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How Employers Are Using AI to Make Hiring Decisions

Artificial intelligence (AI) is replacing traditional applicant tracking software (ATS) as the preferred tool for recruiters to review resumés and screen candidates.

As a job seeker, you need to understand this change, why it’s important, and how to pass successfully through these systems to get your resumé in front of a human recruiter.

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What is applicant tracking software?

ATS is software designed for human resources teams and recruiters. It first emerged in the 1990s. ATS sorts and ranks resumés, collecting information about each applicant. It uses keywords as well as criteria set by the recruiter for the job requirements. The system then sorts applicants based on experience and skill set, which helps recruiters pick the most qualified candidates for an interview.

Here are a few methods that have helped job seekers through ATS screening successfully in the past:

  • Use as many exact keywords from the job posting in your resumé as possible.
  • Use both acronyms and long-form terms (for example, “research and development” and “R&D”).
  • Format your resumé simply and use familiar section titles such as “Qualifications.”
  • List work history, most recent first, and toward the top.

These methods help traditional ATS find relevant information. Essentially, the software looks for exact word matches in familiar places.

Why is AI more advanced, and what can it do?

AI technology is being built into ATS, creating AI ATS. New recruitment and AI systems are also emerging. AI will now do what ATS used to do, only better, and more besides. AI is taking these systems to the next level.

A Korn Ferry survey found that 63% of recruiters already believe AI has changed how recruitment happens in their organization. This will impact how you, the applicant, are ranked by AI or ATS and whether a human recruiter views your resumé.

Screen resumés accurately

AI also looks for keywords, skills, and experience in resumés, but it's more powerful than previous machine learning systems. It can recognize broader matches and more general terms because it understands context and language nuances.

AI is far more accurate at identifying relevant skills and qualifications. It can also review thousands of resumés in minutes and even predict whether an applicant will be successful in a role.

Reduce bias in recruiting

AI candidate screening tools can reduce bias and discrimination in recruitment practices. Recruiters can include or exclude certain candidates without meaning to. They may not even realize that they are doing it. AI can be programmed to ignore demographic information such as gender, race, or even socioeconomic status, which can be guessed from addresses and schools.

However, AI’s fairness relies on its being trained on unbiased data, so human oversight is also essential. There are still risks associated with AI.

Help with communication and scheduling

AI-powered recruiting systems can also write job ads and update them, communicate with applicants, and schedule interviews. This improves the hiring process for you, the applicant, and also for the recruiter.

In the near future, AI might conduct your first interview and assess you based on facial expression analysis.

How is relevant hiring legislation changing?

As AI tools become more important in hiring, governments are looking to regulate AI more effectively.

For example, the Government of Ontario is introducing legislation that requires employers to disclose whether recruiters use AI. And New York City has passed a law requiring companies using automated employment decision systems to pass a bias audit.

How to get past AI and in front of a hiring manager

AI-powered recruitment and screening tools can detect when job seekers use too many keywords, known as “keyword stuffing.” This technique for getting past ATS platforms will become less popular as recruiters move to using AI tools.

AI can recognize when you naturally include relevant skills and experience in your resumé. It will also look at the names of companies you have worked for to judge if they relate to a new job. It can assess how far along you are in your career and even how close you live to a new job.

Instead of trying to beat an algorithm, it’s still best to apply for jobs that are a good fit for your skills, knowledge, and experience. A combination of AI and human recruiters will be able to tell if you meet the job requirements.

And traditional best practices for resumé writing still apply. For example:

  • Make sure your resumé is well written and up to date.
  • Include all relevant skills and experience.
  • Tailor your resumé and cover letter to the job.
  • Write a powerful objective statement.
  • Show that your work history supports your skills.

Just as AI is helping recruiters, it can help you with your work search. You can also use AI to craft a great resumé and cover letter.

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