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Bot builder applies to thousands of jobs at once, shares lessons with job seekers

(TECH NEWS) Battle bots, literally. A man built a bot for his resume to see how the hiring bots act and found valuable info for those seeking jobs.

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Robot battle royale

Robert Coombs the director of a national non-profit, succeeded in his executive position, but felt stagnant and so started searching for new challenges in different job openings. At the beginning of his search he realized his resume didn’t get a lot of views, and that applicant tracking systems (ATS) or robots, are most commonly used for sorting job applications: not a room full of Human Resource interns like I thought.

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Upon making these two realizations, he created a challenge within a challenge and decided to create a job-application robot to combat the applicant tracking robots he was going up against.

Job app robot vs ATS robots

For his job application robot, Coombs pieced together crawlers, spreadsheets, and scripts to make an automated application process. This automated robot would then collect hiring managers’ contact information, and submit customized emails along with a resume and personalized ** cover letter.

When completed, his robot ultimately applied to almost 2,000 jobs over a three month period.

ATS are what reads and selects job candidates who apply from large recruiting sites like LinkedIn and the like. The system searches for and filters applications by qualifying key words, schools attended, skills, former employees, years of experience and other variables. So while we typically personalize our cover letters with the hope that the actual hiring manager will read it, robots are more than likely going to evaluate it before human eyes ever see it.

2,000 Jobs in 3 months… Did it work?

To test his robot, Coombs created two variable emails, sent them out and tracked to see which received no response, an auto-response, a personal email, a LinkedIn visit, or failed. The first email was personalized and included position title, organization name, skills matched to the job, successes related to the job, relevant job experience, relevant role experience, primary skills necessary and secondary skill necessary. The second however stated immediately that it was generated and sent by a robot and only included the position title and organization name. With those major differences, and If ATS algorithms were in play, one of these letters should have performed a lot different than the other.

In actuality though, they performed similarly, revealing no one, not even ATS algorithms are reading cover letters: not the super personalized ones, or the ones lacking.

So to answer the headline question: Nope. Although Coombs’ robot worked in sending the actual emails and cover letters, it did not help him get a job anymore than if he had taken the time to apply for each job one by one.

Why????

If you’re like me, you read Bot Builder and Thousands of Jobs at Once and felt pretty confident it worked; how could it not? Because human interaction reigns supreme in the job application process.

One 2014 study revealed although referrals make up 6% of job applicants compared to the 94% of candidates who apply on job boards, companies websites etc., referrals are five times more likely to be hired.

“It’s not what you know, but who you know”

Amy Seglin, the president of executive communications recruiting firm Chaloner, said “Out of the box hires rarely happen through LinkedIn applications. They happen when someone influential meets a really interesting person and says, ‘Let’s create a position for you.’”

Recruiters Aren’t As Helpful As We’d Hoped

Not only do recruiting websites or methods receive tons of responses, naturally, but they are typically only looking for candidates “within the mold,” says Scott Uhrig from Agile.Careers and therefore aren’t helpful for people who feel like they offer more unique qualifications.

Aside from these facts Coombs felt as though his bot should have at least worked in the spirit of the law of large, which suggests 2000 emails should have beckoned more responses than the normal candidate who has applied less times.

Uhrig retorted though, that “Roughly 80% of jobs are never posted – probably closer to 90% for more senior jobs,” he told Coombs.

“The competition for posted jobs is insane. ATSs do a horrendous job of selecting the best candidates and -perhaps most important- the best jobs are almost never posted.” To this point, other job recruiters told Coombs most positions on recruiting sites were either posted by an HR person who’s since left, or the position has already been filled.

So, you can submit as many applications as you want, and you still won’t improve chances of being selected by ATS.

So? Meet More People.

Coombs’ bot experiment was more than just a cool technology trick I would have killed for straight out of college; it proved valuable lessons for anyone concerned with joining the job force: First, knowing someone within an organization is your best bet to securing a job. Second, recruiters aren’t helpful and don’t care about candidates who break the mold. Finally, the number of jobs you apply to will not affect your chances of receiving a response, so apply wisely.

Coombs did receive some responses to the thousands of job applications he submitted, but all of the responding companies were smaller with less than 50 staff, and didn’t employ ATS to filter resumes.

So, it is important to remember this bot experiment in your search for a job, but don’t abandon methods like personalizing cover letter’s, or having a polished resume. Even if you meet someone to refer you, you’ll need to have those ready.

#BotBuilder

Lauren Flanigan is a Staff Writer at The American Genius, hailing from the windy hills of Cincinnati, with a degree in Marketing from the University of Cincinnati. She has escaped the hills, and currently resides in Atlanta, where you can almost always find her camping at a Starbucks strategizing on how to take over the world.

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Daily Coding Problem keeps you sharp for coding interviews

(CAREER) Coding interviews can be pretty intimidating, no matter your skill level, so stay sharp with daily practice leading up to your big day.

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Whether you’re in the market for a new coding job or just want to stay sharp in the one you have, it’s always important to do a skills check-up on the proficiencies you need for your job. Enter Daily Coding Problem, a mailing list service that sends you one coding problem per day (hence the name) to keep your analytical skills in top form.

One of the founders of the service, Lawrence Wu, stated that the email list service started “as a simple mailing list between me and my friends while we were prepping for coding interviews [because] just doing a couple problems every day was the best way to practice.”

