CTT Coach

 Jumping the 3 hoops 

When you apply for a job electronically it is important to be aware that your submission must clear 3 Hoops. These are:

1   The Scanning Software (called an ATS – Applicant Tracking System)
2    A Recruiter/HR Professional
3   The Hiring Leader

Each hoop has unique requirements.


ATS vary from one to another, however, in general they are focused on “keyword density,” in other words they rank your application by how often keywords (selected by the recruiter) repeat on your resume/profile/application. This might sound weird, but to an ATS a professional who has a keyword like Engineer repeat 8 times in their resume is “more of an Engineer” than one who has that word repeated 7 times.

Diving deeper, let us look at one resume dimension out of many – its length. To an ATS, longer is better, because a longer resume has more organic opportunities for keywords to repeat. Recruiters, on the other hand, process 50-200+ resumes per job posting. Consider that they often have many open jobs to fill. When I recruited, my highest number was 23 open jobs at one time. Can you picture my office with 23 piles of 50-200 resumes? The one thing a recruiter values most is efficiency/speed. Recruiters prefer shorter (2-page or less) resumes that are organized in a simple, predictable manner and are well written. A graphic design-heavy resume with creative organization might look pretty to you and everyone else – everyone else except a recruiter. Hiring leaders, by contrast, only see 5-10 pre-selected (by the recruiter) resumes. The hiring leader’s main concern is hiring the right person. In many cases, the right person means relief from several problems, increased recognition, compensation, and many other wonderful things. In short, they want to learn as much about you as they can and would prefer a 5-7-page resume if you asked them.

So, what is the right resume length? Longer is better for the ATS and the hiring leader, while shorter is preferred by the recruiter. I recommend 2 pages for professionals with 5 or less years experience and 3 pages for professionals with 10 or more years’ experience, assuming it is well written!  When it comes to resume length, a “Frankenstein-like compromise” between the preferences of all 3 hoops has the best chance of getting you to the finish line.

Two key takeaways from this section:

Whenever you hear of a Secure Work strategy, ask yourself

“Will it help me get through all 3 hoops better?”

Contrast the simplicity of a question like:

“How long should my resume be?”

with the thoroughness and complexity of my answer above. Now apply this to every step along the path from where you are now to securing work. Do you see the massive advantage you could have by working with a Coach over someone who is not?