Who do you think will look at your next job application – people or algorithms? With current technological developments accelerating the recruitment process, the chances are very good that algorithms will replace people. After all, hundreds of applications in response to a single job advertisement are no longer a rarity these days. In order to find suitable candidates in such cases, personnel departments and consultants first have to look through all applications and sort out unsuitable applicants.

With the aid of artificial intelligence (AI) and automated machine learning algorithms, this time consuming process can instead take seconds, allowing recruiters and hiring managers to provide a more personal service and engage with skilled and experienced professionals.

So how can you ensure your application makes it past the algorithms and reaches their shortlist?

What are your hard skills?

Firstly, you’ll need to add keywords to your CV and online professional profiles which are relevant to the jobs you apply for. Look at job descriptions for your ideal role so you can determine what these keywords are, and where they can be incorporated. For example, you may include “project management”, “governance”, “efficiencies”, “health and safety”, “financial reporting” or “budget management” under your responsibilities.

What are your soft skills?

Don’t forget keywords for the required soft skills, such as “communication”, “adaptability”, “time management” or “professionalism”, and the systems you use. Integrate these soft skills keywords into your CV and LinkedIn profile to describe your achievements. For example, “I used my time management skills to plan a successful annual conference with a strict budget in a short time frame.”

Make sure you link keywords with proof that you did your previous jobs well. A simple trick is to combine an action verb with a keyword. For example, instead of writing that you “always achieved your target goals”, try “I surpassed target goals by 20 percent in Q1 and 18 percent year-on-year.”


In our Download Center you will find useful templates and checklists for a successful application.

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Ensure convincing profiles in business networks

Last but not least, you also need convincing profiles in business networks, such as Xing and LinkedIn. A lot of people leave the summary field blank, but you should use the full character count to highlight your successes, skills and value. Of course, use appropriate keywords here too. Equally important are the sections "Haves" and "Wants" on Xing.

It’s also crucial to avoid unusual job titles. Even if your official job title is unconventional, use an industry-standard title in your CV and online profile so it will be recognised.

Remember to ensure your CV is in the accepted format as an alternative style might not contain the content that the algorithms recognise, meaning your application could fail to make the shortlist

The core of recruitment will always consist of trusting relationships; it’s an ultimate people business. This means that the human aspect cannot be overestimated at all. At the same time, however, technological developments such as intelligent algorithms improve certain parts of the process. It is therefore becoming increasingly important to optimise your application regarding these algorithms.