Human contact, whether through professional networking, social connections, or by earned reputation still matters significantly and should in no way be minimized when describing the recruitment and hiring process. If anything, it’s paramount. However, another very important track to cover when developing one’s career is the one driven by existing and emerging technologies meant to streamline and optimize the employment process.
Today this ranges from online job boards advertising positions, to Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) that parse resumes for HR and recruiters, and now Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning tools, designed to assess the employability of candidates. How to advantageously position yourself for these digital aides and gatekeepers needs to be a key component of a well-planned career growth strategy. Let’s take a current look at each of these technical features.
Online job boards are not very new, in short supply, or complicated. They are little more than interactive web sites that post job descriptions from employers. More recent are job search engines like Indeed and Simply Hired that rummage the internet aggregating job postings from a variety of sources.
These sites are seductive in that they give the appearance of a job store with profuse amounts of positions just ready for you to pick up while shopping. A common and ineffective ploy is to spend hours responding to jobs on the boards with the only thing generated being recruiters trying to lure you to high turnover 100% commission sales jobs. Nonetheless, working with job boards is not a complete waste of time and decent jobs can be yielded. Recommended is to spend about 10% to 20% of your job search time utilizing the boards by being careful and discriminating in what you respond to.
ATS software allows recruiters to organize vast lists of applicants and their pertinent criteria such as qualifications, employment history, degrees earned, etc., which are most useful to hiring managers when determining who to contact for interviews. For those of us trying to secure an interview we need to be mindful of preparing resumes that are keyword-rich with contextually used terms aligning our skills and knowledge with responsibilities and deliverables mentioned in job descriptions.
Therefore, given the need for an ATS-friendly resume that simultaneously is attractive for human readers the challenge is to strike a visually appealing format that won’t confuse the ATS. This can be tricky. If you want a designer resume that looks like those on a photo collection website, then forget about passing ATS muster. And with so many companies employing ATS the best strategy may be to pay homage to the many conditions needed to not be digitally rejected in a millisecond, while adding enough optics, and of course solid content, to not have your resume look like just another slice of white bread. Achieving this level of resume optimization is a necessary goal.
The latest trend, which is expected to proliferate in use and sophistication, involves the impact of AI in hiring decision making. There is a growing perception that relying on a candidate’s skills alone is not consistently producing better employees. The evolving thought is to assess personality more with the goal of finding a well rounded and compatible colleague. To this end, AI is being deployed to identify personality traits gleaned from resumes, online profiles, social media presences, video appearances, you name it. Apparently, this is seen as less biased than human observers. We shall see. (Can’t algorithms be biased too?)
At any rate, developing a consistent brand and value proposition that includes both your technical talents and your work style/interpersonal characteristics across all platforms may be wise for presenting to human and technological appraisers alike.
Being prepared for the changes and encroachment of technology into hiring decisions, and by extension career development, has become an imperative in today’s employment world.