Texas A&M professors receive NSF grant on job recruitment of STEM graduates

Three Texas A&M University professors are collaborating on a project that centers on what job recruiters are looking for in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduates.

Dr. Gerianne Alexander, professor and Cornerstone Fellow in the Department of Psychology, Dr. Tracy Hammond, professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering and director of the Sketch Recognition Lab, and Dr. Joanna Lahey, associate professor in the Bush School of Government and Public Service, have been awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to study how recruiters view resumes of recent computer science graduates.

This research aims to provide insight into what features are important in a resume by correlating recruiter ratings of resumes of hypothetical graduates with eye tracking technology that tracks where recruiters are looking when they view entry-level computer science and engineering resumes.

Though each has studied this subject individually, this will be their first collaborative project, bringing together a strong set of collective expertise. Lahey has used eye tracking technology to study how human resource managers view entry-level administrative assistant resumes. Alexander has primarily used eye tracking to study human social behavior. Hammond has used eye tracking in her human-computer interaction and artificial intelligence research in medicine, education and cybersecurity to determine what users are doing, what they intend to do, how they perceive the world and who they are.

Hiring graduates from STEM fields is important for the well-being of the economy. Being able to pinpoint what employers want from recent graduates and how they view resumes can help inform computer science programs and researchers about the skillsets that today’s employers find important, in turn impacting education research.

Graduate students Vijay Rajanna and Adil Hamid Malla are trying to understand and analyze the predictive behavior of recruiters based on the eye-movement data while they look at resumes of STEM students. In addition, they are analyzing common questions, such as the value of course projects over grade point average, the desirability of a candidate with an internship versus without, etc.

“We are excited to apply our methods to learn about how we can better advise the university and the department’s students on their resumes so they can continue obtain top positions right out of school,” Hammond said.