In a previous study on Candidate Experience by Softgarden, the topic of AI in the application process was also explored. One question in this context was whether applicants had experience using AI for their cover letters. In spring 2023, 12.7% of respondents stated that they use AI to compose their cover letters, and an additional 36.6% were open to the idea.
In September of the same year, a short AI survey was conducted with 2,674 applicants. Interestingly, within this relatively short period, 19% were already using ChatGPT or similar tools to compose their cover letters, indicating a 6.3% increase in AI users among applicants in only a few months.
- Cover letters are becoming a thing of the past and reveal little about the motivation of job seekers. It is more likely that they provide information about the AI expertise of job seekers.
- Only 18.1% of respondents fear that their professional qualifications will no longer be needed in five years.
- Applicants have little objection to employers using AI, as long as human decision-making remains in place.
Moral Concerns on the Applicant's Side
Applicants who fundamentally reject the use of AI in the application process were already a minority at the time of the survey. The explanation is evident: more and more people are increasingly interacting with AI applications. The numbers support this, with 46.7% of respondents stating to have practical experience.
In this context, it can also be observed that moral concerns about the use of AI are decreasing. In numbers, this translates to six out of ten respondents being open to or having practical experience with AI in the application process.
Acceptance of AI in the Application Process
How do applicants feel about companies using artificial intelligence in the application process? The underlying study shows acceptance to be highest in the following areas:
- Crafting job advertisements (80.8%)
- Using AI for multiposting – deciding on the platforms where job ads are placed (63.5%)
- Selection based on written application documents, with AI providing only recommendations (63.4%)
- Using chatbots in applicant communication (62.9%)
However, the situation changes when AI goes beyond providing recommendations and autonomously decides on written applications. In this scenario, the approval rate drops from 63.4% to a mere 24.8%.
This indicates that applicants generally have no issue with companies utilizing AI in the application process, as long as the human element is not completely excluded from the decision-making process.
Applicants want to be transparently informed if AI is used in the application process, according to 82.6% of respondents. Almost 40% state that they would adjust their behavior accordingly, ranging from a stronger focus on AI desired qualities in composing applications to outright rejection of the employer.
AI and Job Loss
Interestingly, not even one in five academics is afraid of potential job loss due to growing AI use. This is particularly noteworthy because knowledge work is increasingly being replaced by AI.
Overall, the study shows that the fear of AI is significantly lower than suggested by some public discussions on the topic. Only 23.1% of respondents express fear of increasing AI use. The three main reasons for this fear are:
- Overreliance on AI
- Exclusion of human judgment – intuition
- Data privacy risks
Recommendations for Dealing with AI in HR Management
What can be concluded from these findings? Firstly, while growing AI use may lead to job loss, on the flip side, knowledge workers can increase their productivity through AI. In other words, the potential risk posed by AI can be counteracted by appropriate qualification measures, addressing the issue of skill shortages.
In any case, AI has rapidly found its place in the recruiting sector. Within a few months, there has been a significant increase in the percentage of applicants using AI for their cover letters. Considering these results, the following recommendations can be derived:
Abandon the cover letter and reassess other routines in the selection process. In general, text-based elements within applications should weigh less in decision-making in the future.
Use AI in recruiting, but do so thoughtfully. Like with any new developments, it cannot be stopped. Instead, it should be utilized wisely, without losing sight of crucial issues such as data privacy.
Consider the acceptance threshold of applicants. Companies should use artificial intelligence but not eliminate human interaction and decision-making.
Ensure transparency and communicate openly externally about whether and in what form AI is used in the application process.
Use AI in employee development to counteract skill shortages. Consider training measures.
Here's the complete study on "Artificial Intelligence in the Application Process" by Softgarden.