Is the ATS a black box?

Anne-Lise Brown
Anne-Lise Brown ↓ 5 minute read
Nov 07, 2021
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Making sure your CV doesn’t get passed by

Our friends from CV Masters are helping candidates write their best CVs to target their desired jobs and illustrate authentically their experience and assets. As the IT world sometimes presents itself as too technical or hard to approach, they wanted to have a conversation with us on what a great CV should encompass from the perspective of an IT recruitment specialist. That’s where our consultant Andreea came into play and answered their questions, gave some tips and tricks, some do’s and don’t’s, and all that to help the technical minds in our community get the jobs they want, but also to make our recruiting process smoother.

We talked about 4 main aspects that can contribute to the quality of your CV and how they can impact its reach in the process of searching for the right candidates. We know developers are always bombarded with job offers, so for those of you who are hoping for the contrary, rethinking your CV can also be a beneficial step in only attracting the right offers for you.


1. Get specific with competencies and skillsGoing through thousands of resumes over the years, we can say there are usually 3 approaches to this segment of the CV - a detailed description of the skills, macro exposing them, or categorizing them.

    From our perspective clarity and coherence are the most important. There’s no wrong or right, but what we do prefer is you mentioning the skills at each job or position that you had. Rather than listing them in bulk, you can choose to state the competencies that were actually needed and developed at each job, or even use a bar chart to illustrate to what degree different skills were required to perform your tasks. This also helps us see where you currently position yourself with different skills and technologies and can provide us a better understanding of whether you would be suitable for or interested in our job. If the last time you worked with a technology was years ago, this way of listing your competencies will lower the chances of getting irrelevant calls and can bring the offers that are relevant for your current level and interest. No matter if you are a junior, senior, or anything in between, having your CV up to date is extremely important.

    💡 A little tip from us is, when you apply for a JD, highlight that particular job in your CV where you used the tech stack needed for the new role.

    We know juniors might sometimes feel left out from this conversation, but don’t worry, we got you covered. We love to see pet projects or personal projects or even important assignments from university that you got minimal to preferably no external help in completing. Remember to focus on the ones where you used the desired tech stack for your future internship and keep it short, we usually don’t expect more than 1 page resumes from you.


    2. Don’t shy away from your responsibilities

    We know you guys are all hard workers, but what we mean is that we actually want to know what you did in your past jobs. If you’re planning on copy-pasting the responsibilities from the JD, trust us, we’ve seen, written, and read plenty of those. What we are looking for is finding out your personal input in different projects or products, things like if you ever came up with a proof of concept that got implemented (technologies, tools, frameworks, or some other developer-thingies). We often encounter candidates that avoid sharing too much because of the NDAs, but the truth is we are only interested in you, and even with an NDA you can still share details that won’t affect your agreement, for example, if you refactored an existing project or if you did anything from scratch.

    💡 If you find it hard to identify your contributions, try to imagine an interview where you are both the interviewer and the interviewee. Ask yourself questions that could bring up to memory different work situations, questions like “What were the solutions you came up with?”, “What contexts challenged you to think outside the box?”. Dig deep in your experience and you’ll find just how many moments of greatness you had.


    3. Linkedin, Github, Behance, and other friends of the developers

      Maybe we’re stating the obvious, but Linkedin is one of the most-used recruiting tools, and it might be the time to take an extra look at your profile. We’ve seen developers who choose to use the framework in their role title, rather than the technology. Although it might sound fun to be a Ninja or a Guru, you are making yourself harder to be found and even a little confusing for the recruiters who are just starting out.

      💡 We suggest keeping it simple and up to date on Linkedin too and if you’re aiming to change your job or get a job, remember that on Linkedin the higher the density of a word, the higher you’ll be in the search result list when that keyword is targeted.

      Attaching your Github link in your CV might be tempting, but we are here to tell you it is only relevant when you have there mentioned achievements of yours, new things you tried, open-source contributions, or interesting personal projects like, let’s say, the automation of your home. In some contexts, hiring managers want to see written code either in a personal project, or a test, and this is where it could come in handy too.

      For our creative Design candidates, platforms like Behance offer a great opportunity to present your portfolio and let the recruiters and the hiring managers get a taste of your work.


      4. Getting funky with it

        As tempting as it may be, please don’t go crazy with the templates, the colors, the cute little flowers, or the stylish fonts. In your CV the most important thing is the content, and, believe it or not, this is the only thing we (and the ATS) are paying attention to. Unless you are applying for a design role, where we appreciate seeing a personal touch and a dash of creativity, we encourage you to focus on the things that are relevant to your experience.

        Now go do yourself and us a favor and update your CV! See you at the interview!

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