As employees look toward 2024, many will be looking for a new job. But ensuring their resume gets seen by a recruiter may take some high-tech editing in today's market. Resume writers
Today, 97% of employers use applicant tracking systems in their recruitment processes, which weed out resumes that aren't closely aligned with keywords and skills listed in job descriptions. Employees should take advantage of AI to potentially outsmart these bots, while also leveraging their skills and experience in the most effective way.
"A big point of frustration for job seekers is that they're not getting a positive response to their resumes, but one of the biggest mistakes is not tailoring your resume for each individual job to which you applied," says Keith Spencer, career expert at Flexjobs. "But there are some things you could do to tailor more effectively, and using AI as a job search assistant can be a game changer."
Read more: 9 resume red flags that scare off recruiters
Spencer says job seekers may have misconceptions about AI, namely that the technology should be writing resumes and cover letters for them. However, the tool should be used as "an idea generator" to analyze job descriptions and streamline an applicant's experiences and skills.
"When you're reading something that's completely AI-generated, you can typically tell it's not a human that wrote it — it doesn't really sound natural and it lacks your personal touch," Spencer says. "What I like to use it for is an idea generator to help break through writer's block, or use it as a research assistant to analyze those job descriptions."
Spencer recommends experimenting with free tools to get a sense of where AI will be useful. To write an effective AI prompt, applicants should emphasize any key points AI should consider, and describe the key audience they hope to reach. Applicants can also input a cover letter into an AI generator so the resume is closely aligned there, too. Uploading a sample resume from a similar role can also give the AI guidelines to highlighting relevant metrics.
"AI can give you insights that you don't have — maybe I'm making a career change to a role I've never done before, but I have a lot of transferable skills that would make me well-qualified for it," Spencer says. "I could use an AI tool to provide me with a sample resume and use it as my own idea generator for things that I should be talking about."
Read more: 49% of CEOs say AI could do the bulk of their work. What does it mean for the C-suite?
In his own experience, Spencer has used AI to craft a "master resume" based on his own skills, and then tailors each version to more closely match the job description. He also uses AI to help him craft a professional summary for the top of a resume to quickly capture a recruiter's attention with notable skills and experience that take into account the specific role descriptions.
"You want to understand your audience and convey information about yourself that's going to be relevant and impactful by mentioning skills or competencies that are mentioned in the job description," he says. "Continually assess what's working and what's not, what improvements you can make and what new strategies you can try."
Read more: A step-by-step guide to implementing AI at work
Applicants should still be careful to not rely too heavily on AI suggestions — often, AI will make up qualifications or skills an employee doesn't actually have or fabricate performance metrics. Applicants should review any content the AI creates to make sure it's accurate, and sounds personalized.
"Ask yourself, Does this sound like me? Would I write this way?" Spencer says. "And if you can't confidently say yes, then you should probably be changing quite a bit of it."