24th Annual ACFE Fraud Conference, JobBots, and Mock Interviews

I just returned from speaking at the 24th Annual Conference of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) in Las Vegas, Nevada. Quite an impressive organization, with 2,500+ anti-fraud experts in attendance at the conference, which was held at the magnificent Aria Resort and Casino.

My three 15-minute “Makeover” presentations (cover letter, résume, and interview strategies) on the exhibit hall stage were very well attended and received, and my 80-minute breakout session, “Stacking the Deck: Make Yourself the Hiring Manager’s Candidate of Choice” was even filmed (in part) by a crew from CNBC, perhaps for a future program on the world’s largest anti-fraud organization. I’m sure the footage of my presentation will end up on the cutting room floor since there were far more stellar personalities lined up to speak (Actor Stacy Keach, narrator of CNBC’s American Greed; former Enron CFO, Andy Fastow; and Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York).

It appears that my message hit all the right interest levels according to the speaker evaluations, though I am perplexed as to why each year in the “Constructive Changes for Making the Presentation More Effective” field on the form, one or two people blame me for such things as “the room is too cold/too hot”, “we need tables to write on”, or “there should be a handout” (even though I emphasized at the onset of my presentation that the conference paper–included in everyone’s registration packet–had all the details of the presentation).

JobBots: Why You Probably Didn’t Get that Job You Were Highly Qualified For

I came across an article in a magazine on the flight out to Las Vegas for the ACFE Conference that described how “JobBots”– software embedded in many applicant tracking systems–are used to screen pools of online applications and online résumé submissions. According to a 2012 CIO magazine article, JobBots are error-prone apps that eliminate “75 percent of job-seekers’ chances of landing an interview as soon as they submit their résumés, no matter how qualified they may be.”  Peter Cappelli, author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs stated that JobBots are “really cheap but not very effective in finding the people companies want.”

The best use of JobBots is as an initial filter to screen out applicants who fail to meet minimum job requirements. At that point, skilled recruiters, HR professionals, and hiring managers should take over. However, with the advent of job boards and other online job sites, thousands of résumés now flood HR departments. With the human resource function now having to shift more emphasis on federal and state compliance with all types of legislation, and toward more comprehensive strategic corporate objectives, increasingly the applicant screening function is being turned over to JobBots.

The problem is that humans can spot talent better than any software algorithm, and this is especially true in the high-tech world where increasingly the types and degrees of specialization require a trained eye to spot. One HR representative affirmed what I’ve been preaching in my presentations for a few years now, that “A great résumé gets noticed, but at most companies it’s about who referred you.”

Mock Interviews

I participated in several mock interviews with ACFE attendees, hoping to coach them in ways that would improve their interview skills. Everyone I worked with was intelligent, articulate, personable, and had impressive expertise. Yet, nearly everyone missed the chance to sell me on who they are (not what they are) when asked: “So, tell me about yourself.” Invariably, each person launched into a verbal narrative about their experience, expertise, and previous positions. They missed a golden opportunity to wax eloquent (within reason) about who they are as a person. When I brought this to their attention and gave them a “retry”, nearly everyone got it.

However, in an interview, there are no second chances to get it right!

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