One of the main reasons that a CV fails in application is because it has not been ‘matched’, this is one of the most essential practices you can do before hitting the submission button, but it is also one of the least practiced! By matching your CV to the vacancy, you can elevate your chances of getting through ATS, the applicant tracking software, and into the hands (or email) of the recruiter!

ATS works on key words, levels of experience, actual and presumed skills as well as many other key factors, but for this blog I am focusing on Key Word Matching and what it is and how to do it!

Every vacancy you see advertised will be loaded with key words that the system will look for in every CV that parses through, short of copying the vacancy into your CV (!!), what can you do to identify what will make the difference in your application?

Firstly you need to understand Hard, Medium and Soft Skills – Hard Skills are the top keywords in a vacancy and normally include job title, main role responsibilities, experience and knowledge areas through to essential criteria classifications; Medium Skills are the less weighted key words and sit across a broad overview of experience; and then Soft Skills are more person centred.

Secondly, the ATS will presume some Key Skills that the vacancy portrays a need for, but without physically being mentioned in the advert – none of us have a crystal ball so sometimes it is more luck than judgement with the ‘presumed key skills’, but if your CV is correctly loaded with content specific to your role/industry then these should already be shown.

So how do you do this?

First of all, check the vacancy and highlight the key words that relate to job title, experience required, systems knowledge, person and job capabilities and then make sure that you have used the exact same wording/terminology in your CV;

‘Enthusiastic project leader with experience of managing remote teams, utilising lean methodology and focused on KPIs, budget and people deliverables, analysing management information and reporting to board level’

  • Your CV should show Project Leader – you may well have Project Manager mentioned throughout your CV, so change one or two mentions to Project Leader for instance…


  • Your CV should show Lean Methodology – you may well have Six Sigma, ‘Colour’ Belt in Lean Six Sigma, Methodology throughout your CV, so change one or two mentions to Lean Methodology…


  • Your CV should show Analysing Management Information – you may well have MI analysis, MI reporting, report analysis throughout your CV, so change one or two mentions to Analysing Management Information (MI)…


This is of course just a small example but should show you how to decipher a job advert and how to match – no CV is ever going to be ‘one size fits all’ so adapt it as best you can to the job specifics!