AI in Job Applications: Merging Traditional with Technology for Job Search Success

updated on 22 February 2024

The job application arena is evolving (quickly) due to the surge of artificial intelligence (AI). Statistics reveal over 50% of job seekers use AI for their job search, a figure we project to reach 70% within two years. However, the uptick in using AI to job hunt has also enabled the passive job hunter. It's clear those trying to stay ahead must now balance traditional principles with AI technology.

We endorse the "hybrid" applicant approach. This approach targets newly posted jobs, formats ATS-friendly resumes, scans job descriptions for hard skill keywords, and uses AI to quickly tailor these hard skills keywords to your experiences.

AI in Job Searching: The Pitfalls

AI's integration into job applications is transforming the recruitment industry. As AI makes applying more and more automated, hiring managers are now getting flooded with auto-applications and stretch resumes. At Crackerjack, we're monitoring this change in the career space.

We see an opportunity to combine traditional job search methods with AI optimizations to stand out in applicant tracking systems (ATS).

The 'Hybrid' Applying Approach: Where Tradition Meets Innovation

Even with AI's prevalence in job searching, foundational principles of job applications remain important. For those serious job hunters who are trying to land a dream job, using AI tools to passively spread your resume may not land many interviews.

Having seen a lot of job-hunter approaches and spoken with dozens of hiring managers, we have been able to formulate a solid job-applying approach for 2024.

  1. Keep resume formatting simple
  2. Use standard section headings and avoid complex formatting, images, and charts
  3. Utilize quantifiable bullet point examples of your accomplishment
  4. Spend 15 mins each day to check for the newest job listings on LinkedIn (or any tier 1 job board for your position)
  5. Run a scan for job description hard skills (keywords)
  6. Use a resume keyword scanner to identify gaps between your resume keywords and the job descriptions
  7. Leverage an AI tool that allows for quick edits - directly on the job board - to tailor your resume for the job you're applying for

The 'hybrid' approach underpins the equal importance of leveraging AI and your upfront formatting efforts to have a better chance with hiring managers.

To boil it down, resumes need to be cleanly formatted so that applicant tracking systems can parse your information correctly. Although, these systems can handle most resumes and parsing, images, non-traditional sections, and charts can still trip up applicant tracking systems.

Now that auto-applying tools and passive job hunters are flooding job openings with resumes, it's more important than ever to apply to the newest listings. Once a job reaches a certain volume of qualified applications, hiring managers may shortlist the first cohort of applications. Monitoring job boards for new openings will give you a chance to be the first application in the applicant tracking system.

The next two steps are where AI makes its real impact on the application process. You should have quantified and concise accomplishment bullet points on your resume at this point. But, for each job you're applying for, you should augment your accomplishment bullet points with hard skill keywords.

AI tools can scan job descriptions and quickly identify these hard skill keywords and how they can fit into your resume work experience section. However, be mindful not to overstuff your resume with keywords. You need a tailored resume, but not to the level of exaggeration or desperation.

Lastly, to make your job application experience streamlined, you can also leverage a tool that does this tailored resume process right on the job description so each resume edit only takes one or two minutes.

The Future of Job Applications

Looking ahead to 2024, AI will play a significant role in job applications and eventually, there will be a paradigm shift in hiring. However, while there is a lot of action happening in the career space, we see thoughtful formatting and active job searching combined with tailoring resume keywords as the whitespace for job hunters. Conversely, the indiscriminate 'spray and pray' application method may waste time and lead to frustration.

Read more