The New World of A.I.

Writing a resume for an internship or job is a daunting task – regardless of your level of experience and knowledge, the idea of summarizing your credentials onto a single page of paper has inspired thousands of online searches for help. In fact, Google Trends reports a 100% increase in ‘how to make a resume online,’ and a 350% increase in ‘how to make a resume with no work experience’ in just this past year! Just in case that task wasn’t overwhelming enough, people looking for jobs have a whole new obstacle to overcome:

Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Long from being restricted to sci-fi movies, AI and algorithms are making strides in helping employers scour the numerous resumes flooding hiring websites. Computerized Applicant Systems, or ATS, are changing the hiring market – and potentially, not for the better. In brief words, ATS scans resumes and looks for keywords and phrases on the resume. The resume is then given a numerical rating and sorted from there. Some of the ATS systems will forward the resume to hiring personnel, but others can start the interview process themselves! 

So, who is using these high-tech systems? The bigger the company, the greater the chance they are being used. The algorithms are made to aid with narrowing the huge influx of resumes that companies see every day, but without the human element in the equation anymore (excuse the pun), new biases and issues arise. While in theory the algorithms are helping prevent biases and increase diversity, studies are showing that in many cases, they are repeating the biases of the companies – or creating their very own! Algorithms will, on their own, find coincidences that then become biased – such as targeting race or gender based on previous job history and online behavior. These concerns that ATS are creating and amplifying biases in hiring have started to gain political attention. A bill in New York City would force employers to inform applicants that they are using ATS, and companies that sell ATS systems would have to audit their software yearly to clear it of any biased behavior. 

But the algorithms aren’t all bad. “…researchers found that while fair ranking algorithms like FairDet-Greedy are helpful in boosting the number of underrepresented candidates hired..” Awesome! “…their effectiveness is limited by the job contexts in which employers have a preference for particular genders.” Not so awesome. Like so many aspects of job hiring, there’s no single, clear answer. Algorithms are algorithms; judging a human candidate in this manner cannot expect to be a flawless system. 

For now, though, this practice is here to stay. So how do you tackle this when making your resume? It’s simple! The algorithms scan your resume, looking for keywords that the employer has specified. ATS gets confused with fancy fonts, colors, and columns. As boring as it may seem to our eyes, a simplistic black and white resume with a standard font is easier for these systems. They are also looking for the keywords that the employer is after – so when editing your resume, make sure you research the company and adjust accordingly! It’s not a perfect work around – simple wording may help, but these algorithms get confused rather simply, and may toss your resume out for fancy word choice and formatting. It’s an unfortunate and flawed system, but moving ahead with knowledge will help you get one step closer to that dream job!

By: Maggie Driscoll

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