Your trusted resume expert… a robot?

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Artificial intelligence (AI) is truly woven into the fabrics of our lives, including job search. Most mid-sized to large employers are using technology and AI tools in the recruiting and hiring processes, and there are also tools that job seekers can take advantage of, as well.

For example, one such tool that I introduce my clients to is Job Scan, which will compare your resume to a job description you’re going to apply for. This helps you tailor your resume to that specific job posting. Even if you’re working with a recruiter on a job not publicly advertised anywhere, this can still be handy.

In a future post I can explore the nuances of how this tool works and why tailoring is preferable to using the exact same document every time without any changes.

There are also other AI and technology tools that are more questionable and less helpful, of course. (Also worth exploring in future posts!)

For now, what I want to address is how to handle a robot’s advice.

Human intelligence vs. AI

AI is an incredible advancement, and as most of us know, there are A LOT of things that computers are very good at that the rest of us simply aren’t as good at.

Robots have been beating humans at chess for years now—remember Deep Blue’s famous chess victory in 1997? Yes, certain types of thinking are easier when you have the memory and speed of a computer.

Limitations of software

Here’s the problem: software is only as good as the people who created it, and most robots we deal with in everyday life don’t excel at everything we throw at them.

For example, if you’re having a complicated marital problem, would Siri be a good source of advice? Probably not. She can find information on the Internet for you, but don’t expect her to give the kind of advice you could get from a marriage counselor or a friend who’s been married for 35 years.

Robots are lacking when it comes to analysis that requires common sense, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

A client example

I had an executive client who, based on my recommendation, ran her resume through Job Scan to tailor it for a job posting. A recommendation popped up saying that her resume was over the recommended length.

However, what she didn’t notice was that it said “unless you are applying for executive jobs.” The software simply isn’t (or at least wasn’t at the time) capable of analyzing the fact that there were VP titles in the resume, and then tailoring the advice based on the fact that she was at that level. Now, if she had read it more carefully, she would have understood that this didn’t apply to her.

One-size-fits-all “rules of thumb”

The other issue is that the software is set up to detect whether you’re over a certain word count (which has since been increased); even if you’re only one word over, it will be flagged—even though being one word over wouldn’t disqualify your application if you applied for the job.

These types of guidelines from an AI tool are usually based on best practices that are applicable to the lowest common denominator of people. Your needs might be slightly different, depending on your industry, career level, target employer, target job, and unique career situations.

You could think of it like government dietary guidelines. They’re based on what will probably work best for most people, but your needs might be slightly different if you’re an athlete, diabetic, celiac patient, or have a food allergy. In those instances, you could work with your physician, dietician, or trainer to determine what will be best for you.

Handling a robot’s advice

Back to my example. My client tried to trim her resume to get it under the magical word count that the robot had recommended (yes, that was sarcasm). But there was so much important information; she trimmed a bit, but couldn’t get it down much and mentioned this to me when we talked again.

I reassured her that the platform clearly states that this isn’t applicable if you’re applying to executive jobs. However, I was left feeling a bit disappointed that she had trusted a robot over me.

When you’ve invested a significant amount of money in working with an executive resume writer who is certified, has spent more than a decade mastering her craft, attends conferences in her industry, contributes to popular resume and career books, is quoted about resume topics by major media outlets, stays current through monthly professional development, is a member of four different professional associations for the resume and career industry, and has a recruiter consultant on her team…why not at least run these things by her first?

At this point, advice from robots needs to be taken with a grain of salt. AI job search tools range from useless to helpful, but even when it’s helpful, you also need to balance it out with the opinions of human experts and your own common sense. Oh, and while you’re at it, please don’t replace your marriage counselor with Siri. 😉

Why I have to say “no” to prospective clients

It usually happens about once a week or so: someone will approach me inquiring about my services and I end up referring them to an industry colleague (ie., competitor).

There are many reasons for these referrals that all boil down to the client not being the best fit at that point in time:

  • Not having a specific job target (or two) in mind. Being uncertain about what type of jobs to seek.
  • A profession or subject matter that I consider “out of my wheelhouse.” A big one is technical subject matter–such as chemical engineering–but this also includes any topic where I’m not sure how I can make the information compelling enough to provide true value for the money the client is paying me.
  • A goal of landing a federal job, which is not something I help with.
  • In rare cases, being burned out with that particular subject matter if I’ve worked on several similar projects back-to-back (this has only happened a couple times). You deserve someone who is genuinely excited.
  • A timeline faster than what I can accommodate; I won’t cut corners, and it’s very difficult to deliver bespoke LinkedIn profile writing and executive resume writing without having adequate time to work on it.
  • A budget too small for my fees. I don’t feel that it’s right to convince someone to spend more than they can afford.

In all of these cases, I’m not the best person to help, and I certainly don’t want to waste the person’s time.

What I do when a client isn’t the right fit

So I’m happy to recommend other people and companies I know, whether it’s a career coach to get clear on a job target, a resume and LinkedIn profile writer who specializes in that particular profession, a federal job consultant, or a company that can do a faster turnaround while still providing high-quality work.

Some would call these other companies my competitors, but I think of them as industry colleagues; sometimes they refer business to me and sometimes I refer business to them. It’s a win-win; we get the projects that are best for us, and we help the clients get the providers that are best for them.

I’ve learned from experience that I do my best work when I stick to projects where I know I can hit it out of the park. If I don’t feel confident I can hit it out of the park, I’ll be honest with you–I owe you that much!

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Am I the right fit for you?

One of the most important aspects of finding an executive resume writer, LinkedIn profile writer, and/or career coach is making sure that you and the provider are a good fit for each other. That will ensure that you both enjoy the experience and will greatly increase the chances of the outcome you’re hoping for.