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Professional CV Help: Structure and Content

Contract Review

Professional Tips on Helping You Write a CV for Online Job Applications and Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) 


With changes to the way we apply for jobs, especially online through company websites and job boards such as LinkedIn, CV Library and JobsDB. How you format your CV is really important. We’ve outlined some important points below that can help in optimising your CV for online applications.

Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) generally lifts the plain text off a document in the same order as it is formatted. They also auto match using keywords in your CV with the job description or advert. Once your CV is in the system you ideally want to be found now and in the future, therefore you need to make sure your CV follows ATS best practices to maximise the chances of your CV to be seen. Here are a few professional hints and tips that will help get your CV registered in the system for recruiters and companies in HK to find:

  • Use a font like Arial, New Times Roman or Calibri. Keep it simple. Generally Comic Sans is not considered professional for professional Multi National Companies

  • Photos, pictures and JPG’s and unusual characters will usually not be accepted onto an ATS. For example, if you just put the Logo of your company, this usually will not be transferred across. You need to ensure you put the name of the company in text so that this can be lifted from your document into the system. Below is a list which some ATS’ will not accept and may upload your CV as blank

- Profile pictures or any jpg

- Graphics

- Icons

- Multiple colours

- Graphs

- Tables

- Hyperlinks (including links to email and LinkedIn)

- Text boxes


  • ATS finds it hard to transfer any text side by side in vertical boxes.

  • They usually cannot transfer artistic CV’s easily as they usually only transfer the text in a horizontal order as it appears on the CV.

  • Applicant tracking systems will search for you via keywords. Make sure they are a match for the job you are applying for and repeated throughout your CV.

  • If your CV is a PDF image (similar to a photo or jpg) it will sometimes transfer across as a blank as the system cannot lift the text off the document. Word CVs are safer

  • How long can your CV be? 1 page for graduates, 2 pages for 1 year+ experience, at the most 3 pages for 10 years + experience MAXIMUM

  • Job titles matter. Ensure they are as close a match to the job if possible. Remember DON’T LIE

Whether you are a jobseeker in HK or living abroad, download free general CV templates now to help you get started with writing your CV. For IT and Teacher CV templates see the Free Resources page.

Professional advice on CV Content writing that will help you get noticed by recruiters and companies. 

Generally, most people think their CV should show their potential employer everything they have done. However, the best CV writing practice is to structure the content around the company and what the job description is asking for.

Does this mean you have to have a different CV for every job application? Well, if you are applying to the same type of job possibly not. However, if each job you are applying to is slightly different then yes. 

Selection Via ATS Algorithm

Your CV needs to read as close to the job description or advert as possible. The ATS algorithm will make a selection based on a number of criteria. This includes your job title and keyword repetition. It is important that you ensure you use the same words in your CV as are on the advert or job description. These preferably need to be repeated in your titles and in the main text within your job description.

Some people like to add in “Core Competencies” or “Key Achievements” at the top of their CV, below their personal profile. This can highlight the same keywords again as the job description or advert. Add this section dependent on the length of your CV, which ideally should be maximum. Recruiters and Talent Teams like to see what you have done within the context of your previous jobs so it is important that once you are through the ATS selection it is also an interesting read for the Talent Teams. 

How to get HR and Talent Teams to notice your CV 

Talent Teams have some great experts on board, however they are sometimes not total experts in every area of recruitment. Just because you can see your transferable skills for a role, does not mean that they can as well in all cases. 

Similar to writing your CV for AST systems, ensure your CV uses the same terminology and wording as the job description or advert. For example, if you are using a technique or software which is similar to what the company listed as a requirement, write it down and emphasize it using the same words as the advert or job description. This will not only help getting your CV noticed by recruitment professionals, but it also helps the HR and Talent team of the company you are applying to, to see that you are a clear match for the job.

More CV Resources

Ready to apply to jobs in Hong Kong but need more help with writing your CV? Check out our free CV templates here

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