On December 15, Nikunj Verma, CEO and Co-Founder of CutShort.io, presented a Simplilearn career webinar, Job Search in World of AI: Recruitment Secrets and Resume Tips Revealed for 2021. As the leader of India’s go-to hiring platform for companies hiring quality talent, he brought his unique insights into how job-seekers should adjust their search strategies to adapt to AI-driven evaluation.
Current Recruitment Trends
In 2020, the activity on the CutShort platform was building from 2019. When the pandemic hit, activity declined, reaching a low point in the lockdown period from March to April. However, beginning in May, activity began to recover, and by October, it was much higher than the January level.
As the pandemic took hold, 25% of companies, mainly in badly-affected sectors like travel and hospitality, laid off employees. Another 45% of companies in less-affected sectors still put hiring on pause.
Looking ahead to 2021, as companies and employees have adapted to the pandemic and as vaccines seem to be on their way, there should be a significant rebound in hiring. The worst of the impact of the pandemic fell on non-essential and support functions. Even during the pandemic, there has been a substantial demand for skilled professionals. Professionals who are domain-agnostic and not tied to a particular sector had the flexibility to move out of the hardest-hit sectors and find opportunities in ones that were impacted less (or even growing).
Career Lessons From the Pandemic
Nikunj offered advice developed from the experience of the pandemic. Even in the worst times, you can take steps to protect your career.
First, be the best you can be in your chosen work area. You should choose your area of concentration strategically, which includes choosing one that gives you inspiration and satisfaction. If you’ve done that, you should then make an effort to upskill and make yourself the best in that area so that you have a reputation for great work.
Second, domain knowledge is good, but working in multiple domains is better. Having cross-functional and cross-domain experience gives you the opportunity to shift out of declining sectors and into growing ones.
Third, seek to work in a profit center rather than a cost center. Try to work in an area aligned with revenue where your continued employment means the company makes more money.
Fourth, choose a profession measured by its business impact and not by the number of hours worked. In the former, a good worker is a source of business success, whereas in the latter, a good worker is still a business expense.
Fifth, number of years of experience is an asset, but only when you plan for it. The years of experience have to be matched with skills and contribution to the business.
Sixth, plan for crises and disasters. Be resilient when bad things happen, and look for the opportunities that arise in those situations. Prepare yourself so you can survive bad times and even take advantage of them.
Before Starting Your Job Search
Nikunj offered some preparations you can make to ready yourself for your job search. The most important step is to do something you are passionate about. That will help your career feed itself, instead of making you feel trapped in a job that isn’t fulfilling.
The Japanese concept of ikigai can help you choose a job that fits your personality, fulfills you, and inspires you on many levels. If you can find a field of work that you are good at, you are passionate about, that fulfills a greater good, and that you will be paid for, you will have long-term career success and satisfaction.
Before you start your actual search and application process, create your social media presence. Nikunj says this is more than having an accurate profile: you need to participate actively in the social media groups in your desired work area. That includes sharing your learnings to help others in those groups, which will earn you respect and goodwill among people who may be in a position to help you find the job you want.
If you want to get into a field that is growing, where demand for skilled professionals exceeds the supply, but you don’t have experience in that field, you should be prepared to get that experience even if it means taking a job below your current level. Nikunj even recommends unpaid work if that is the only way to get initial experience. You should treat that as an investment in your career development and do it with the intention of getting the experience you can leverage into getting a paid job.
In Your Job Search
When looking for positions at your dream companies, go the extra mile. Research them, their people, and their products, and use your networks to make connections to the people who make hiring recommendations or decisions.
For other companies, apply smartly. Don’t simply send in a resume and hope for the best. Read the job descriptions carefully and look for the clues to what the employer is really looking for.
Recognize that each step of the hiring process has a purpose, and every step is different from the others. You should adjust your approach as you move through the steps. In the first step, screening, recruiters look for keywords and data points (the job description provides clues for these). In the next stage, initial interviewers will be interested in your work samples and demonstrated skills. If you make it through to the later stages, don’t fall into the trap of thinking those are a formality. At the later stages, senior leadership looks at the whole picture of you as a person and worker, and you need to present yourself as serious, knowledgeable, and enthusiastic.
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Why AI in Recruitment?
In an environment where on average, there are more than 250 applications for one job, with just a few job openings, a company can attract many hundreds or thousands of applicants. If 20% get through the initial screening, that’s still hundreds of applicants in the active hiring process, and most companies have small recruiting teams that can be overwhelmed by these numbers,
AI helps recruiting teams evaluate applications and look for the best candidates based on past hiring and employment data insights. Using successful employees' characteristics as source data, AI can find patterns for what makes a good candidate for an opening. It can do this across functions, where human recruiters may not have cross-functional knowledge.
AI is used mainly in:
- Hiring process automation (automated messaging, automated evaluation)
In matching and screening, the AI looks at job titles, the candidate’s duration in each job position, companies worked at, key skills, and educational qualifications. Some will dig deeper into the kinds of work done, skills used most recently, and tenure at each employer.
To adapt to AI recruiting systems, you must organize your resume properly. Make each section easy to read so the AI's natural language processing can make sense of it. Identify your key skills clearly, with standard terminology (use synonyms if a skill is known under more than one standard name). Customize your resume for different job types: don’t use the same resume for two different jobs in different domains or functions. You don’t need charts or graphics or animations because these won’t influence the AI in the way you expect.
If you make it into a hiring process driven by AI automation, there are things to keep in mind. You may receive automated messages and reminders or interact with a bot: do not ignore these, but work with them instead. Once you have an automated interaction, be prepared to follow up manually if there is no further response after a week or so. You should use multiple channels to follow up: you may be able to find an email address, or you may need to use LinkedIn or other avenues to contact the recruiting team.
Nikunj has identified several future trends in employment:
- Increased automation. Try not to be in a job that can be automated. Focus on skills that can only be furnished by humans.
- Reduced job safety. Your response should be to take risks early when you can. Gain cross-functional and cross-domain experience and explore your areas of interest.
- Globalization of talent. In the short run, Indian workers benefit when global companies outsource work to them, but in the long run, be aware that other countries and regions may emerge as outsourcing destinations. Don’t get stuck in the kind of job that is driven by the lowest cost of labor.
Nikunj took many questions from the webinar’s live audience. You can see the entire event, including the Q&A, in the video above.
For more Simplilearn career resources, including articles and ebooks, see https://www.simplilearn.com/resources. And if you are ready to become a learning individual by gaining specific skills and certifications for your career, check out the Artificial Intelligence Engineer Master's Program or the AI ML Course that Simplilearn offers.