Should You Use A.I. to Apply for Jobs?

by Guest Author, Nick Kolakowski

What if you could apply for thousands of jobs with a single mouse-click?

That dream is driving a new generation of A.I.-powered startups that allow job candidates to apply for jobs with a minimum of time and effort. A recent article in Wired breaks down how these companies will use their trained bots to help applicants write and send applications to jobs that meet certain criteria.

According to Wired, a software engineer named Julian Joseph recently used one such tool, called LazyApply, to apply for 1,000 jobs in less than a day. Eventually, LazyApply would fire off 5,000 applications on Joseph’s behalf, earning 20 interviews. “Compared to the 20 interviews he’d landed after manually applying to 200 to 300 jobs, the success rate was dismal,” the article continued. “But given the time Job GPT saved, Joseph felt it was worth the investment.”

These kinds of stories spark the inevitable question: is it worth entrusting a critical part of your job hunt—crafting your application materials and sending them off to a recruiter or HR specialist—to an A.I.?

The Upside of A.I. of A.I.-Powered Job Applications

Over the past several years, the process of applying for jobs has become exponentially more complicated. Many companies force you to upload your resume and fill out a redundant online form breaking down your skills and experience. Automated resume software may delete your perfectly acceptable resume because you didn’t include the right selection of keywords. And poorly written job postings and documentation can make it difficult to determine what an employer actually wants out of a candidate.

At first glance, bots that apply for jobs might seem like the perfect antidote to this aggravating situation. Who wouldn’t want a virtual assistant who finds the best jobs and fires off applications in the time it takes to make a decent cup of coffee? Just think of what you could do with the time savings.

However, there are a number of downsides to this A.I. revolution—and those could ultimately hurt your chances of landing the job of your dreams.

The Inevitable Downside of A.I.-Powered Job Applications

There’s something to be said about quality over quantity.

It’s worth seeing things from the perspective of the (human) recruiter or hiring manager who, at a certain point, will read your resume and application. They’ll want to know why you want this specific job. How do the job’s requirements align with your past experience and skillset? Why are you interested in this job over a thousand others?

For all of its potential benefits, generative A.I. lacks context and awareness; it doesn’t know which elements of your experience are more relevant to a particular job, and it can’t determine whether listing one skill over another would impress a hiring manager more. Although 46 percent of job seekers are already using ChatGPT to generate a resume or cover letter (according to one survey from earlier this year), just relying on a A.I.-generated resume or cover letter usually won’t yield results: you need to customize such documents to both the job and your background, or the potential employer will reject it as too generic.

Plus, when you “hand apply” to different positions, you have time to check your grammar, spelling, and whether you’re inputting the right information into the right fields. All of those things can boost your chances of landing an interview.

While it takes more time to customize a resume and submit it to a promising company, you’ll likely achieve better results than if you leave the process to an A.I.-powered bot. A “spray and pray” approach to applications won’t result in a happier or more lucrative career.

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About the author: Nick Kolakowski has spent his career at the intersection of tech, media, and popular culture. His work with major media brands, the federal government, aggressive startups, and tech companies gives him strategic insights into how publications can be optimized for maximum engagement. He prides himself on working effectively with skilled journalists, insightful data scientists and analysts, pioneering generative A.I. experts, and others to figure out how media and publications will evolve in coming years. You can find him on LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/in/nick-kolakowski-b405501/.

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