A majority of hiring managers would prefer to hire a candidate with fewer years of relevant work experience but more experience with artificial intelligence, according to new research released Monday by Resume Templates.
Based on a survey of 780 hiring managers, the research asked the participants to choose from four potential candidates with varying years of experience and degrees of AI skills. More than half (56%) of the managers chose a candidate with relevant experience and some AI skills.
“Possessing at least a basic understanding of a specific domain, in combination with having AI skills, can enable candidates to compete with more experienced counterparts,” Resume Templates’ Executive Resume Writer and Career Coach Andrew Stoner said in a statement.
“Candidates with less experience looking to stand out in the hiring process should be sure to highlight job-specific, relevant skills on their resume and give solid examples during the interview process,” he added.
“Obtaining in-demand professional or technical certifications is another way candidates can level up,” he continued. “Lastly, AI-generated work samples or simulations might be a new strategy for candidates to demonstrate their skills.”
Resume Templates speculated that one reason hiring managers are looking for AI skills is because their companies are expanding the use of the technology. According to the survey, 74% of hiring managers said AI was very important (33%) or somewhat important (41%) to their companies, while 73% said their organizations would definitely (41%) or probably (32%) expand the use of AI in 2024.
Allure of Increased Productivity
“Generative AI is seen as an increasingly useful tool in the workplace, so hiring managers might be considering the benefits of someone coming in with a solid understanding of its uses to quickly improve tasks and efficiencies,” explained Thomas Vick, a senior regional director for Robert Half, a global staffing and recruiting firm.
“In some cases, employers may consider bending on other qualifications for a candidate with experience using generative AI,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“As many companies consider implementing generative AI in the workplace, they understand that this comes with setting up new guidelines and training options for workers to fully understand its benefits,” he added. “Hiring someone who already has experience utilizing generative AI might cut down on the amount of training needed as well as help other employees find and understand ways for AI to improve efficiencies and tasks.”
Potential productivity gains may also be making candidates with AI proficiency attractive hires. “For hiring managers, the allure of AI skills is twofold: immediate productivity gains and potential future benefits as AI technology advances,” said Aswin Prabhakar, a policy analyst at the Center for Data Innovation, a think tank studying the intersection of data, technology, and public policy, in Washington, D.C.
“This perspective is based on empirical evidence suggesting AI proficiency directly correlates with enhanced work efficiency,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Thus, from a strategic standpoint, prioritizing AI experience is a forward-looking decision, anticipating both immediate and long-term returns on investment in human capital.”
Filling Talent Voids
In some cases, candidates with AI expertise may be needed to fill skill gaps in an organization, added Peter Follows, CEO of the global management consulting firm Carpedia and author of “Results Not Reports.”
“A hiring manager might be in a position to weigh AI experience over job experience if the hiring organization’s primary growth strategy includes the expansion of AI tools at a variety of levels,” he told TechNewsWorld.
“Hiring is not only to fill a function but to complement the skills and talent of the team in place,” he explained. “If a void exists within the organizational composition, hiring managers are charged with filling that void. This is particularly true if training is not readily available or immediately applicable, as is often the case when a new technology is adopted or adapted to a specific industry’s needs.”
It’s fair to weigh specific AI experience over career experience in roles where AI expertise is critical to success, noted Kyle Samuels, CEO of Creative Talent Endeavors, an executive search and HR consulting firm in Charlotte, N.C.
“However,” he told TechNewsWorld, “for roles where success depends more on relationships and interpersonal skills, AI proficiency may be less crucial, even in today’s rapidly advanced AI environment. Balancing AI experience with traditional experience can be key, depending on the nature of the job and the company’s strategic goals.”
Soft Skills Still Matter
When considering a new hire, AI experience shouldn’t outweigh job experience, maintained Ashley Leonard, CEO of Syxsense, a cloud-native, automated endpoint and vulnerability management company in Aliso Viejo, Calif. “In my opinion, both skill sets are important to have,” he said.
“While AI can do a lot of heavy lifting on tasks like writing code, the person who is using AI for that task needs to understand if the output is correct or good,” Leonard told TechNewsWorld. “It’s hard to know that without having firsthand knowledge or job experience.”
“When it comes to the hiring process, the relevance of AI experience should be minimal,” added Michael Gibbs, CEO and founder of Go Cloud Careers, a cloud computing training company in Port Saint Lucie, Fla.
“What truly matters are competencies, communication skills, emotional intelligence, interpersonal abilities, and, naturally, a positive attitude,” he told TechNewsWorld. “Integrating AI with individuals who possess these qualities can enhance their desirability to employers, irrespective of their level of prior experience.”
Valuable Resume Skill
Nevertheless, AI competency can be a valuable skill for a job candidate. “AI is an extraordinarily valuable skill to have on a resume in 2024,” Follows said.
“If you are dealing with the more advanced organizations, it is valuable to be able to put AI on your resume. It is definitely something that is not a negative,” Ira Winkler, chief information security officer at CYE, a cybersecurity optimization company in Tel Aviv, Israel, told TechNewsWorld.
However, an AI reference on a resume needs to mean more than a club listing in a high school yearbook, cautions Steven Pivnik, a serial entrepreneur and author of “Built to Finish: How To Go the Distance in Business and Life.”
“Candidates need to provide specific examples of how they utilized AI and the benefits it offered them in the past. The more detailed, the better,” he told TechNewsWorld. “A programmer can’t say, ‘I can code.’ They need to provide specific examples of tech that they use. It’s the same now with AI.”