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December 21, 2023

How AI Can Supercharge Your Job Search

Source: RSS Newsfeed When I was working in career services, I noticed nearly all of the students I advised fell into one of two camps: They were either completely overwhelmed by all the necessary tasks of their job search, or they simplified the process so much they created major gaps in their own process. […]

Source: RSS Newsfeed

When I was working in career services, I noticed nearly all of the students I advised fell into one of two camps: They were either completely overwhelmed by all the necessary tasks of their job search, or they simplified the process so much they created major gaps in their own process.

Over time, I developed a four-step model to address their gaps and “chunk” the job search process into something more manageable. The 4 steps are very straightforward: Resume, Research, Network, Search. (Note: I’m not sharing the steps for a successful interview or negotiation, we’re only focused on the search process for now.)

From my experience having worked at four different institutions and having advised thousands of students, the majority often do Step 1 (prep a resume and cover letter) — but then skip straight to Step 4 (start searching and applying like crazy). Inevitably, they all report that they weren’t hearing back and weren’t having much luck. That’s because they don’t spend enough time on Step 2 (research) and Step 3 (networking). Thorough and adequate prep in Step 2 and 3 will ensure greater success in any internship or job search process.

I’ve been thinking a lot about this approach lately as generative AI has emerged and many have begun utilizing ChatGPT and other similar tools to manage aspects of their job search. Are the four steps still necessary? I would argue, yes. The four steps remain the same, but the tools you’ll use to optimize each step are now more powerful. My advice to early career job seekers is to pair both human and AI guidance to power up their job searches. Here’s how students can incorporate AI into each of the four steps to maximize their results:

Step 1: Develop your resume and online profile.

The first step in any job search is to prepare your resume and online profile (on Handshake or LinkedIn) and pull together the core components of your cover letter. These documents should list relevant education and employment history as well as your skills, abilities, and interests.

It doesn’t matter if you want to start with gen AI or start with a live human in this step. In the end, you’ll want to utilize both. Gen AI is great at providing you a basic template and giving you sample bullets based on your roles or experiences. It can edit bullets or improve sentence structure in your cover letter drafts. It can also review your resume, profile, or cover letter against job descriptions or roles to provide you with greater insight on whether your skills or experiences might match and if you need to emphasize other areas more strongly in your application materials. If you’re having trouble getting started, gen AI tools are good for unblocking.

Now career advisors or mentors can support this process by helping you clarify your interests, target industries or roles, and synthesize which skills you’ve gained through different school experiences. Using a live human to gain this insight will make it easier for you to craft strong AI prompts which can refine the content on your resume, profile, or cover letter and to make those materials your own.

Step 2: Do the research.

This second step is all about understanding the macro (industry trends, emerging issues and jargon) — and the micro (specific news about the company you’re applying to and the responsibilities of the role you’re seeking).

This step is prime for gen AI to serve as an aggregator. On the macro side, it can help with research like figuring out how an industry is typically structured, what roles exist, what they do, industry jargon, and what are the emerging trends in the space. AI can suggest blogs, publications, podcasts, and other resources you should follow within your industry area to ensure you’re well plugged in and up-to-date on the latest issues. At the micro level, AI can help you dig into the roles you’re interested in and further explain what you might be responsible for or what you should emphasize from your own experience to be a strong fit. It can also help you generate a list of employers who exist in your geographic location and a list of competitors to help you broaden your research.

On the human side, you can take advantage of career events, panels, and programs put on by your school’s career center to hear directly from alumni and employers. After all the research you’ve conducted using gen AI, you’ll be ready to ask more in-depth questions using industry jargon and showcasing the new knowledge you’ve acquired.

Step 3: Network, network, network.

Networking is a critical piece of the career search process. Use gen AI to help you refine the questions you might ask in an informational interview. Upload the information or notes you’ve taken from your research to help develop strong prompts and informed questions for your conversations. You can also use AI to ask for suggestions of platforms to use when trying to identify peers, alumni, and employers in your field.

At the end of the day though, networking is ultimately about making human connections. It’s about building relationships and taking an interest in someone else. Take the time to meet with alumni, peers, and professionals in the industry or roles you’re most interested in. Ask them about industry trends they’re following, about typical hiring timelines and processes, and allow those conversations to add to the research you’ve already done.

Remember that you can network with anyone. Peers from college, your fellow interns or coworkers from an internship or part-time job, your professors or family friends—all these individuals may be helpful or know someone who could be. Asking questions and being ready to share your own interests or goals could result in great connections. Step 2 and 3 really feed each other and as a result, will help you refine your materials in step 1 and make you far more informed on how to approach step 4.

Step 4: Search for jobs.

Once you’ve done the steps above, you’re ready to start searching for jobs. Once again, the human and AI connections that assisted you with profile-building, researching and networking come together in this final step.

Different job platforms, like Handshake, now utilize gen AI to help you identify open positions in the locations or industries you’re most interested in. And in some cases, can auto populate your information and application materials to make the applying part that much faster.

But remember to use your human connections as sounding boards and sources of encouragement and support. The job search can be taxing and having people to talk to as you go through the process is always helpful.

While the human element remains a foundational piece of any successful job search, it’s increasingly clear that new gen AI-driven guidance can supercharge any process.

Article written by:  Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family. Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.
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