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Hiring in the age of AI: What makes it and breaks it

Hiring in the age of AI

In the earlier days, applying for a job was relatively simple: I would print out a fancy resume, dress smartly, and prepare for an in-person interview. However, those old rules no longer apply for hiring in the age of AI.

The Transformation

Digital technologies have radically transformed the employment landscape over the last two decades. Now, the hiring and recruitment process is dominated by automated software, colossal professional databases, and one-click applications. One of the key players in this transformation is the Applicant Tracking System (ATS), also known as a resume robot. This online assistant helps hiring managers write job descriptions, scan resumes, and schedule interviews. With advancements in artificial intelligence, employers are increasingly relying on predictive analytics, machine learning, and complex algorithms to evaluate candidates’ skills and estimate their performance. It has become common for applicants to be rejected by an ATS before being connected with a human in human resources.

The rise of AI recruitment tools is driven by several factors. Hiring managers face budget constraints in their HR departments while dealing with a growing pool of applicants due to the economic downturn and the expansion of remote work after the pandemic. As automated software takes pivotal decisions about employment without much oversight, it raises concerns about privacy, accountability, and transparency.

The Process

For job seekers, AI-powered hiring software remains a mystery. They may invest time in online applications only to receive generic rejection emails without feedback. This lack of understanding and control over the process is disempowering. However, technology can be both a curse and a blessing, depending on how it is used. Online tools, such as resume-boosting software and generative AI platforms for cover letters, help applicants avoid rejection and increase their chances of success. Algorithm-based career platforms like LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed offer more job opportunities than ever before, opening up avenues for job seekers to adapt to this changing landscape.

While automation plays a significant role in the hiring process, most experts believe that recruitment remains a human-driven process. Tailoring applications for an ATS helps applicants get their foot in the door, but they still need to compete with other candidates. Job seekers have always faced challenges in the hiring process, with or without AI. Understanding the rules of the game won’t change that fact, but it can give applicants an advantage.

Career coaches and resume writers help job seekers navigate the unfamiliar and impersonal application process. They work with clients to improve their resumes and provide guidance on how to beat the ATS. Large-volume hiring often involves the use of an Applicant Tracking System, which scans, collects, and sorts resumes, allowing hiring managers to screen candidates efficiently. For larger corporations, automation relieves administrative tasks, increases efficiency, and reduces costs. However, the ATS relies on keyword matching, and applicants with lower matches are often rejected, even if they are qualified for the job. Recency and timing also play a role, as candidates who are active on job platforms and respond quickly to job openings have a better chance of success.

The Challenges

The lack of transparency and regulation surrounding AI hiring tools raises ethical concerns. Software vendors are responsible for testing the tools, but independent oversight is minimal. Concerns about bias and discrimination arise, particularly against women, ethnic minorities, and people with disabilities. Regulatory bodies like the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are playing catch-up in developing guidelines for AI hiring tools to comply with federal anti-discrimination laws. Prioritizing informed consent and regular audits could help address these concerns.

To navigate the hiring process, job seekers can leverage various online tools and platforms. These tools, such as resume scanners, skill-building software, and coaching platforms, streamline the application process and save time and energy. While these tools provide advantages, they also raise questions about fairness and leveling the playing field.

The final word

Despite the rise of automation, human elements such as personal assessment, judgment, and trust-building remain crucial in the hiring process. Technology only helps as far as facilitating and reducing the work load, and it is up to the human judgement to make a final judgement on the candidate.

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