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The Arrival of Artificial Intelligence in Careers

Authored by: Roger Pearman and Robert Eichinger

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has arrived with a big bang and with a myriad of opinions about whether it is an ultimately good or bad thing (it can and will be both), how smart it is and how smart it will become. It is oft said that it will never be as good as the human brain. In this we agree, as it is most certainly going to be better.  

AI has passed the bar exam, graduated from college, passed the medical boards, accurately predicted stock prices better than the average broker and analyst, more accurately and consistently diagnosed patient complaints than the average physician and created new, viable drugs faster than the scientists…and it’s only six months old and in the hands of new users!

AI is writing high school and college papers, driving cars, analyzing the cosmos through the Webb Telescope, finding and calculating the course of potentially dangerous asteroids heading in the direction of Earth, and the tech prognosticators are predicting 300 million people around the world will have to reskill and find other employment.

On a narrower focus, what can AI and VR and the Metaverse do for talent management?  A lot, already, and in the future, even more.

Artificial Intelligence and KSAs

The easiest thing that AI can do is knowledge transfer. Career progress and success is partly due to having and applying knowledge. It is part of the KSAs of success– Knowledge, Skills and productive Attributes (personality, style, type, values and beliefs).

The history of knowledge transfer is both evolutionary and revolutionary.  In the beginning, elders and shamans would tell stories around the fire to pass knowledge (K) and lessons of life and hunting to the next generations.  Then written language was developed so it could be recorded and read.  Which led to the printing press and schools designed for formal knowledge transfer, skills development and acculturation and character (the A of KSA).

This all led to the printing of encyclopedias, where all the material knowledge of the world could be found in 27 volumes. There was one volume for each letter of the alphabet and one for stuff that didn’t fit anywhere else, conveniently. While many homes had a set, many others could not afford them. Libraries emerged for the masses to borrow books. The encyclopedias and libraries were used to complete homework assignments and for general knowledge (and for settling questions of trivia).

Arrival of the Digital Age

Then the digital age and the internet appeared. Most of the material knowledge of everything is available, yet finding it and validating it to be true was the new required skill. Search engines evolved to help in search effectiveness and efficiency.  

Wikipedia was created as a crowd funded (written and edited) narrative about, well, everything. Basically, it’s a digital encyclopedia organized by topic instead of by the alphabet.  Used for homework assignments, general learning (and for settling questions of trivia).

AI is impacting Knowledge, the K in KSA, by providing access to all the materially important knowledge from the entire world, organized when you simply ask a question. In a few seconds, it scans all information it can find from everywhere that written language exists (LLM-large language model technology), decides (calculates in milliseconds) as it crafts its answer to your question the most viable next word (and then the next and the next and the next) in service to your question, and prints it out–with pictures, charts, formatting, references, and graphs if asked.  

Specific to talent management, AI has the resources that support work, managing and leading. It can tell you the material history of any company you might be trying to join. It can summarize the lessons learned from legendary leaders, call up motivating quotes by past heroes, offer the most frequently asked questions in an interview along with the best answers to give. For those who ask, most everything is available.

Artificial Intelligence for Skills and Attributes

For Skills, the S in KSA, AI can inform as to what skills are necessary for most jobs and even preferred by specific companies. It can define the skills, can help you develop a skill with courses, books, webcasts, schools, TED Talks, and references.  It can lay out a plan and help track progress. 

For Attributes, the A in KSA, you can take tests, surveys and fill out questionnaires to assess attributes. You can ask which attributes a particular job requires. You can ask what a specific company is looking for, and it can lay out a development plan to adjust attributes.

AI today, with significant additions in time, can help find, plan for, and be successful in a career.  It can contribute to more accurate self-knowledge, add material knowledge, build skills and adjust personality.

Artificial Intelligence for whom?

Who might avail themselves of such a powerful resource?  It is available to everyone with access to a device, but many will not take advantage of it. Who will?

It’s most likely to be the same type of people who attended the camp fire stories, read cave writings, read books, used encyclopedias and Wikipedia.  Those who took career aligned majors and minors, finished college with a respectable record of accomplishment and who took advantage of the opportunities to grow and develop. 

In simpler terms, it’s most likely going to be those with high professional ambitions.

These are “careerists” with an IQ aligned with the complexity of their chosen career.  They have high aspirations and are learning agile. They are performers in all aspects of life and work, with a quiver full of the lessons of life and work accumulated over time and following the 70/20/10 learning pathways.

70/20/10 captures the common sense that we a) learn best by doing, b) learn from others, and c) add knowledge transfer from books and seminars and eLearning. Careerists cap it off with another meme: DIVA – exposures and experiences characterized by Diversity, Intensity, Variety and Adversity–all to prepare to be able to perform in VUCA – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (like Covid).

It is most likely that the same people who have accessed and continue to access opportunities to grow and develop will be the people who use AI and VR, and eventually the Metaverse. What is likely to follow these are wearable devices and then, eventually, implants, meaning AI will be with you and available all the time.

Artificial Intelligence in Practice

Envision an interview for an exciting career opportunity in a new industry and in a different market for a job that isn’t what you have done in the past.  While you can prepare to interview without AI, you no doubt understand this is a formidable task, consuming great amount of time and effort. Or consider…

Good morning AI.

Tell me the most important things to know about the ABC Company.

How financially sound are they?

What is their share of market?

How would you describe their culture like?

What is their turnover rate?

Do they think employee development is important?

What are the skills required for this position?

How do I compare to that list of skill requirements?

What are the ten most common aspects of the industry ABC is in?

Which are the geographic markets they are in?

Provide a short summary of their 10K and Annual Report.

And so on, and so on.

Perhaps this takes a couple of hours of prep work.

Knowing now what you didn’t know then

AI can be a very powerful career coach and mentor, like TeleDoc and WebMD are for healthcare information and needs.

Gaining exposures and experiences takes a significant amount of time—years or even decades. AI and other tech tools can shorten the time. It can take you places, show you things and teach you things. 

Never been to Japan before?  Need to prep?

Good morning AI.

Give me a three-page history of Japan.

What are the key aspects of the Japanese culture?

What are the key do’s and don’ts when transacting business in Japan.

Show me the Japanese and global markets in which the ABC product is being sold?

What’s the consumer response to the ABC product in Japan?

Show me the best three hotels in Kyoto. Make a reservation for me.

What are the five most common restaurant dinners?

Are gluten-free bakery goods available?

What are the most common complaints about businesspeople from my country?

How good are hospitals and medical care should I need help?

And so on and so on.

AI can be a very powerful preparation tool for getting ready for any new or unfamiliar experience, complete with pictures and videos. It is a very high potential tool and it will be used by companies to improve talent management–better selection, better assessment, better development, and better succession planning.  AI will inform on scientific findings, find best practices, improve processes, and find exemplars of talent management done well by professional practitioners.

AI will help the careerist create a blueprint and will then help build the career.

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