Tag Archives: AI

A chatbot as live representation of my resume

How to differentiate yourself when sending a resume to a recruiter? I trained a chatbot to respond to the most common questions a recruiter is asking.

To get attention from recruiters nowadays is not easy. Making a decent resume in a 2-page PDF is no longer a skill, nor you can differentiate yourself with it. A complete and neat LinkedIn profile is a must. And online you can find beautiful designed ‘designer resumes’ which makes you wonder why you skipped arts class. Adding ‘creative’ to your skills is not creative any more. Who would hire somebody who says he isn’t creative?

My first attempt to differentiate was via a graphic recording of my resume. It was a technique I learned from Martine of VisualHarvesting.com. You can view the visual representation here. While it is kinda original, it represents the technique and my skills of applying it, but not the skills I want to exhibit to recruiters.

I have experience with digital transformation and facilitating change & innovation in a large international organization, so my resume should reflect that. A bit more ‘innovative’, instead of ‘original’. That’s when the idea of implementing a chatbot came. A chatbot to represent my personal resume. A chatbot that could be a first contact to interview me about my career, strengths, skills, improvement points, etc. I’m sure I’m not the first one to have this idea, but I would like to put it into practice.

Finding a chatbot service

I have a Master in Computer Science and a post-graduate in Software Development, but during my career I grew to more an organizational and policy function. So my Master in IT is a good base to start with, but my developing skills are aged and out of date. So I had to find a chatbot I could deploy without having a server and having to code.

After a quick search, I found Botsify.com. The site promises an AI chatbot without coding and easy integration with Facebook Messenger. If you’re creating a chatbot for your resume, it should be publicly accessible and almost everyone should be on Messenger by now, so that was a no-brainer.

Charlie with Botsify

Botsify was easy to start with and I created a chatbot named Charlie (a nickname my first department head gave me) to represent myself. The first version of Charlie was made to respond to keywords.

Eg. “What are Karel’s strengths?” gave the reply “Karel’s strengths are starting up (change) initiatives, creative and innovative communication, entrepreneurship, public speaking, visualization and his passion & enthusiasm.”

This seemed too easy to be true! And than the first feedback of the testers came in: the chatbot couldn’t understand the intent of the user chatting with it.

Eg. “What does Karel like?” gave the reply “Karel likes making the digital transformation tangible for the employees. He like working with his project team and all the different profiles. He likes to develop training programs. Coming into contact with many different people. He likes the international character of his job too.”.

“What does Karel not like?” gave the same reply, because Charlie still reacted on the keyword ‘like’. Using the keyword ‘not like’ didn’t work on Botsify.

From keywords to phrases

To make the chatbot more human alike, it had to be able to understand intents. Instead of reacting on keywords, I learned Charlie to recognize phrases. To be sure the chatbot would be able to understand the user’s intent, I added multiple formulations.

Eg. “what does Karel want?”, “what is he looking for?”, “what function does he want?”, etc. 

Eg. “What does Karel want?” gave the reply “Karel would like to advise and support organizations in achieving the full benefits of the new technology through change management. He would like to lead a team working on the different components of change activities: an innovative campaign, a talent development program, etc.”

Botsify chatbot

The move from keywords to phrases made the chatbot less responsive. I learned that every user has his own way to formulate a question, some write full sentences, some write with(out) spelling errors, etc. While the chatbot was tested by more and more users, it came clear to me that the AI of Botsify was not ready for it. The slightest difference in formulation or spelling mistake, made the chatbot reply the default “sorry, I don’t understand your message…”.

Enhance user experience

When working with keywords, the intent was not recognized and some answers were not correct, but with phrase recognition a very simple look-a-like question couldn’t be answered. I saw users leaving after a few attempts. To enhance user experience, I created multiple default messages which also contained suggestions for asking the right questions. Also I created a help function and added some buttons with default questions.

If you want to give it a try, go to http://m.me/Norulesjustwords

Note: there’s a limit set at 100 users (all time), so if the chatbot is offline, we reached the limit 🙂

Move to IBM Watson Conversation

When many users use Botsify at the same time, the chatbot was also lagging and responding incorrect, for me this was the final blow. A representation of my resume that wasn’t responding to simple questions doesn’t deliver what it’s made for.

In my search for a new chatbot, I found IBM Watson. With the Watsom Conversation service I was able to create a chatbot in a very short term, and a better one too. The Watson chatbot also works with AI and is rather easy to configure. The big advantage is that Watson’s AI is working and Watson has NLP, Natural Language processing. NLP was the one solution for dealing with different formulations and spelling errors.

Eg. “what are you doing?” is interpreted in the same way as “what is your job”, “what do you do for a living”, etc.

The setup of my new Charlie was started: intents can be added quite easy and with multiple variants. Adding dialogs and testing goes quick too. The chatbot was set up in less than a day!

