You can use A.I. to land a job, but be careful: ‘It can backfire,’ career expert Suzy Welch says


There are signs the labor market is cooling down, but job seekers may still have an edge as demand for workers remains strong — and artificial intelligence can serve as a tool in the process.

Despite the worries that artificial intelligence will eliminate jobs, these advanced software systems can give you the upper hand if you understand how companies are using them in the hiring process and make smart use of them yourself, career experts said.

However, these tools should be used with caution.

“There are definitely ways that you should use it in your job search, but there are ways that it can backfire,” career expert Suzy Welch said.

What’s going on in the job market

The U.S. economy added 209,000 jobs in June, while the unemployment rate trickled down to 3.6%. Even though the number of jobs came in lower than expected, it demonstrated “a strong but moderate demand,” showing signs that the labor market is “moderating in a sustainable fashion,” said Indeed economist Nick Bunker.

“Nothing is guaranteed, but the U.S. labor market continues to point toward a slower, but more sustainable pace of economic growth,” Bunker said.

The median duration for unemployment was roughly flat, meaning it took slightly longer for some workers to find a job, compared with last year, when people were landing jobs very rapidly, he said.

“In many ways, the labor market of 2021 and 2022 was an anomaly and isn’t really a good baseline for understanding what a sustainable and healthy labor market looks like,” said Bunker.

Practice with A.I. to excel in candidate interviews

The pandemic drove the adoption of digital interviewing via Zoom and other platforms, said Will Rose, chief technology officer at Talent Select AI. As part of that, the use of AI tools that provide different types of analysis for those interviews are becoming more embedded.

AI-led or fully automated interviewing processes are being adopted, but the companies using this technology remain a minority for now, said Rose.

More often, a company might use AI systems that look at different things designed to identify top applicants, he said. For asynchronous interviews — video interviews where you either talk to a machine or upload recorded answers — the artificial intelligence software focuses specifically on words used by the candidate.

With that in mind, research certain keywords relevant for that job and incorporate them in your interview answers, speaking to the areas that are in the job posting, Rose said.

“Highlight why you as a candidate shine,” he said. Underscore your qualifications, and ensure you give robust answers and anecdotes in the process.

You can also use AI tools as a personal assistant researcher to help you prepare for an interview, said Welch, who is also a CNBC contributor.

“Some AI tools will coach you before the interview. You should use every tool to practice,” she said.

Even if you’re not speaking with a human being in real time, still dress and speak as if you’re in a formal, in-person interview and be mindful of elements such as background and lighting. These videos are often still reviewed by recruiters and hiring managers, Rose said.

Don’t trust A.I. to write your resume, cover letter

In the same way a candidate might seek out a resume coach or consultant who will help prepare them for the job interview, a candidate should not shy away from seeking help in AI technology for these purposes — however, don’t trust the AI to completely write the documents.

“I think you really can hurt yourself [in areas] by using AI — and one is in your cover letter,” Welch said.

Hiring managers and recruiters who receive correspondence that is clearly completely written by software can be turned off by that, said Welch, especially if the AI plagiarizes portions or includes errors or falsehoods.

Companies are looking for authenticity in candidates, and submitting material completely engineered by bots will not “push you to the top of the pile,” she said.

Instead of letting AI take the reins, use it as a starting point to ensure you have all the right keywords and both your resume and cover letter have proper structures. Afterward, review and add your own words.

“AI doesn’t know your experience and ... the certain specific anecdotes that highlight why you’re a great candidate,” Rose said.

Ask hiring managers how A.I. is used in the process

New York City recently enacted a law that requires companies to conduct a bias audit in the AI system, make the results public, clarify the involvement of AI in the hiring process for job seekers, and specify the type of data they collect and its use.

“Because New York City is the largest city in the country, this new law is having national implications,” Rose said.

In the meantime, he said, candidates should not be afraid to ask hiring managers if AI played a role in the hiring process and how those systems are being used in the decision process until more transparency laws take effect.

“It’s fair game,” he said.

In fact, both parties — the employer and candidate — should avoid leaning too hard on the use of AI in the hiring process.

“There should be some caution in terms of fully automating that [process] and taking that human element out,” Rose said. “It’s more about the experience that you’re giving to the candidate.”

“Whether AI exists [in the hiring process] or not, the jobs always go to the most prepared candidates who come in with the best sense of the job,” he said.

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