Industry Insight: Job Hunting Could Someday Resemble 'Black Mirror'

Finding the right candidate to fill an open position is difficult, even with the right technology. With dozens of viable job boards, easily findable corporate pages, LinkedIn, and good old fashioned word-of-mouth, the number of applications and resumes finding their ways to recruiters can be overwhelming. The best human resources (HR) software and management systems and applicant tracking (AT) tools help recruiters find candidates and parse candidate information in a way that makes the recruitment process easier and more intelligent.

I spoke with Dan Arkind, co-founder and CEO of AT recruiting software company JobScore about the future of recruiting. We discussed the technology that recruiters are using to find and lure candidates, and why the future of job hunting could become a dystopian nightmare if left unchecked.

PCMag (PCM): Online job boards and social media have dramatically changed the way people find and land jobs over the past 10 years. In what ways do you envision the industry changing over the next 10 years, specifically with regards to candidates finding their next great job?

Dan Arkind (DA): Products will continue to reflect the needs of the economy. There will be people in extremely high demand who really never have to look for a job; they will have amazing opportunities presented to them from trusted sources the way they want and employers will pay for the privilege. The rest of us will need to find ways to use our social connections and reputation to stand out from the crowd. For a cautionary tale of this going wrong, watch the Black Mirror episode "Nosedive" on Netflix, [which is set in a world where people can rate each other from one to five stars for every interaction they have].

PCM: How will artificial intelligence (AI) change the ways recruiters and companies find and place candidates? Have companies started incorporating this technology into their candidate searches in any capacity?

DA: AI has been used in recruiting for several decades. Common uses include resume parsing, keyword analysis, location filtering, concept-based matching, activity and semantic analysis, and much more. We'll just continue to see more companies use more techniques in more parts of the recruiting process. The most likely change you'll see next is the use of chatbots to automate candidate communications. This technology is starting to work pretty well in customer service and you'll certainly see it become more prevalent in recruiting in the next decade.

Furthermore, as AI becomes smarter and more commonplace, labor markets will become even more efficient. In two generations, we've seen employment go from lifelong relationships to having two-year stints become the norm. Employee tenure will likely get even shorter, and you'll see the relationship between employers and employees transform into more and more of a gig economy. High-demand, skilled, white-collar workers will become more project-oriented because the ability to find and bid for the skills you need—when you need them—will change the landscape of work itself. Your company is likely going to have to get better at selling and paying people to complete each project because it's getting easier and easier for people to jump ship.

PCM: One of my favorite aspects of AT software is the ability to pull in candidate data from multiple sources including candidate-created social media profiles. Where else should we envision AT tools pulling in data in the future to ensure the best candidates reach recruiters?

DA: It is of questionable legality to review someone's social media profiles or other online information unless this information was specifically given by the candidate. The definitive case law for this has not been set. If your organization is doing this, you should stop. Immediately. And dump the vendor that does this automatically without the job seeker's consent because they aren't looking out for your best interests. That said, it will become increasingly common for organizations to request consent to review online profiles (essentially asking people's permission to use them). It's also likely that candidates who give this consent will get considered first. This is because there is a huge treasure trove of information about someone in their online profiles that can be used to figure out if they are the right fit. Recruitment selection tools will integrate with any data source that will facilitate great decisions. So, wherever the market goes, recruiting will be there.

PCM: How has mobile job application submission, and even mobile application accepting and rejecting, impacted the AT landscape? Will we all be submitting applications from Apple Watches someday? What's next in the immediate term?

DA: Mobile device penetration in First World countries is over 80 percent of the adult population. The revolution already happened. If your recruiting experience is not mobile-optimized, you are riding a bicycle on a highway full of Lamborghinis. The application process has been optimized to pull data from other sources for some time. For hard-to-fill jobs, many employers are removing the application form entirely, instead creating a one-click "I'm interested" button that pulls information from online profiles (with consent) and auto-completes an application for the candidate. Bottom line: You can apply for a job from your Apple Watch today, and it's getting easier and easier for job seekers to express interest with very little, if any, data entry—if you set up your tools to work that way.

What's likely next is better targeting of recruitment advertising based on interests and location, and more pleasant application and interviewing experiences for candidates. Employer-facing productivity technology has also made the jump to mobile. The best tools already allow hiring managers to review, contact, and interview candidates from their smartphone.

PCM: What advice would you give job searchers to help ensure their resumes and profiles are AT-optimized? Is there a certain type of online presence that performs best? Should resumes be in Microsoft Word and not Google Doc? What's the ideal AT-proof profile?

DA: Bottom line: You can't trick the technology but you should put your best foot forward. Resume parsers are designed to extract information about your background, including past employers, job titles, employment dates, schools, degrees, and more. If you have progressive skills or noteworthy accomplishments, you should include them in simple, short, easy-to-read, single-clause sentences underneath each job.

Microsoft Word is still the most common format, and you should keep the formatting to a minimum, use a Serif font, and don't do anything fancy (unless you are a graphic designer). The best AT systems transform your resume into a standard file format so I wouldn't even worry about it. Just keep it simple and easy to read. Your resume layout should be boring and easy for computers and humans to read.

If you want to make things really easy, update your LinkedIn profile to 100 percent complete and use it to apply for jobs. We see more and more people not even bothering to include a resume and just pointing at their public online identity instead. The way to get your application to stand out is not to massage your employment and education past, which you can't change, or use a fancy font. Instead, try to connect with people at the company through people you already know and ask them to endorse your application. Finally, write an earth-shatteringly awesome custom cover letter. You'd be shocked how few people do this and the high success rate of people who do this well. Relationships and messaging are the path to the top of the resume pile, not trying to beat the technology that employers use to make their life easier.

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