Looking for a new job? Brush up your résumé with a computer algorithm. Seriously, it could pay off.


There’s all kinds of tips and tricks for job seekers to grab the attention of potential employers through their résumé.

Be concise, highlight specific skills — and perhaps run your CV through a résumé-writing algorithm that uses predictive technology to spot errors, avoid weak language and maximize appeal.

Job seekers using the algorithms — which detected spelling errors, offered advice on phrasing and word use — had 8% more job offers versus a control group that did not have the extra help, according to researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Sloan School of Management.

The health of the job market and the ongoing labor shortage are burning questions for job seekers, and so is the use and the limit of artificial intelligence. The working paper, released Monday, offers insight into how the two topics might intersect.

Even though job seekers with an algorithm-assisted résumé did not send out more job applications than those who did not use AI, they received nearly 8% more job offers and hourly wages that were 8.4% higher. The treatment and control group were each compromised of approximately 97,000 people, all looking for employment in the spring and summer of 2021 while the job market roared in the rebound from the worst days of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The economy added another 517,000 jobs in January. That rocketed past most economists’ expectations, but questions remain about how healthy the labor market will be this year, particularly with tens of thousands of layoffs in the tech sector so far this year.

Whether employers used workers from the group aided by the resume algorithm or people without the assistance, they reported that they were equally satisfied with both groups, the working paper found.

‘It didn’t trick employers into hiring anyone worse.’

— Emma van Inwegen, a fourth-year Ph.D student who co-authored a paper on AI-assisted CVs

That’s an important takeaway, said Emma van Inwegen, a fourth-year Ph.D student who co-authored the paper with MIT Sloan School of Management Prof. John Horton and Zanele Munyikwa, also an MIT Ph.D student.

With the rise of AI, machine-assisted algorithms and online services to help optimize résumés, employers might worry computer technology is giving some candidates a leg-up, and helping them choose someone they wouldn’t hire otherwise.

But here, “it didn’t trick employers into hiring anyone worse,” van Inwegen said. The most sought-after jobs were remote work, including technical work, data entry and customer service. “Basically anything you can do with an internet connection,” van Inwegen noted.

In fact, the algorithm’s assistance may even make the best candidates stand out. “Your résumé becomes easier to read. It is easier to communicate your skills,” she said, noting that’s especially important for job seekers who don’t speak English as their first language, or who are applying for work in an international company with offices across the globe.

The good news: Many employers are still searching for labor. There were 11 million job openings in December, up from 10.46 million in November, according to government data released earlier this month.

A résumé improved by machine learning could broaden the applicant pool and make the job-search process more efficient for job candidates and employers, van Inwegen said.

As she starts her own job hunt, van Inwegen said she’ll turn to a computer-powered service to see how she could can make her résumé as effective as possible. In light of the study, it could be a good move for other job seekers too, she said. “I think it would not hurt. It would likely help.”


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