Jane Genova
Jane Genova

A recent MIT study found that the quality of writing for a resume, when improved by AI, boosts the probability of hiring, does result in more offers, increases hourly compensation and leaves employers satisfied about their selections.

The Four Big Bangs

This research is seminal for communications. The implications go beyond job search.

To begin with, AI is everything now and AI was used to improve the writing. The best kind of career help might prove to be automated rather than human. The latter usually only makes generic suggestions such as “vary your word choices.” In addition to flagging that, AI provides the fixes. That is hands-on, not mere guidance.

Two, it is a wake-up call to digital free spirits that old-fashioned features such as spelling, punctuation, grammar, and phrase usage still factor into careers. Some remember when Robert Scoble declared all that did not matter anymore when he ran Microsoft’s “Scobleizer” in 2005. On popular legal tabloid Above the Law editor-in-chief Elie Mystal had made the same proclamation.

Three, the timing is significant because, as Monster documents, the cover letter is becoming obsolete. Therefore the resume is the only way job applicants introduce themselves to those hiring. Eliminating the cover letter, HRDive chronicles, began in 2019. More and more help-wanted ads indicate: cover letter optional, brief cover letter or resume only.

And four, in communications in general this provides a concrete example how AI can be incorporated as a tool into human content-creation activities. Even before OpenAI released ChatGPT on November 30, 2022, Thomas H. Davenport and Nitin Mittal published an article in the Harvard Business Review detailing how generative AI is changing creative work. Currently those conversations dominate LinkedIn.

Scope of Research, Findings

The MIT research, by Emma van Inwegen, et al., is “Algorithmic Writing Assistance on Jobseekers’ Resumes Increase Hires.” It involved 480,948 job seekers, who included a control group, of course. A non-identified algorithmic writing assistance company underlined common errors such as typos and faulty grammar, as well as substantive problems which impeded clarity and engagement. Along with that were the recommended modifications. There are a variety of such firms providing that kind of service, ranging from Jobscan to resumeA.I.

The study’s abstract states:

There is a strong association between the quality of the writing in a resume for new labor market entrants and whether those entrants are ultimately hired.

The results include:

  • 8% increase in probability of hiring
  • 4% more job offers (not simply callbacks)
  • 4% increase in hourly wage
  • Average employer satisfaction of employers with selections 8.8 on a 10-point scale.

More Food for Thought

What was a good-news finding for skilled writers is that they would not benefit from contracting for the AI review. It was those without that ability who would profit from investing in that type of AI assistance.

What is obvious is that careful attention to resume preparation is acting as a signaling system. It actually is being interpreted in terms of evidence of ability, along with the right attitude. This is analogous to employers taking grade point average so seriously. The high GPA delivers the message of achievement, hard work, and commitment.

Given that employers have been pleased with the hires, what could be playing out is that their expectation of the right fit can create it. That aura is a plus for the workforce.

Struggle Within Communications

Meanwhile, the work of anyone in communications who is not wrestling daily with the role of AI, including the generative AI branch, will probably no longer be considered relevant. It is likely that prospects and clients will demand explanations why AI is used or not used. Businesses are becoming aware of the potential. In “Generative AI Is Here,” McKinsey chronicles how that technology can increase efficiency and productivity, reduce costs, and open up fresh paths for growth.


Jane Genova provides Human Resources Communications and Intuitive Coaching Services (https://janegenovaintuitivecareercoaching.blogspot.com/) Complimentary Consultations [email protected].