Applications of Artificial Intelligence and Career Development Work
By Debra Osborn & Melissa Venable
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not a new technology, but in late 2022 it became something anyone with a computer, smartphone, or tablet could not only experience first-hand, but also use in their work, thanks to the release of ChatGPT (Anyoha, 2017; Heaven, 2023). When prompted to define itself, ChatGPT generated this definition: “a cutting-edge language model that facilitates natural language interaction, offering a versatile tool for tasks ranging from content creation to customer support” (OpenAI, 2023). Among career development professionals (CPs), AI has been met with curiosity, skepticism, disparagement, and/or cautious optimism or unbridled excitement.
Since the launch of ChatGPT, AI applications continue to emerge. At least one source declares that as of March 2023, almost 15,000 artificial intelligence startups existed in the United States alone (McGill, n.d.). Applications such as ChatGPT and other AI-enhanced tools like Grammarly can quickly assist with some everyday tasks like writing and communicating as well as other work, like creating images, recruiting, note-taking, managing projects, creating videos, and conducting research (Rebelo, 2023). As AI tools evolve and become easier to access and use, their adoption and integration will likely continue. Exploring the AI impact on the workplace, career decision-making, and the job search can aid the work of the CP.
Impact on the Workplace
Technologies can directly affect employment and AI is no exception. An overall increase in workplace automation, which includes AI, is predicted to replace as much as 30% of work hours currently performed in the US (Ellingrud et al., 2023). In 2023, writers and actors in Hollywood, California voiced concerns about the lack of regulation limits on and the potential for abuse by AI, citing concerns that AI might create original works and lifelike avatars, in turn reducing jobs and income (Rogin, 2023). Recent surveys have indicated about 50% of individuals are concerned about how technology and specifically AI will impact their work (Contreras, 2023; NCDA, 2021). CPs need to be aware of these ongoing changes and concerns.
Tools for Career Practitioners and Job Seekers
Currently, there are several AI-based resources CPs can explore to support client career decision making and the job search. Note, the authors do not endorse any specific AI tools, including those mentioned in this article, but encourage readers to explore and evaluate the use of a variety of AI tools in career development work.
Career Exploration and Decision Making
AI tools can generate occupational matches to interests, skills, and/or a current career aspiration. CPs can show the clients how to prompt the AI tool to generate a list of occupations similar to a career aspiration, or to identify what types of training, skills or experiences might best prepare them. A client can prompt ChatGPT to provide information they should consider when thinking about a specific field, such as nursing. In that case, some of the recommendations included considering type of patient population, specializations, and personal qualities.
Job Search Uses
Jobscan uses AI to compare a resume to current job listings and makes recommendations for how to tailor the resume to the specific job opening, based on applicant tracking systems’ keywords of preferred hard and soft skills and experiences. A client who is seeking a new job can be shown how to input the qualifications of a published job opening to generate a list of similar job titles or draft a cover letter. CPs could encourage clients to type in their past job titles or skills and ask AI to generate a cover letter matching job requirements with their experiences. Resumes that match the cover letter can also be generated. ResumeGenius and Rezi are just two of the tools currently available to assist with these tasks. Other job search AI tools can quickly identify labor trends, potential employers, and strong interview questions. Google’s Interview Warmup offers practice interviewing with feedback.
Strategies and Recommendations for Career Practitioners
For those who are, like us – curious, skeptical, and excited – about the capabilities of AI, it can be difficult to find a place to start applying AI at work with clients. Sharing ideas and exploration tips with clients and students can be helpful as the role of the CP increasingly involves integrating daily work with technology. Keep in mind the following when providing career services:
- Teach students and clients about how to ask useful questions of AI. Asking, “What is the best career option for me given my interests?” will lead to general responses that do not consider the nuances of the individual’s situation. Thus, encourage more specific questions such as “What career options are suggested for someone with leadership skills?”
- Consider AI-generated information as a starting point. AI can assist with and augment exploration and decision-making, but it should not be relied on to make the decision. CPs can help clients use AI responsibly by modeling how to evaluate whether the information generated is valid and appropriate for the question being asked. CPs can ask questions, such as, “How does this fit with the information you already know about yourself and the options you have been considering?”
- Guide client use of AI. CPs might help clients use AI to inform their job search and career decision-making. For example, clients could be guided to use AI to create a personalized plan for using social media in their job search. This plan or list of tips could be discussed, modeled, roleplayed, and prioritized with the CP.
