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.
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.
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.
Can you afford missing a paycheck? Finance tips for freelancers
(FINANCE) Freelancers who are not always promised a regular paycheck could benefit from staying on top of their finances. Here’s our tips!
Most Americans don’t have a regular savings account and could not handle a $1,000 emergency, let alone miss practically a month of pay. We all could benefit from some careful reflection about the precarious nature of our personal finances.
Particularly those of us who don’t receive a regular paycheck.
Entrepreneurs and those invested in the gig economy have volatile incomes, and literally no promise of a paycheck ever – that can impact your personal finances in a number of ways.
Variable incomes are normal for this group and can impact entrepreneurs in ways as simple as handling debt.
If this is you – here are a few things to keep in mind that can help you deal with the volatility of living on a variable income and handling your personal finances.
- Set up an emergency fund. Start with 500 if you have to, and remember this is an emergency fund for your personal expenses, not your business. If you have an emergency fund, make sure you identify what an emergency is and also be prepared to put money back when it comes out. If you have a hard time not spending money in front of you, put your money in a local bank or CU that you don’t have immediate access too.
- Stick to a budget. when you can’t forecast your income appropriately, controlling expenses is so critical it’s the few things that are in your control.
- Don’t mix business with personal. While you may be pouring your personal energy and time into your start-up or gig, be careful about mixing expenses for two reasons: First, it messes up your budget. You need to have separate budgets for personal and business. Second, there could be tax challenges – consult a tax professional for more information. Here’s a little primer to get you started.
- Save for retirement. There are tax benefits and come on, don’t wait till you can’t work anymore. Also, an IRA IS NOT AN EMERGENCY FUND.
- Practice good financial behaviors. Automate bill pay. Online statements. Digital receipt tracking. The more you can automate your life, the better you are. You already have so many demands on your time, reduce that so you can spend more time doing what you love and what matters.
- Consider diversifying your income. Either ensure you have multiple strings or a backup gig (even if it’s just uber driving) or be prepared to do temporary or contract labor during your slow seasons.
The path to entrepreneurship is rough. If the government can be unstable, those of you who work in the world of startups, gigs, and entrepreneurship, need to be even more on your toes. The “normal recommendation” for saving is 10% of your income, but normal may not be enough for you. Be prepared and save (more) of your paycheck.
Disclaimer: I am neither a tax nor investment professional. This is personal financial advice and I encourage you to visit a professional if you need more specific plans of action.
iOS 15 beta has blur nude photos opt-in, but its not without fault
(TECH NEWS) To protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos.
In a move to protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos received in the Messages app. Amid privacy concerns, the feature has yet to be released.
This iteration of the feature is distinct from the original one insofar as it will no longer alert a parent or guardian when nude photos are encountered. While this may seem like a controversial change, several experts pointed out that exposing nude content on a child’s device in some households could result in abuse or, as Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Kendra Albert suggests, the outing of “queer or transgender children to their parents.”
With the most recent version of this feature enabled, children who receive inappropriate photos via the Messages app would be able to do two things: choose to avoid (or see) the content, and choose to send a report to a trusted adult if they see fit to do so.
Blurring photos is just one of several aspects of Apple’s Communication Safety suite, a feature that aims to prevent child sex abuse by making it easier for children to avoid and report predatory content.
Another feature that Apple has tested – but not released – is their Child Sex Abuse Imagery Detection (CSAM-detection), which scans and reports iCloud content that shows child pornography or abuse to Apple moderators for further review. As one can imagine, the feature drew mixed criticism, the majority of which came from privacy advocates.
While the vast majority of humanity can (hopefully) agree that fighting against child exploitation is a noble cause, these groups argue that scanning and reporting individuals’ personal photos via an algorithm opens the door to government interference and increased surveillance. Switching the algorithm’s baseline to scan for things like anti-government content, for example, would be easy, these groups posit, making the feature extremely dangerous in principle.
There is no current release date set for any of these aforementioned features, though iPhone users can reasonably expect them to drop at some point during iOS 15’s development.
Amazon Music debuts synchronized text transcripts for popular podcasts
(TECH) The first feature to hit Amazon Music is auto-generated and synchronized text transcripts for their most popular podcast shows. Sign us up!
Amazon set out to accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts last year by acquiring the podcasting network, Wondery. Now, the company is doing just that with the launch of its auto-generated and synchronized podcast transcripts feature on Amazon Music.
According to an Amazon Music tweet, with this feature, you’ll be able to “Roll it back, jump ahead, and follow along” with the podcast you’re listening to. For instance, you can scrub through the transcript to find that line of text with that quote or movie and book suggestion you can’t quite remember. When you tap on a particular line of text in the transcript, you’ll be able to jump straight into that specific part of the podcast. I can already see all the time saved! But, if you just want to read along as you listen, you can do that, too. The transcript will match the audio as you’re hearing it.
Right now, the company is only rolling out podcast transcripts in the US on both iOS and Android devices. When it will expand to other countries isn’t known, and the feature isn’t available for all podcasts yet. For now, it is only available on a selection of popular podcasts like Smartless, Crime Junkie, This American Life, Uncommon Ground, and Modern Love, but more are coming.
To use it, all you have to do is open the podcasts tab on Amazon Music and select one of the podcasts you’d like to listen to. Of course, you’ll need to select a show with the podcast transcription feature to see it. When your show is playing, on the top of the album art and in fullscreen mode, the transcriptions will be available for you to read along to.
Oh, and if you’re worried about having to read through the ads, you have nothing to fret about. Ads won’t be transcribed. Instead, the transcription will read “audio not transcribed” when they are playing.
So far, Amazon seems to be going strong in the podcasting game with the release of podcast transcripts. The feature makes it easy to search and find what you are looking for in a show. And, for those on a long and noisy bus and subway ride, you’ll finally be able to read the information you previously couldn’t hear.
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