Crafting a Winning CV: Optimising for ATS and Human Review

In today’s competitive job market, your CV (Curriculum Vitae) is your first impression on potential employers. Whether it’s screened by Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) or reviewed by human eyes, optimising your CV is crucial to securing that coveted interview invitation. Here’s how you can tailor your CV effectively to increase your chances of making it through both ATS and human review processes.

Understanding ATS

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) are software used by employers to manage and filter job applications. These systems scan your CV for keywords, skills, and qualifications relevant to the job description. To ensure your CV passes through ATS successfully:

1. Keyword Optimisation: Carefully review the job description and identify key skills and qualifications required. Incorporate these exact keywords into your CV where appropriate, especially in your skills, experience, and summary sections.

2. Formatting Matters: Use a clean, standard format with headings (e.g., Work Experience, Education) and bullet points to make it easy for ATS to parse your information. Avoid using unusual fonts, headers, or columns that might confuse the system.

3. File Format: ATS systems typically prefer Word documents or plain text files. Ensure your CV is saved in a compatible format to prevent formatting issues.

Tailoring for Human Review

While ATS helps filter applications, your CV also needs to impress human recruiters. Here’s how to make your CV stand out during human review:

1. Clear Structure: Start with a concise summary or objective statement that highlights your career goals and key skills. Follow with sections on work experience, education, skills, and relevant certifications.

2. Relevant Experience: Prioritize relevant experience and achievements that directly relate to the job you’re applying for. Quantify your achievements wherever possible to demonstrate your impact.

3. Concise and Impactful: Keep your CV concise and to the point. Aim for a maximum of two pages unless you have extensive experience. Use bullet points to highlight achievements and responsibilities, focusing on outcomes rather than just listing duties.

4. Customise Each Application: Avoid sending out a generic CV. Tailor your CV for each job application by emphasizing the skills and experiences most relevant to the specific role.

Maximising Interview Invitations

To maximize your chances of being invited to interview:

– Research the Company: Understand the company culture and values. Align your CV with how your skills and experiences match their needs and culture.

– Network: Whenever possible, try to establish a connection within the company. Referrals can significantly increase your chances of getting noticed.

– Follow Application Instructions: Pay close attention to application instructions. Ensure you submit all required documents and information as requested.

– Proofread: Before submitting your CV, proofread carefully for spelling and grammatical errors. A polished CV demonstrates attention to detail.


Optimising your CV for both Applicant Tracking Systems and human review involves a strategic approach. By tailoring your CV to match the job description, emphasizing relevant skills and achievements, and presenting your information clearly and concisely, you can significantly increase your chances of standing out among applicants. Remember, your CV is your ticket to securing that all-important interview, so invest the time and effort to make it shine!