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Senior's thesis investigates how AI can help secure interviews

stoia portrait Rebecca Stoia, 20, is from Buffalo Grove, Illinois. She came to Lake Forest College because of its strong academic programs and affordability.
April 10, 2024
Meghan O’Toole

Rebecca Stoia ’24 saw herself facing a problem many graduates encounter when exiting college: searching for a job. Stoia combined her economics and data science majors to work on a thesis project that utilizes AI to help applications stand out.

Her thesis project addresses a major concern of jobseekers with no network connections who find themselves applying to hundreds of positions with no way to stand out from other applicants.

Programming in Python, Stoia has written script that scrapes job advertisements off LinkedIn. Her script identifies key words within the job posting, which she uses to tailor a resume with ChatGPT and Google Bard. This helps the resume stand out through the software many hiring managers use to process and filter applications.

“Essentially, since I’m in my last year of undergrad, I have been applying for a lot of jobs,” Stoia said. “I have interviewed for a few and got rejected from all of them. I was wondering if there was a way I could analyze how to improve my resume and create a more automated application process.”

Stoia sent out over 500 applications, some with the baseline unaltered resume, some using resumes tailored by ChatGPT, and some with resumes tailored with Google Bard. She then tracked which applications received a call back.

“I found that if a candidate tailors a resume with ChatGPT, they see a 14 percent increase in callbacks,” Stoia said. “With Google Bard, I saw a bit over 15 percent increased probability for an interview.”

Stoia’s script automates this process to help applicants apply to more jobs with resumes tailored to each job posting.

Her thesis was recognized for excellence at this year’s Midwest Economics Association conference. She was awarded the top undergraduate prize at the keynote lecture. She plans to make her code open source and accessible. 

“I really am so grateful for the flexibility I was given at Lake Forest College,” she said. “I have genuinely learned so much. I’ve had such an exponential growth. The advisors and mentors and professors supported me so much along the journey, especially Professor [Robert] Lemke who advised my paper and connected me with a network to help me get a job.”

As it turns out, Stoia was able to leverage her Forester network to land a job upon graduating this May. She will be a quantitative analyst for an asset management firm, and she looks forward to continuing to investigate the intersections between finance and technology.

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