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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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Google chrome: The anti-cookie monster in 2022

(TECH NEWS) If you are tired of third party cookies trying to grab every bit of data about you, google has heard and responded with their new updates.

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3rd party cookies

Google has announced the end of third-party tracking cookies on its Chrome browser within the next two years in an effort to grant users better means of security and privacy. With third-party cookies having been relied upon by advertising and social media networks, this move will undoubtedly have ramifications on the digital ad sector.

Google’s announcement was made in a blog post by Chrome engineering director, Justin Schuh. This follows Google’s Privacy Sandbox launch back in August, an initiative meant to brainstorm ideas concerning behavioral advertising online without using third-party cookies.

Chrome is currently the most popular browser, comprising of 64% of the global browser market. Additionally, Google has staked out its role as the world’s largest online ad company with countless partners and intermediaries. This change and any others made by Google will affect this army of partnerships.

This comes in the wake of rising popularity for anti-tracking features on web browsers across the board. Safari and Firefox have both launched updates (Intelligent Tracking Prevention for Safari and the Enhanced Tracking Prevention for Firefox) with Microsoft having recently released the new Edge browser which automatically utilizes tracking prevention. These changes have rocked share prices for ad tech companies since last year.

The two-year grace period before Chrome goes cookie-less has given the ad and media industries time to absorb the shock and develop plans of action. The transition has soften the blow, demonstrating Google’s willingness to keep positive working relations with ad partnerships. Although users can look forward to better privacy protection and choice over how their data is used, Google has made it clear it’s trying to keep balance in the web ecosystems which will likely mean compromises for everyone involved.

Chrome’s SameSite cookie update will launch in February, requiring publishers and ad tech vendors to label third-party cookies that can be used elsewhere on the web.

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Computer vision helps AI create a recipe from just a photo

(TECH NEWS) It’s so hard to find the right recipe for that beautiful meal you saw on tv or online. Well computer vision helps AI recreate it from a picture!

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Ever seen at a photo of a delicious looking meal on Instagram and wondered how the heck to make that? Now there’s an AI for that, kind of.

Facebook’s AI research lab has been developing a system that can analyze a photo of food and then create a recipe. So, is Facebook trying to take on all the food bloggers of the world now too?

Well, not exactly, the AI is part of an ongoing effort to teach AI how to see and then understand the visual world. Food is just a fun and challenging training exercise. They have been referring to it as “inverse cooking.”

According to Facebook, “The “inverse cooking” system uses computer vision, technology that extracts information from digital images and videos to give computers a high level of understanding of the visual world,”

The concept of computer vision isn’t new. Computer vision is the guiding force behind mobile apps that can identify something just by snapping a picture. If you’ve ever taken a photo of your credit card on an app instead of typing out all the numbers, then you’ve seen computer vision in action.

Facebook researchers insist that this is no ordinary computer vision because their system uses two networks to arrive at the solution, therefore increasing accuracy. According to Facebook research scientist Michal Drozdzal, the system works by dividing the problem into two parts. A neutral network works to identify ingredients that are visible in the image, while the second network pulls a recipe from a kind of database.

These two networks have been the key to researcher’s success with more complicated dishes where you can’t necessarily see every ingredient. Of course, the tech team hasn’t stepped foot in the kitchen yet, so the jury is still out.

This sounds neat and all, but why should you care if the computer is learning how to cook?

Research projects like this one carry AI technology a long way. As the AI gets smarter and expands its limits, researchers are able to conceptualize new ways to put the technology to use in our everyday lives. For now, AI like this is saving you the trouble of typing out your entire credit card number, but someday it could analyze images on a much grander scale.

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Xiaomi accidentally sent security video from one home to another

(TECH NEWS) Xiaomi finds out that while modern smart and security devices have helped us all, but there are still plenty of flaws and openings for security breeches.

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Xiaomi home device

The reason for setting up security cameras around your home is so the photos can get streamed to your neighbor’s device, right?

Okay, that’s obviously not why most (if any) of us get security cameras, but unfortunately, that scenario of the leaked images isn’t a hypothetical. Xiaomi cameras have been streaming photos to the wrong Google Home devices. This was first reported on Reddit, with user Dio-V posting a video of it happening on their device.

Xiaomi is a Chinese electronics company that has only recently started to gain traction in the U.S. markets. While their smartphones still remain abroad, two of Xiaomi’s security cameras are sold through mainstream companies like Wal-Mart and Amazon for as low as $40. Their affordable prices have made the products even more popular and Xiaomi’s presence has grown, both nationally and abroad.

To be fair, when the leaked photos surfaced, both Google and Xiaomi responded quickly. Google cut off access to Xiaomi devices until the problem was resolved to ensure it wouldn’t happen again. Meanwhile, Xiaomi worked to identify and fix the issue, which was caused by a cache update, and has since been fixed.

But the incident still raises questions about smart security devices in the first place.

Any smart device is going to be inherently vulnerable due to the internet connection. Whether it’s hackers, governments, or the tech companies themselves, there are plenty of people who can fairly easily gain access to the very things that are supposed to keep your home secure.

Of course, unlike these risks, which involve people actively trying to access your data, this most recent incident with Xiaomi and Google shows that your intimate details might even be shared to strangers who aren’t even trying to break into your system. Unfortunately, bugs are inevitable when it comes to keeping technology up to date, so it’s fairly likely something like this could happen again in the future.

That’s right, your child’s room might be streamed to a total stranger by complete accident.

Granted, Xiaomi’s integration mistake only affected a fraction of their users and many risks are likely to decrease as time goes on. Still, as it stands now, your smart security devices might provide a facade of safety, but there are plenty of risks involved.

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