- Consider client skills and comfort level with AI. CPs work in various settings with diverse students and clients. Not all will be ready to make the leap to use AI in their career decisions and job searches. CPs should first ask about a client’s skills and comfort then, if desired, co-create a plan for using it, whether during or outside of session.
- Embrace a continuous learning approach with AI. There are emerging skills related to implementing AI tools (e.g., prompt writing) that should be on career practitioners’ radars for continued professional development as well as that of our students and clients who want to leverage these tools. One example would be exploring an NCDA webinar on AI (Mathews et al., 2023).
Best Practices that Reflect Reality, Intent and Accuracy
The possibilities for AI in practice are only beginning to emerge, creating both excitement and concern among professionals. AI applications can provide valuable insights into a variety of career development and job search contexts, as the examples in this article highlight. However, it is necessary to review and even edit what these applications generate in response to prompts to ensure it reflects reality, intent, and accuracy. Career practitioners are encouraged to practice cautious optimism as new uses of AI emerge, and to engage in ongoing conversations with others so as to evaluate best practices for use with students and clients.
Anyoha, R. (2017, August 28). The history of artificial intelligence. Science in the News. Harvard University. https://sitn.hms.harvard.edu/flash/2017/history-artificial-intelligence/
Contereras, B. (2023, August 6). Actors and writers aren’t the only ones worried about AI, new polling shows. Los Angeles Times. https://www.latimes.com/entertainment-arts/business/story/2023-08-06/actors-and-writers-are-worried-about-ai-so-is-everyone-else-new-polling-shows
Ellingrud, K., Sanghvi, S., Dandona, G. S., Madgavkar, A., Chui, M., White, O., & Hasebe, P. (2023, July 26). Generative AI and the future of work in America. McKinsey Global Institute. https://www.mckinsey.com/mgi/our-research/generative-ai-and-the-future-of-work-in-america
Heaven, W. D. (2023, March 3). The inside story of how ChaptGPT was built from the people who made it. MIT Technology Review. https://www.technologyreview.com/2023/03/03/1069311/inside-story-oral-history-how-chatgpt-built-openai/
Mathews, L., Kettunen, J., Lee, H., Schifeling, J., & Zimenoff, M. (2023, August). Artificial intelligence: Will AI replace career development professionals in the future? NCDA Webinar Series. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ygfjq0oeww
McGill, J. (n.d.). How many AI tools are there? Content at Scale. https://contentatscale.ai/how-many-ai-tools-are-there/
National Career Development Association. (2021). Perceptions of career development from working America. https://www.ncda.org/aws/NCDA/asset_manager/get_file/628297?ver=0
OpenAI. (2023). ChatGPT: Enhancing natural language interaction. https://chat.openai.com/c/073536da-e174-4f63-aae9-7c8c3dd38a6e
Rebelo, M. (2023, July 13). The best AI productivity tools in 2023. Zapier Blog. https://zapier.com/blog/best-ai-productivity-tools/
Rogin, A. (2023, September 2). Why artificial intelligence is a central dispute in the Hollywood strikes. PBS NewsHour. https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/why-artificial-intelligence-is-a-central-dispute-in-the-hollywood-strikes
Debra Osborn, PhD, is a Professor and Co-director of Psychological and Counseling Services in the Educational Psychology and Learning Systems Department at Florida State University. She is also the Co-Director and Senior Research Associate for the Center for the Study of Technology in Counseling and Career Development at FSU. In this position, she is responsible for overseeing and conducting research on the design and use of information technology in counseling, as well as the study of vocational behavior and the delivery of career services. Her research interests include the identifying predictors of and best practices for increasing positive/ decreasing negative career outcomes, applying career-related theory (especially Cognitive Information Processing theory) in research and practice, the infusion of art therapy with career counseling, and exploring the role technology can play in enhancing and extending services. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org or linkedin.com/in/debosborn
Melissa A. Venable, PhD, is the Director of Professional Development for NCDA. She coordinates learning opportunities through The Hub, Career Practitioner Conversations podcast, and a webinar series. She has more than 15 years of experience in online education as an instructional designer, curriculum manager, and online instructor. Her professional background includes work in higher education career services and military outplacement counseling. Melissa also currently serves as Board Chair for the Beaufort (SC) Digital Corridor, a not-for-profit startup incubator supporting tech entrepreneurship in her local community. You can reach her at email@example.com and https://www.linkedin.com/in/melissavenable/