How To Create A Search Friendly CV

Jobsearch, Jobseekers / 12 May 2022

This excellent guide from our friends at The CV Squad explains what Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are, and how they work, whilst also providing important information on how to write, format and present your CV. Follow the advice to help your CV pass through ATS, giving recruiters and hiring managers the best possible chance of seeing your job application.


Despite current economic concerns, employers’ intentions to hire have significantly increased by 9% over the first quarter of 2022. However, even though there are lots of jobs out there, the main problem remains! Ensuring you take advantage of the current job market trend, and to secure the job you want – how do you write and optimise a CV, so it passes ATS and recruiters and hiring managers can find you on job boards? To succeed in the modern-day job market, your CV must follow specific techniques. Almost 75% of CV’s are rejected by ATS because they’re not correctly formatted or keyword optimised. Even if you are perfectly qualified for the role, if your CV is not optimised it will never be seen or found by a human. Ensuring your CV is seen by recruiters and hiring managers, optimising it for ATS and job board search engines is a must do.

How To Create A Search Friendly CV


How Recruiters Find Your CV On A Job Board

When you submit your CV to a database of thousands of CVs, the chances of a recruiter or hiring manager with your dream job finding yours, without you optimising it, is equal to zero. Your CV needs to be found easily by recruiters searching the database. Job boards use special search engines similar to Google, Bing or Yahoo, these search engines will pick out specific keywords as they crawl the CVs uploaded to the job board.


What You Need to Know About ATS:

What Is ATS?

ATS (Applicant Tracking System) in short is a software solution used by recruiters and employers during the hiring process. To assist with human resources, recruitment, and hiring needs it is primarily used to help collect and organise large volumes of applicants. Also sometimes called a talent management system. Among other functions, an ATS ranks, sorts and filters thousands of CVs and enables the electronic screening process of CVs.


How Does It Work?

The decision on how an ATS ranks your CV against other candidates can be based on keywords, skill sets, experience, qualifications, locations, and even previous employers. If it identifies your CV as a good match for the position, it forwards your CV to the hiring manager. Those which don’t meet the qualifications are rejected and the CV is never seen by a human.


ATS & Job Board Compliant CV

Thankfully both ATS and job boards follow the same basic ground rules when it comes to optimising your CV. Here are the 8 important compounds of a search friendly CV to conquer ATS and job board search engines:


File Format

You have spent hours making your PDF CV look stunning! However, it might be all for nothing, if ATS can’t scan or read your CV for keywords and other important information correctly. Talking purely about searchability and the ease with which your CV can be read by an ATS, sending your CV as a Word document is the safest bet. All ATS can easily read and scan a CV in Word doc. and it is much easier for ATS to parse it into a digital applicant profile. But remember not to use text boxes, tables, columns, logos, colours, or special fonts which can prevent ATS from reading the content correctly.


Keyword Optimised

It is essential that your CV is keyword optimised and as much as possible in line with the roles you are applying for. Job descriptions will give you plenty of pointers. Research and cross-reference job advert content with your content. Check how roles are described, what titles they use, and what key skills the employer is looking for.



Your headline should be focused on the exact job you are targeting and state the exact job title. Let’s say you are applying for customer service managing roles. Putting ‘customer service manager’ ensures your CV is more searchable.



Use the term and spread it throughout your CV as much as is feasible and avoid spamming certain words just for the sake of it. Start your summary with a strong clear statement of who you are and what you do. Follow this with 2-3 targeted sentences. Highlight your most relevant strengths, skillset, and core competencies that are unique to you as a candidate and relevant to the role. Use the content you researched on the job advert.


Key Skills

Your skill section is vital to ensure your CV is keyword optimised and passes ATS. Don’t simply copy relevant skills from the job advert as bullet points, tell one or two sentences about it and demonstrate your experience. However, make sure to keep it short and factual. Have the right mix! It’s important to highlight your best hard and soft skills to position yourself as a well-rounded candidate.


Education & Qualifications

Ensure you list the exact qualifications (Bachelor’s Degree, MBA, etc) as well as the place you gained it– some universities or institutions can add additional search quality to your CV.


Career History

Put your “Job Title” first, then “Company name (country)” and then the “start and end date”. Below this quickly set the scene by adding a 1 line introduction on the company, and possibly what level you are reported to, then bullet point your duties and responsibilities. Keep it skill/task driven and relevant to the roles you are going to target. To close list all stand out achievements at the end. Your previous job title might be ‘Customer Care Manager’ as the main job title for example, but then, as you describe the role, say something like: ‘As a customer service manager, it was my responsibility to…’


CV File Name

Name your CV file as a combination of your name, the job title you are applying for and “CV”, this looks professional and makes it easy for recruiters to find the correct file.

Following the above should help you improve the chances of your job search success. However, we at The CV Squad know how hard it can be to write a strong and optimised CV. Our free CV review service can help you identify if your CV is presenting you in the best possible way and we provide additional advice and tips on how to improve it. Or take advantage of our professional CV Writing Service with an exclusive offer for candidates only and let our team of CV experts help you create a search friendly CV that wins you the job you want.

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