Your job search is becoming less human. Here’s how to adapt.

Imagine you’re a job seeker looking for work. You submit your resume to a company’s website.

Your resume is scanned by AI that evaluates your resume against the job description. Then it compares your qualifications to a database of current employees’ qualifications. The algorithm also pulls in some publicly available data about you, like your social media profiles. It scores you based on that data and your resume. Your score puts you above the competition. Your resume isn’t reviewed by a recruiter.

Next you get a text on your phone. It’s the company and they’re asking if you have time to answer a few questions. You answer a few basic questions about your professional experience and interest in the role. You realize it’s a chatbot half way through but you’re just happy to avoid the awkward phone interview.

You make the cut again. You receive an automated email with a link to an online video interview platform and instructions. You record your answer to the interview questions. It’s awkward to stare at yourself on the screen. There are no visual or verbal cues to see how your answers land. Your responses are recorded. An algorithm analyzes the video, reviewing your micro expressions and looking at 25,000 possible data points to evaluate your personality and fit within the company. Your video response is scored by the algorithm.

Then you get an email from the recruiter. You’ve passed all the steps. They’d like to invite your for a day in the life experience at their company.

The visit is the first and last opportunity you’ll have to interact with a person in your entire job search.

Back to reality. The scenario above isn’t totally hypothetical. It’s reflective of the current hiring process evolution. Companies are increasingly adopting HR tech that uses AI to automate the hiring process and make it more efficient. For example, here’s what hiring looks like at Unilever:

Candidates learn about the jobs online through outlets like Facebook or LinkedIn and submit their LinkedIn profiles — no résumé required. They then spend about 20 minutes playing 12 neuroscience-based games on the Pymetrics platform. If their results match the required profile of a certain position, they move on to an interview via HireVue, where they record responses to preset interview questions. The technology analyzes things like keywords, intonation, and body language, and makes notes on them for the hiring manager. All of this can be completed on a smartphone or tablet.

If the candidate makes it through these two steps, they are invited to a Unilever office to go through a day-in-the-life scenario. By the end of the day, a manager will decide whether they are the right fit for the job.

A fundamental shift in hiring is under way and it’s powered by machine learning. From resume screening by AI to interview chatbots to predictive analytics that determine who’s most likely to leave a job, the list of startups transforming the hiring process is long. Over half of HR tech investments in 2017 went to companies offering products and services powered by AI. Companies like Entelo, an AI recruiting platform, use machine learning to determine whether you’re a fit for an organization. Entelo’s knowledge base provides a few hints on how the AI will evaluate you:

The shift to automation is making the hiring process less human. As a job seeker it’s not always obvious when AI is used as part of the hiring process. You might not know if your professional qualifications are being evaluated by a human or an algorithm. To stay competitive as the hiring process evolves job seekers need to stay informed and adapt as new HR technology enters the market.

Here’s how to start.

Get curious about HR Tech

Explore the range of new HR technology that’s being used in the hiring process. Get curious about how these tools are used. Then experiment with new HR technology that also helps job seekers. Tools like Jobscan and VMOCK are valuable resources that use machine learning to help your improve your resume. There’s even a promise of a chatbot to help you navigate your career.

Next, research which companies are using machine learning for hiring so you can prepare accordingly. Right now big companies with large resume volumes are the ideal automation customers. Smaller businesses and startups aren’t using them as much yet. Some HR tech products list which companies use their services. Before you apply to a job, email a recruiter or ask a current employee about their hiring process so you know up front whether you’ll be engaging with a machine or a human.

600+ companies in 140 countries use HireVue.

Be prepared to go beyond resumes

The resume isn’t going away any time soon but the application process is evolving to evaluate you on more than your resume. Instead of submitting a resume, candidates are taking part in hiring assessments like Pymetrics, a collection of that neuroscience games that “collect millions of data points, objectively measuring cognitive and personality traits.” Tools like Entelo assess your social media data as part of the application process:

AI Recruiting on Entelo

Creating professional content so the HR bots can find and evaluate you could make you a more competitive candidate than a resume alone. Start by producing small bits of content online. Create a personal website, show off a portfolio online, write short blog posts, or share articles on Twitter related to your professional interests to be seen by the bots.

Ask hard questions about AI and HR technology 

There are plenty of ethical questions we need to ask about AI and reinforcing bias in recruiting. Job seekers can contribute by asking hard questions too. Sometimes it’s as simple as asking how.

How do algorithms score candidates? How are candidates screened out of the process? How do candidates rank if they don’t have online profiles or publicly available data for algorithms to find? How would a candidate beat the AI system? How much do hiring managers trust their AI recommendations and scoring? How do these platforms reinforce existing bias?

Then ask yourself the hard questions: Are you getting all the information you need in the hiring process – company culture, opportunity for growth, management styles – to make an informed decision? Does an automated candidate experience make you more or less likely to want to work for a new company?

Become an actor

One question they get frequently, said Lindsey Zuloaga, director of data science at HireVue, is if an applicant is able to trick the A.I. Her answer: “If you can game being excited about and interested in the job, yes, you could game that with a person as well,” she said. “You’re not going to game it without being a very good actor.”

Employers seek candidates with strong soft skills. As more employers delegate emotional intelligence screening to automated tools you need to ensure you’re expressing that emotional intelligence. Start by recording yourself so you know how you look, talk, and express yourself on screen. Pay attention to your tone, body language, and facial expressions. Learn how to build your soft skills to improve your emotional intelligence. Spend more time interacting with people to improve your communication skills outside of digital environments. You might even want to take some acting or improv lessons to get comfortable showing those necessary emotions.

Cultivate those professional relationships

Will recruiters eschew a recommendation from a human in favor of their AI scoring system? Do AI hiring platforms incorporate internal recommendations into their scoring model? We don’t know. So for now we can assume that internal referrals via professional relationships might be a way to beat the algorithms (or at least, get around it). More importantly those professional relationships take on greater importance the more automated the hiring process becomes. Conversations with people inside of companies give you valuable insights. Discussions with current employers also give you a feel for company culture and management style, making up for the insights you lose in an automated process.

Sharpen your persuasion skills 

We’re not in a fully automated hiring process (yet). Job seekers still have a chance to engage with humans during their search. But the hiring process is evolving and making some career advice outdated. When you finally get in front of an employer it might not be what you expected (i.e. those behavioral interview questions you memorized might not be as relevant in the future). But one thing won’t change: once you engage with a human you still have to persuade them that you’re the best person for the job. Your job search has always been an act of persuasion. That much hasn’t changed. After you learn the new automated systems focus on building your persuasion skills. Reflect on what the companies needs and how you meet that need. Learn how to tell an engaging professional story that connects your interests to your future team’s needs. Show employers your intellectual curiosity and passion as you ask questions about the role. Seek out new conversational opportunities so you get better at engaging with people from different backgrounds.

We all need to pay attention to the way hiring is changing. With millennials looking at a lifetime of job hopping, we’re going to have adapt fast to new hiring processes. The traditional way of doing things won’t always work. As this article so cleverly points out:

“those first impressions so carefully emphasized by career coaches are now being outsourced to artificial intelligence.”

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