IBM Watson Conversation

The integration with Facebook Messenger is another story though. While the Watson chatbot is easy to configure, learns better, has AI and NLP, it’s a whole different story offering this service to end users. Linking my Botsify chatbot to Messenger was done in seconds, for Watson I’ve been busy searching for hours, still without any result.

So at the moment of writing, I have a better chatbot, but still need to figure out how to get it online. But I’m not giving up 🙂

Give the first Charlie chatbot a go

In the meanwhile, you can test my first Charlie chatbot at: http://m.me/Norulesjustwords

My full resume can be found here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/karelnijs82/


Special thanks to my friends, family and colleagues for testing Charlie! Special thanks to Bert De Sutter for his elaborate feedback!


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Change culture by changing behavior – part 3: Story telling

Change is a process. Change is a journey. Change is exploration, thinking, mistaking, learning, testing, accepting, supporting and struggling. Change is emotion having an argument with reason. You cannot change culture if you want your employees to change their behavior. It’s the other way around: you need to change behavior to change the culture of your organization.

Big change projects have the tendency to change processes, organization, structures and training to change culture. But that’s only an illusion. New studies, like “Accelerate” by John Kotter and “Viral Change” by The Chalfont Project have arguments against this tendency which are very compelling and make sense.

There are several ways to change behavior, but I would like to discuss three topics with you in separate short blog entries: role modelling, distributed networks and story telling.

Part 3 – Story telling

Story telling has been there for ages

Story telling has been there for ages

Story telling is not new to us. For thousands of years story telling was the one way experiences and lessons learned were spread. This because the majority of human population was illiterate until the last two to three hundred years, Our brains seem to learn and remember better when the information is processed in the form of stories. Many management guru’s have rediscovered this and used it to write fictional stories like “Who moved my cheese“, “Our iceberg is melting“, the Patrick Lencioni series and real life experiences like “Leading from the edge – Leadership Lessons from the Extraordinary Saga of Shackleton’s Antarctic Expedition“.

But story telling goes beyond writing and distributing books (I read of a case where the “Who Moved my cheese” book was spread to an entire organization to support the change effort). Story telling is about sharing experiences, both positive and negative experiences.

The theory of appreciative inquiry teaches us that by focusing on positive points and experiences, you can achieve better results, then when focusing on what’s going wrong. The case of OSHA mill proved a decrease in work related accidents when the power of positive story telling was unleashed. (A decrease is good situation when you’re talking about the number of accidents, of course.)

A distributed community sharing stories about positive experiences with their change efforts will have an exhilarating effect on the organization. Remember: if your need to set the organization on fire, communities are your oxygen.

But don’t write of sharing negative experiences completely. Sharing negative experiences… can be positive too. As you show you’re not invulnerable, but also human, and that you learned something from the experience.

Sharing both types of stories are signs of a mature community growing in your organization.

Additional reading

Changing the way we think about change by Leandro Herrero

Accelerate by John Kotter


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Pay it forward with appreciative inquiry

Yesterday the second theme evening of the new company strategy discussed Empowerment.
Speakers were Dr. Ronald Fry and Wim Croonen of Gemzyne Geel.

Empowerment is kind of a buzz word used for some years, so it deserved some extra attention to the “how” and “why” of it.

The main topic was appreciative inquiry, which is, in short, focusing and leveraging the good items to great, instead of only focusing on the norm and the gap between your performance. We humans tend to focus more on the negative, the gap to, then the positive and this has negative effects on the company, the culture, the employees and the results. When applying principles of appreciative inquiry Dr. Fry proved positive effects in organizations, measurable in earnings before taxes and retention rates.

Dr. Ronald Fry applied his own theory in practice by sharing success stories of organizations like the US Navy, British Airways and the OSHA mill.
The story about the OSHA mill that Ronald Fry told, was eye opening for me.
It all came back on a very simple principle: to talk about it [security in this case] in a positive way.

They applied the principle used in the movie Pay It Forward, where a child tries to improve the world with one simple rule:

If somebody does a good deed you, you have to do it for three other people.
In no time the world starts improving.

Pay It Forward

Pay It Forward

At OSHA they did the same: they raised three questions in a positive way about security:

  • What is your positive experience with security?
  • What is your dream image of security?
  • If no constraints, what are the three things you would change about security?

(not sure about the exact phrasing)

These questions spread all over the company and even before the main ideas were captured and procedures were worked out, the positive effect was already showing in the number of accidents per month.

This principle is easy to translate to spreading a new strategy.

Start with describing your positive experience with the new strategy and expected behavior, and the person that receives it, pays it forward to three other colleagues.
The positive message will spread like fire!

So, why wait?

My positive experience with empowerment is that as Lean Coaches we are engaged to get the job done. Our
performance is evaluated by results and measured by the targets we’ve set for ourselves and some with our team.

We have autonomy for finding out the how and when to do it. To evaluate our work, we ask our customers (our coachees) and team colleagues for feedback.

This is one of the things that keeps me coming back to my work every morning 🙂

Please share: What is your positive experience with empowerment?

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