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How AI Is Changing the Way We Apply to Jobs and Internships

Artificial intelligence isn’t new to the hiring process. Most HR executives (79 percent) use tools to filter and screen applications in their recruiting, interviewing and hiring processes.

Some are conducting computerized screening interviews in which candidates provide answers to a predetermined set of questions so that they can be scored and compared. Others are using “text scrapers” to search applications for keywords that match desired skills and qualifications as part of their people analytics strategy.

Understanding how that is changing job and internship applications allows you to create a strategy that increases your chance of landing an interview.

“2024 is the year for incoming professionals to gain a deeper knowledge and understanding of AI,” said Petrina Thompson, Brightside’s head of HR and client services. “These rapidly evolving technologies are changing the way we work, and organizations are starting to look at everything through more AI-enabled lenses.”

Here’s what you need to know to create resumes and applications that stand out in applicant tracking systems (ATS).

Game the System to Beat the Bots

Knowing how screening software sorts through applications can give you a leg up. Here are three things to keep in mind:

  1. Customize your application. Screening software scans for keywords and skills related to the job and the industry. Before applying, research the company and the role. Review the job posting and identify relevant keywords and phrases for the specific position and industry. Find ways to work what you’ve found into your resume and cover letter so it sounds as natural as possible.
  2. Use plain text formatting. ATSs can’t read formatting from Microsoft Word documents. Keep it simple; avoid color, bullets and other formatting features to reduce the risk of the system rejecting your application. Prepare a more formal resume and have it available for in-person or email correspondence.
  3. Test your application. Search for free ATS sites online, upload a plain text version of your application and see what happens. The ATS review software can compare it to job postings and provide insights into how your resume and cover letter will perform.     

Modifying a resume and cover letter for each job can be time consuming. AI can help you save time on the application process and basic job application requirements.

“For example, applicants can use AI to help create a first draft of their resume or to create a professional headshot,” Thompson said. “Applicants can also use AI technology to prepare for their interviews by providing a detailed job description and a company description and asking AI technology for customized interview questions to practice answering ahead of time.” 

Develop AI Skills

Some job postings and job descriptions already specify the need for AI skills. That is likely to increase as time goes on, so developing your AI skills allows you to leverage those keywords to stand out in candidate screening software.

“Incoming generations of workers will need to prove they have AI skills and hands-on experience to differentiate themselves from the competition,” Thompson said. “In other words, having a basic knowledge of how to use AI technologies will be crucial to landing a job as ‘AI literacy’ will become a basic skill requirement.”

Thompson recommends taking courses, enrolling in certificate programs, joining online AI communities or seeking a mentor with AI experience who works in the space you want to work in.

If AI and technology is where you want to focus, SHRM offers two relevant specialty credentials—the Advanced Technology Specialty Credential and the Strategic Capabilities Specialty Credential. These are offered in partnership with the Caltech Future Skills Academy and are designed to prepare HR professionals for the adoption of new technologies in the workplace.

AI is evolving rapidly, and one of the best ways to gain experience is to dive right in. Experiment with free tools and test different prompts to see what returns the most useful and accurate response.

Job seekers can “make this fun by playing with prompts and topics that are personally exciting to them, like planning a vacation or exploring social media like TikTok and YouTube for content to help spark inspiration around what’s possible to do with AI,” Thompson said.

Remember, AI is another tool recruiters and hiring managers use to streamline their processes, but there is still a very real human element involved. So, in addition to making the most of AI tools, continue to network and connect with people through other channels like LinkedIn and by attending SHRM chapter events.


​An organization run by AI is not a futuristic concept. Such technology is already a part of many workplaces and will continue to shape the labor market and HR. Here's how employers and employees can successfully manage generative AI and other AI-powered systems.