What are AI recruiters looking for?
Robotics. Thinking machines. Autonomous vehicles. Today, AI and machine learning (ML) are driving innovation and creating new careers in an ever broadening field. While landing a great career in AI-ML might seem improbable, new opportunities arise every day. Across industries, developers are creating machines that make decisions in much the same way as the human mind. AI-ML is not altogether new. However, these applications are increasingly running in the background, automating decisions, and appearing in places not seen before.
The skills and talents needed to create this AI-driven future are in high demand, and are critical to meeting important needs in the government sector from military readiness to cybersecurity. We spoke with Mark Clark, Leidos principal investigator and senior program manager, about what it takes to build a career in the field of AI-ML.
Q: What are some of the major AI-ML trends that stand out to recruiters today?
Clark: First, people are excited yet fearful about what new technologies can do. Innovative software engineers and data scientists want to be a part of the group that is providing leadership in determining the capabilities and research directions of AI-ML. Recruiters are looking for candidates who aspire to shape the direction in which the field is moving. Second, universities are continuously challenged with preparing students to work in a field that is new and rapidly changing. To stay on the leading edge of the field, it’s important for students to understand how educational resources can best be leveraged.
, Senior Program Manager
Perhaps the most valuable skill for an AI-ML candidate to have is adaptability in order to adjust to new and changing fields.
Q: How can AI-ML career candidates use their background to help them land a position?
Clark: Oftentimes a candidate’s potential is hidden in their résumé, or not explicitly stated. Candidates looking to launch a career in AI-ML should always think about ways to go beyond the expected and list relevant participation in school or other independent activities on their résumés. A great example is designing an automated chess game or competing in robotics contests. Whether done in a classroom or not, these are experiences that stand out and are directly relevant in the field. Candidates can also use their resumes to point out nontechnical abilities, such as work ethic and a desire to grow. Conversely, recruiters should have the ability to look past traditional technical labels and field definitions and realize that mathematicians, statisticians, and engineers have valuable technical skills that can be adapted to data science and software design projects.
Q: What skills do you look for in AI-ML developers?
Clark: In a competitive recruiting environment, candidates with strong technical skills are in high demand. Employers look for coders and programmers who have put emphasis on developing strong mathematics skills, have the ability to leverage open-source technology, and are able to not only create applications from scratch, but also modify and understand existing applications. Throughout the education and training process, developers should have conversations about the specific programming languages needed to be successful. Of course, thinking critically and being analytical is always important—finding pitfalls in data collection, learning and applying new programming languages, and understanding user needs are all additional skills that potential job seekers need to possess.
Q: How are universities preparing students for AI-ML careers of the future?
Clark: Perhaps the most valuable skill for an AI-ML candidate to have is adaptability in order to adjust to new and changing fields. Oftentimes, students are best served by taking advantage of the new opportunities made available by their schools. George Washington University (GWU) is a great example. For one, the school has embraced more interactive learning, which allows students to get hands-on experience with data science and experience the power of AI-ML. Schools like GWU accomplish this by having students complete coursework via interactive notebooks. Completing projects and papers in this way allows students to integrate more cutting-edge solutions into the coding skills they are cultivating.
Q: What draws the best and brightest AI-ML talent to Leidos?
Clark: Leidos provides unique opportunities for candidates interested in AI-ML. We find that candidates are typically most interested in learning about the research we support, the relationships we have with research institutions, and how that relates to developing cutting-edge technology. So, what draws people to us when there are so many other companies right next door? The innovative talents, creativity, and diversity of our teams, project opportunities, and our internal referral network. These referrals are people that we would oftentimes be unable to reach with our traditional recruitment methods. We also reconsider candidates who come back to us with updated job skills and or professional experiences. These candidates readily exhibit their desire to grow and improve, and their interest in our work at Leidos.
Q: How do you see AI-ML developers affecting the technology landscape overall?
Clark: Even though AI-ML is an established field of research, it is still growing. Our process of developing technology and growing AI-ML capabilities provides important insights into how people are “re-thinking” the future. It is important to note that AI-ML is an enhancement to human intellect. As it stands, humans do not have the imagination to think of all the different ways machine learning can be applied, because we have inherent limitations. Leidos is working past the way AI-ML experts used to think, and we are investing in developers who are able to break down barriers and create new technologies that were previously unimaginable. Leidos researchers are working to get to a place in automation where manual tasks are more effectively completed by AI-ML empowered technologies that augment applications and make them more effective.
For an overview of AI-ML career opportunities at Leidos, click here.