Now the service offers this help for others who are practicing for interviews or for individuals needing to just stay fresh in what they do. The problems are written by individuals who are not just experts, but also who aced their interviews with giants like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft.

So how much would a service like this cost you? Free, but with further tiers of features for additional money. Like with all tech startups, the first level offers the basic features such as a single problem every day with some tricks and hints, as well as a public blog with additional support for interviewees. However, if you want the actual answer to the problem, and not just the announcement that you incorrectly answered it, you’ll need to pony up $15 per month.

The $15 level also comes with some neat features such as mock interview opportunities, no ads, and a 30 day money back guarantee. For those who may be on the job market longer, or who just want the practice for their current job, the $250 level offers unlimited mock interviews, as well as personal guidance by the founders of the company themselves.

Daily Coding Problem enters a field with some big players with a firm grasp on the market. Other services, like InterviewCake, LeetCode, and InterviewBit, offer similar opportunities to practice mock interview questions. InterviewCake offers the ability to sort questions by the company who typically asks them for that individual with their sights targeted on a specific company. InterviewBit offers referrals and mentorship opportunities, while LeetCode allows users to submit their own questions to the question pool.

If you’ve really got your eye on the prize of receiving that coveted job opportunity, Daily Coding Problem is a great way to add another tool in your tool box to ace that interview.

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Making Slack actionable makes you productive

(TECHNOLOGY) Slack is an amazing productivity tool, but of course can add more to your plate – this feature puts you back on track.

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You know when you’re using Slack and you’re having a conversation with your teammate about whether or not you should grab lunch or go to Soul Cycle, but before you can answer, your editor Slacks you about deadlines and your design partner messages you proofs and suddenly you snap back to reality and remember that you’ve been working on a blog post for an hour and your concentration is completely shattered? You know, the exact moment when your productivity is officially derailed?

Well, Slack now offers Actions to help make sure that doesn’t happen. Your day may get busy, but at least nothing will slip through the cracks, work-wise.

Integrated with project management tools like Asana, Zendesk, and Jira, Actions allows users to create and comment on tasks, tickets or issues within conversations. That means no clicking through tabs or apps until you can no longer remember why you started clicking in the first place. More importantly, Actions keeps track of the work you need to do and when you need to do it.

So, how do Actions work?

1. Need to create a deadline or set up an appointment? Anything you see in Slack that needs a follow-up can be turned into an action when you click the ••• icon and choose an “action.”

2. When you’ve completed an action, a message appears in your Slack channel and lets your team know you’ve flagged it for follow-up.

3. Whichever app you’ve integrated with will alert Slack at which point you and your team can determine the next steps.

Bottom-line, Actions help keep your workflow moving. While it may not stop the onslaught of Slack messages from breaking your concentration, at least you’ll know what you should to be concentrating on.

If you’re curious to know more about Actions, the company has ample info on their API pages for your perusal.

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Freezetab streamlines how you save tabs in Chrome

(TECH NEWS) Freezetab is the newest chrome extension that allows you to organize saved tabs in a myriad of ways.

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Internet made easier

With the browser becoming more and more of a workspace than merely an application, the built in bookmarks tool may leave you a bit hungry for more.

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Chrome users who need better tools to organize and manage bookmarks may find the power they need in Freezetab.

Bookmark’s cooler, hotter younger brother

Freezetab seeks to answer the questions of “what if I could organize my bookmarks by website” or “I only want to save all but two of these tabs on zen office designs.” It seeks to give you more options beyond the “one or all” choices in chrome. Here is the lowdown:

  • The calendar feature remembers WHEN you saved a tab – so if you can’t remember the title you can just go back to the day.
  • Chrome either lets you save one or all tabs. Freezetab expands those options to include: all, current, everything but current, right of, left of, or pick and choose.
  • If you are sharing a collection of tabs with a workgroup or a partner, it exports as a nice textbox that is easy to share in integrated messaging, IM, or email. Or even social media!
  • Sorting is robust, and there is a solid search feature that searches as you type.
  • That quick save feature saves all the tabs and closes them – and you can adjust that quick save feature to meet your needs.
  • There is a handy little star feature to note important bookmarks (i.e. recipes and excel techniques).
  • Enhances your close tab capability to close everything to the left and specific tabs – this great if you work in chrome and have 75 tabs open that have one letter names.
  • It is easier to sort tabs after you save them – you can search for them and then sort into folders you create rather manually organizing them into folders.
  • As a bonus: for those who don’t want to have to sort bookmarks – unlike Chrome which requires you to pick a folder or risk turning your bookmarks to an unorganized mess, the extension automatically organizes it for you.

Freezetab findings

After spending a few moments with Freezetab, it does fit in nicely with a workflow. Solidly reviewed, the developer did solve an issue with “pinned” tabs in the 1.2 update. – so it doesn’t remove or add them. The features are nice and easy to use, and it doesn’t require more than five minutes of playing around.

One complaint – if you choose to the right or left of the current tab to close, it did close the active tab as well – which was a little funky. But once you get comfortable with the nuances, it’s easy to use.
The interface is function over form, but you won’t have any problem using or customizing this extension. Now Bookmark smart y’all!

#FreezeTab

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