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Ben Halpern
Ben Halpern

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AI and the Future of Actually Getting a Job

The future of employment is a broad and poignant topic these days, and although I'm optimistic in the medium-term, we are already experiencing meaningfully-painful disruption.

This post focuses on the job-seeking process in software development specifically. I don't want to try and weigh in on everything all at once, although I do anticipate writing more about this topic.

How things mostly work

This is an old post of mine in which I try to provide pragmatic advice for the job-seeker in light of how things mostly work:

Throughout my career, I've yet to be satisfied with our industry's job matching process. It's a fundamentally challenging issue to pair employees with employers in a mutually beneficial manner. Attempts to solve this problem often result in a cumbersome process, leaving participants exhausted by its conclusion.

It’s done

And that's before the job even begins!

The elephant in the room is that the process is always a huge burden

Enter AI (The Bad Parts)

The situation has deteriorated. Or, to be more precise, remains challenging.

The technical disruption has sparked widespread debate over the essential skills for technical workers in the next decade. This is compounded by high interest rates and a general hiring slowdown.

Hiring managers, overwhelmed by applications, struggle to exercise their discernment due to AI-enhanced applications disrupting their intuition.

Actually, I Think AI Is Necessary

AI now seems to be the sole solution to this problem.

The inefficiencies inherent in the hiring process obstruct the formation of effective matches. Hiring managers have previously utilized automation, often based on machine learning, but this has not significantly improved the situation for all parties involved.

The latest generation of specialized AI excels at many processes crucial to the early filtering stages, potentially leading to more meaningful human interactions and effective matches between employers and employees sooner.

Concerns regarding discrimination and automated bias persist but are potentially more manageable with the new technology, as it can be less opaque than "traditional ML," which has been criticized for its lack of transparency and flexibility. The next generation promises to be more accessible and understandable.

The Future, Tangibly Speaking

Disclosure: I'm mentioning a tool, Commit which I became aware of when they became a sponsor of DEV.

The remote hiring process for software developers could benefit from sophisticated matching systems. While a human touch is desirable, smarter technology is necessary in its absence.

Just as self-driving cars must adapt to human-centric roads, adopting tools compatible with the current system is a step towards a more humane hiring process driven by intelligent matching.

Check out the Commit Agent — It's in public beta for your curiosity. I have no affiliation besides the aforementioned relationship.

While the naive adoption of new technologies carries risks, thoughtful application of these innovations represents progress.

The Brutality of Manually Filling Out Hundreds of Applications

Ultimately, if automation can make the hiring market more fluid by simplifying complex aspects, it's a win-win. This topic is undoubtedly complex and controversial, but I firmly believe in the need for smarter matching to reduce the undue burden on all parties involved.

Top comments (4)

brian_curricular profile image
Brian G.

Good post.

I agree, the numbers game is certainly grueling and soul-crushing for everyone involved.

HR is always late to catch up to trends. And it's a buyer's market for talent, so there's not really an incentive to fix the problem of sorting through way too many applications for every position.

From what I've seen, the "smarter matching" you're referring to is currently supplied by networking. Someone at an organization who vouches for you likely cuts your number of applications 10X and makes a recruiter's job significantly easier. I don't think AI replaces this anytime soon.

ethanwillingham profile image
Ethan Willingham • Edited

For me, coming fresh out of college with my CS Degree. I found that lowering my standards is what finally landed me a job coding(after 500 applications and 20 interviews). Jobs with “software engineer” or “developer” in the title are always going to be gotten by someone better than me(I am an average joe who picked up coding in my mid 20’s and came from a blue collar background). I ended up accepting a job at a small software company with the title of “software support” where I debug SQL procedures and sometimes debug C# code to solve client support cases. The reason I got the job? Only 7 people applied. The job isn’t fancy, or high paying. But am I getting to look at code every single day and make more than enough money to live comfortably? You bet. If I do this 40 hours a week for 18 months to 3 years will I eventually have the skill set to land those “software engineer” roles? Absolutely. QA and Support roles are where guys like me belong, and I had to learn the hard way that it was only my ego that was holding me back from starting my career.

ben profile image
Ben Halpern

First of all congrats at seeing some success, it's only the start of the journey I'm sure.

after 500 applications and 20 interviews

This is the part I cringe at. This is so painful for all involved.

It's one thing for the general numbers problem to exist and acknowledge the complexity of the problem — but I kind of feel like this is an epidemic.

fpaghar profile image
Fatemeh Paghar

My suggestion is to think about how AI (Artificial Intelligence) could help with finding jobs. Even though some people worry about AI being unfair, it's important to look for AI tools that are fair and clear. We should also remember the importance of human judgment alongside technology. Checking out tools like Commit Agent can show us how AI might make the job search easier while still keeping things friendly. It's good to stay open-minded and learn more about how AI can help with job hunting.