Applying to jobs can often feel like a full-time job. Reading up on a company, tailoring a resume for a specific position within that organization, and writing a cover letter for just one role can take hours. By contrast, the average recruiter spends just seven seconds scanning a resume, according to one estimate.
Enter one tool that could change job applications entirely: ChatGPT, the AI-powered chatbot launched by OpenAI in November. Using a chatbot like ChatGPT (along with emerging competitors like Microsoft’s Bing AI and Google’s Bard) could give job-seekers an edge by substantially speeding up the application process. But is it the best solution?
On social media, it’s not uncommon these days to see a career influencer extol the value of ChatGPT, which they say can help you write a cover letter in two minutes, become “insanely prepared” for your next job interview, or submit 200 job applications in two days. At the very least, it can take an old resume and rewrite it fairly quickly so it’s relevant to a certain job description. Teal, a personal career growth platform, has been promoting ChatGPT for cover letters and resumes.
The new tool is great for a job-seeker, said Todd Mitchem, executive vice president of AMP Learning and Development, who advises HR professionals on using technologies like AI in their work. “They’ve got 15 different resumes that they had ChatGPT write within seconds,” he said.
If you’re concerned that using ChatGPT to write your resume feels a bit like cheating, consider that similar tools have been put to work on the recruiting side for years. Many companies use Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) to automatically scan resumes for certain keywords, ranking candidates based on the content in their CV. Now that applicants are using ChatGPT to tailor their job applications, the two systems are basically “talking to each other,” said Mitchem.
Research suggests AI can be an effective tool for job applicants. A recent study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, which hasn’t yet been peer-reviewed, found job candidates who used algorithmic writing assistance to help write their resumes had an 8% higher probability of getting hired than those who didn’t.
Still, career coaches and human resources consultants stress ChatGPT is just a tool, and there are limits to what it can do for job-seekers.
“If you want a draft of something really fast, that is a good head start, it’s really amazing at that,” said Rania Stewart, an analyst with the consulting firm Gartner who advises clients on recruiting technologies. But she cautioned that while ChatGPT will give you a decent resume, it’s liable to stretch the truth, and should be carefully edited. What’s more, she added, the privacy implications of the chatbot aren’t yet clear: Candidates should be wary of giving too much personal information to ChatGPT.
As candidates and companies alike examine the benefits—and limitations—of using AI in the hiring process, it may be worth exploring what chatbots can do for your next application. Here’s how you can experiment with ChatGPT as you apply and interview for jobs.
How to use ChatGPT to tailor your resume
The success of any conversation with ChatGPT will hinge on the prompts you provide, according to Michael Dillon, a data analyst based in Manchester, England, who has been sharing tips for using the tool on LinkedIn.
“You have to be very good at giving instructions,” said Dillon of the prompts, which essentially tell ChatGPT what to do. “The more specific you are and the more information you give it,” he added, the better it will perform.
Dillon, who recently published a guide on the subject, recommends taking a job description on LinkedIn, then prompting ChatGPT to summarize the job role by entering a prompt like, “Summarize this job role. Explain the top 5 skills and top 5 experience required.” You can even dictate the way you want ChatGPT to format the summary by entering, “use line breaks and bullet points.”
From there, you can give ChatGPT your resume and ask it to identify how your skills and experience align with those listed in the job description. You can then prompt ChatGPT to expand on these skills and experiences in bullet points that could easily be inserted into a re-tailored resume. A simple search on TikTok or LinkedIn is likely to turn up plenty of similar prompts for job-seekers who want to use ChatGPT for their resumes.
Again, be wary of allowing ChatGPT to insert errors into your resume, Dillon cautioned (currently, its data ends at 2021), or turning in a job application that reads as if it was written by a bot. Still, ChatGPT can provide you with a launching point for crafting a resume that has a good chance of catching the eye of recruiters—or the systems tracking candidates for them.
How AI chatbots can help write your cover letter
ChatGPT also lends itself well to drafting a cover letter for a job. A candidate can enter a job description and their resume, then tell ChatGPT to write a cover letter using those two pieces of information.
On Instagram Jerry Lee, co-founder of the job search service Wonsulting, shared prompts for creating a cover letter in just 45 seconds using ChatGPT. Lee has said such tips might allow applicants to apply for as many as 200 jobs in just two days.
But while applying to jobs at a breakneck pace with the help of ChatGPT may be tempting for job-seekers looking to land something quickly, Lynda Spiegel, a resume coach based in New York City, is skeptical this is the best approach. She said she typically recommends people on the hunt for a job apply to no more than three open roles each week. A “spray and pray” method, she added, can hurt a candidate strategically. If a job-seeker is focused on applying to as many jobs as possible, they might not take the time to connect with the hiring manager for a position, or find a second-degree connection who can open the door for them more quickly at the company. What’s more, it’s unclear how many recruiters read cover letters carefully, so if there’s something about your career background you want potential employers to know, you should make sure it’s included in your resume as well, Spiegel said.
As tools like ChatGPT make it quicker and easier to apply for jobs, companies could see a “sharp increase” in the volume of applications, said Stewart, of Gartner.
The likelihood your application is competing against a bigger pool of candidates makes it all the more important to submit a resume and cover letter that stands out from the rest, Dillon said. Your best bet, he added, is to use ChatGPT to jumpstart your thinking process, and get straight to writing job applications that “sound like you.”
How ChatGPT can help you prepare for an interview
Experts say ChatGPT can also be helpful in preparing for interviews. When testing out ChatGPT, Dillon asked the bot to take a job description and create 10 potential interview questions, sorted by competencies required for the role. Even if it doesn’t predict exactly what a recruiter will ask, “it gives you a lot to think about,” Dillon said.
If you prompt ChatGPT to act as a recruiter, “it’s basically gonna put you through a verbal written mock interview, and it’s very good at that,” Mitchem said.
Don’t be surprised if you start to notice companies’ approach to interviewing change in the coming years thanks to AI. HR professionals will be challenged to rethink the way they evaluate candidates with the advent of AI tools like ChatGPT, Mitchem predicted. “Where we’re headed is, how does HR and recruitment get more personalized?” he said. Recruiters will need to focus more on identifying skills that differentiate candidates, and Mitchem said he wouldn’t be surprised if more companies start asking for video resumes in the future.
Even as ChatGPT greatly speeds up the job application process, don’t discount the value of good old-fashioned networking, Spiegel and Dillon said. If you reach out to a secondhand connection at a company you’re applying for, or email a recruiter directly, these human interactions can help bypass any sort of automated tracking system where your resume might still get lost.