human alike.

It misses out vital keywords

Often the ATS is used to pick up on keywords which determine how suitable you are to the role.  If you want to pass the ATS and reach the human being on the other side, you need to detail all your relevant skills and make sure they tick the boxes for key terms.  A handy tool such as the Jobstoday ValueMyCV works a little like an ATS system which is on your side, picking up on the keywords and helping you pinpoint where your CV might fall short in this department.  It also gives you an indication of the true value of your skills, so it’s well worth a look.

It’s full of holes

Because some ATS systems can detect gaps in employment by extracting the dates you’ve given for past positions, you should never try to hide gaps in your employment history or leave out things you’re not too proud of.  If the system is pairing dates and keywords to give recruiters an indication of how much experience you’ve had in a specific field, missing out key information will backfire and probably lead to your CV being rejected before the humans get a look.

It’s too long/short

This is one area where you really can say too much, so don’t be tempted to overload your CV with information which isn’t relevant.  Not only is it a waste of your time, but the cold and calculating computer will simply scan over and ignore anything which doesn’t tick its boxes. 

Even if they’re not using an ATS system, many recruiters will simply filter out candidates on good, old-fashioned first impressions.  If your CV is too long – by which we mean over two sheets of A4 – it may well end up on the rejection pile because it’s just too much of a chore to read through.  The same goes for a short CV, which immediately tells a recruiter you either lack experience and skills or you haven’t made much of an effort.


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