Job Seekers with AI-Boosted Resumes More Likely to be Hired

Deborah Lynn Blumberg | MIT Sloan | April 26, 2023

Algorithmic writing assistance can help new job seekers find and fix spelling, grammatical, and usage errors in their resumes. Employers approve, research shows.

New job applicants who were randomly assigned algorithmic assistance with their resumes — that is, received help from an interface that offered suggestions to improve spelling and grammar — were 8% more likely to be hired, according to an experiment conducted by MIT Sloan PhD student Emma van Inwegen and co-researchers.

“If you take two identical workers with the same skills and background, the one with the better-written resume is more likely to get hired,” van Inwegen said. “The takeaway is that employers actually care about the writing in the resume — it’s not just a correlation.” That means that AI assistance can be a useful tool for those hoping to get hired, she said.

The results were summarized in a working paper titled “Algorithmic Writing Assistance on Jobseekers’ Resumes Increases Hires,” which was co-authored by MIT Sloan PhD student Zanele Munyikwa and MIT Sloan professor John J. Horton.

More offers and higher wages

To examine how the quality of writing on a resume affects hiring, the researchers studied new users participating in a global online labor market for contract work.

The researchers studied 480,948 job seekers who first signed on to the marketplace between June 8 and July 14, 2021. In order of frequency, applicants’ primary job categories were design and creative, writing, administrative support, and software development.

While 14% of the job seekers were based in the U.S., more than 80% lived in a country where English is not the native language, including India and Bangladesh. The labor market’s primary language is English.

The researchers intercepted job seekers at the resume-writing stage of the sign-up process and randomly offered half of them algorithmic writing assistance; the other half filled in the resume section of the site without assistance.

Applicants in the treatment group were presented with a tool that offered suggestions for fixing spelling and grammatical errors and gave advice on punctuation, word usage, phrase overuse, tone, and style.

Van Inwegen and her co-authors found that job applicants who had algorithmic assistance received 7.8% more job offers and were more likely to be hired in their first month on the platform than the unassisted control group.

And those with assistance earned wages that were 8.4% higher than the control group’s, making $18.62 per hour on average versus $17.17 per hour for those who had received no resume help.

Read the full article here.

By MIT Sloan CDO