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Work → In Progress: Finding A Job In The Matrix
Carl-Johan Karlsson

In early civilizations, landing a job amounted to interning until your employer died. Fast-forward a few thousand years and fortunately, internships have gotten shorter ... and life expectancy has gotten longer! Still, job hunting has become a journey marked by alternating pulls of hope and hysteria. The swift ascension of global connectedness, Artificial Intelligence, the shifting nature of social norms are uprooting the way we're evaluated by recruiters.

This edition of Work → In Progress dives into how these transformations affect us today and what expectations we should have for recruitment in the future. In many countries, the classic curriculum vitae is becoming obsolete as recruiters use AI and virtual-reality simulations to evaluate candidates; in Russia, employers are shifting their focus from looks to merit; while in the U.S., "likability" might soon be more important than your masters' degree.​


WHAT IF AI DOESN'T LIKE ME? In Amsterdam, ketchup manufacturer Kraft Heinz relies on Artificial Intelligence to recruit, assess, hire, and manage their staff. Defenders of AI-based recruitment claim it removes human bias and promotes diversity, but others say it might just as well enhance existing biases or actively create new ones since the algorithms must be designed by human (usually male) developers. It's still probably too early to decide whether machines should be welcomed as gatekeepers to our dream jobs. Frida Polli, CEO of the AI-driven recruitment platform used by Heinz, puts it this way: "AI is like teenage sex, everyone says they're doing it, and nobody really knows what it is."​

STAT DU JOUR

Big Brother is watching, and we are starting to like it: In 2015, only 30% of companies were using monitoring techniques to collect data on how employees spend their time at work, reports Workplace Intelligence. That number is expected to grow to 80% in 2020. Today, 30% of people say they are comfortable with having their email monitored by employers, up from 10% in 2015.

BIG OR THICK, OR BOTH? Perhaps the way to a bias-free recruitment process is to merge artificial and human intelligence. Big data can provide real-time information on consumer and social trends, but a deeper social analysis would require adding "thick data" — or information derived from human behavior. Diego Fuentes dives into these two data types in Santiago-based America Economia, and Worldcrunch has the full article here in English.

NO RESUMES NEEDED! In addition to the new challenge of outfoxing algorithms, your future career might ultimately depend on a much more basic standard: whether people like you. Psychologist Dawn Graham writes in Forbeson the topic of "likability," which many believe is an innate quality. Yet Graham gives some practical advice on how to raise your likability quotient during a job interview:

1: Be Human! A big part of the interview is evaluating if you're a good fit for the team. That isn't something you can fake ... Prepare the best you can, and then be yourself.

2: Know Your Audience. In order to sell the product (which is you), it's critical to know what's important to the buyer.

RUSSIAN BEAUTY A study found that the number of employers in Russia who saw appearance as an important recruitment factor has fallen from 82% to 66% over the last decade, reports Rossiyskaya Gazeta. While many in the looks-conscious country may still airbrush their LinkedIn photo, the study found that employees now perceive looks as less important in career advancement, down from 84% to 60% over the same period.

ODD JOB

GREEN-COLLAR JOBS IN ARGENTINA A more sustainable economy has created a new workforce in advanced fields like electricity generation, transportation and energy storage. However, not all green-collar jobs require a master's degree. In Argentina, more than 150,000 people work with recovering recyclable materials in urban centers or at garbage dumps, reports La Nacion. Under the banner of "inclusive recycling," many of the workers are organizing in cooperatives to promote social security. On average, every worker recovers about 100 kilos of waste per day — the equivalent of what is generated by 100 people.

FUTURE OF WORK, FLASHBACK

How far is it from New York to Buffalo? Why is cast iron called pig iron? What country produce the finest china?

You don't know?! Well, then we regret to inform you that Thomas Edison wouldn't have hired you. A century ago, Edison pioneered the employment form, with his 146-question quiz for prospective employees at his power plant. In 1921, the New York Times revealed the quiz, which became a national topic of controversy. Reporters even took the test to Albert Einstein who flunked for not knowing the exact speed of sound … Duh. Trivia masochists can take the test, republished here on Gizmodo. And we'll leave it to the AI developers to feed Edison's data into their next algorithm!

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Society

How India’s Women Are Fighting Air Pollution — And The Patriarchy

India is one of the world's worst countries for air pollution, with women more likely to be affected by the problem than men. Now, experts and activists are fighting to reframe pollution as a gendered health crisis.

A woman walking through dense fog in New Delhi

*Saumya Kalia

MUMBAI In New Delhi, a city that has topped urban air-pollution charts in recent years, Shakuntala describes a discomfort that has become too familiar. Surrounded by bricks and austere buildings, she tells an interviewer: "The eyes burn and it becomes difficult to breathe". She is referring to the noxious fumes she routinely breathes as a construction worker.

Like Shakuntala, women’s experiences of polluted air fill every corner of their lives – inside homes, in parks and markets, on the way to work. Ambient air in most districts in India has never been worse than it is today. As many as 1.67 million people in the country die prematurely due to polluted air. It is India’s second largest health risk after malnutrition.

This risk of exposure to air pollution is compounded for women. Their experiences of toxic air are more frequent and often more hazardous. Yet “policies around air quality have not yet adequately taken into account gender or other factors that might influence people’s health,” Pallavi Pant, a senior scientist at the Health Effects Institute, a nonprofit in the U.S., told The Wire Science.

“It’s unacceptable that the biggest burden [rests on] those who can least bear it,” Sherebanu Frosh, an activist, added. People like her are building a unique resistance within India.

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