CV screening software uses AI to find suitable candidates in the application pool. Here’s how to make sure your CV gets seen by a human.
Beat the Bot: How to Write an AI-Appeasing CV
Artificial intelligence is getting increasingly accurate – but sometimes, a real human needs to read your CV to realise you’re a great candidate for the job.
AI software (called an Applicant Tracking System or ATS) is frequently used to screen initial applications to job roles. It speeds up the process for HR departments significantly – which means they can get through to potential candidates for interviews much quicker. AI is a great tool for HR – but it can make applicants fall at the first hurdle.
Here’s how to write your CV so that it gets past the initial round of AI screening and gets into HR’s hands for review.
1. Be skill specific
AI looks for quantitative phrases – so saying you’re a ‘leader’ might not pass. Instead, list – clearly – the key skills that will help you in the role.
If, for example, you have a particular qualification, list it. If you have experience with certain types of software – list them. Be as specific as you can!
Try to match what’s on the job description, too. If the company is specifically asking for candidates to hold a minimum qualification or skillset, it’s going to be part of the screening process (don’t, however, lie on your CV).
2. Use standard terms
Flowery language has no place on a CV. While you’re matching the skills requested in the job description, think about how else that skill might be described.
If, for example, the description says you’ll be managing a team of people, use words like ‘management’, ‘manager’, and ‘delegate’. This is because the person writing the job description is human – the software is designed to look for standard terms that everyone might use (rather than what one human writing the description would use).
The same goes for your qualifications. If you have a particular qualification that is the equivalent of another professional qualification, consider listing this in brackets. For example, if you hold a CeMAP qualification, consider writing it: “CeMAP (Level 3 Certificate in Mortgage Advice equivalent)
3. Cut down your personal statement
It used to be that the personal statement is what ‘sold’ you as a great candidate to the hiring manager. However, AI software doesn’t look at this in detail. It’ll see a bunch of text – and not the nuance of your years’ of experience the way your personality shines through.
Introduce yourself in a few sentences and then cut to the specifics. You can include more detail in your cover letter if you like; your CV should be all business and no fluff.
4. Keep your formatting clear
ATS software isn’t as smart as humans – and real people like simplicity, too.
Make your CV is as easy for both AI and humans to read by:
• Minimising graphics and tables
• Sticking to bullet points for lists
• Using clear section headers without fancy designs
• Making contact information easy to find
• Including only the most relevant information.
Fancy CVs with lots of tables, heavy design, and several font types won’t always pass AI screening. If they do, the human reading it may still get confused or be put off by the format (and stop reading your CV altogether).
5. More things to avoid on your CV
Assuming you’ve managed to beat the bot, your application will be read by a hiring manager. That HR person will have a clear idea of what they’re looking for – and if you make any classic CV mistakes, you won’t be that person.
By Sanu Miah, Founder