I always thought battling sinister, impersonal artificial intelligences would involve dodging laser fire and going back in time to foil plans by robots to assassinate James Cameron’s wife..
But here I am trying to apply for jobs, only to find myself attempting to outwit computer programs designed to sift through key words in CVs and cover letters!
This is a) way less exciting than the movies and b) Arnold Schwarzenegger lied to me!
In this wonderful world of applying for jobs, paying companies to come up with a CV and fine-tuning killer cover letters, I have discovered I may have been wasting a good part of my time.
Because it’s easier than ever for people to apply for jobs, companies with vacancies receive far too many CVs and cover letters to realistically read.
So, they have computer systems to automatically sift them and reject any that don’t fit the job description.
When chatting to someone from a large recruitment company, I was told that my CV (which I had PAID a company to design by the way) was probably not being read by a human being.
“Uh, how come?” I asked in befuddlement. “I paid good money to a resume writing company to take my details and come up with something that would stand out”.
The consultant told me that the company had put a table summarising my career achievements at the top, and the algorithms that artificially “read” document automatically reject anything non-standard like a table.
“That might explain why you aren’t getting interviews, because the CV itself reads well and you have plenty of great skills and experience” she said sympathetically.
She went on to tell me about a company that sells a program which reads your CV, then compares it against the wording of the job description and key selection criteria, then tells you what key words (and what number of them) to shoehorn into your CV in order to fool the company’s program, which just looks for and counts the right key words.
“So, I’d be buying one computer program to trick another computer program, in order to get an actual human being to read my CV?”
She had the grace to admit the situation was less than ideal, but with the sheer volume of applications nowadays, companies don’t have a choice.
The Skynet AI won’t have to launch all our nukes to destroy humankind, all it has to do to enslave us all is ensure that no applicants for jobs get through this system, and instead suggest that companies invest in greater automation, run by … computer programs!
I did speak to one actual human being recently about my job search, a terrific bloke called Matt Harrison from Melbourne recruitment agency Hope & Glory.
They tend to deal with higher end job seekers looking for more senior roles in my area which is Communications; and by rights he didn’t really need to return my call as I’m applying for more mid-level positions.
But he did respond and spent some time giving me excellent advice and even some much-needed encouragement.
Sometimes you need human contact to get fired up about fighting back against the machines.
All I can say is – I’ll be back!