Everyone is talking about generative AI tools and how they can make our lives easier. OpenAI’s ChatGPT is the most advanced AI chatbot ever to be released to a mass audience, and it’s trained to understand text the way humans do. Over 100 million people are using it today for everything from writing online dating profiles to creating marketing content to transcribing Zoom meetings. ChatGPT is even helping some workers take on multiple full-time jobs because they say it reduces their workload.
So, it would seem to make sense that AI could easily write a cover letter and resume. But that’s where generative AI gets a bit more complicated.
As one of just 28 Master Resume Writers in the world, I’ve worked with executives from all over the world for the past 20 years. I’ve written thousands of resumes and LinkedIn profiles, and even with the recent talk of robots taking our jobs in the future, I’m not overly concerned. That’s because I know that a good leader’s resume and cover letter need a personal, human touch.
Why Hire a Resume Writer?
Before we get into the pros and cons of ChatGPT, let’s review why you might hire a resume writer in the first place rather than creating or updating your resume, cover letter and LinkedIn profile on your own.
At JMA, we start with a very detailed questionnaire our clients fill out. That’s because even at the executive level, most people have no idea what their brand really is. The questionnaire and discovery process helps identify your leadership characteristics and the scope of your leadership. It’s intended to make you pause and consider what your target is and your achievements that reflect that target. In my experience, leaders don’t often stop to reflect upon their achievements because they are already working on the next initiative. So, a little digging may be needed… through emails, presentations, performance evaluations. Once you stop to actually think about it, those quantifiable facts will reveal themselves.
It’s my job to take the client’s story and convey a branded statement with full qualifications table and career highlights for that individual. A resume writer knows how to condense a lot of information down to digestible and memorable snippets. A recruiter or hiring manager will have a solid snapshot of the leader within the first 10-15 seconds of reading the resume.
I spend anywhere from ten to twelve hours on each resume, which includes everything from the initial discovery call to making sure the client’s LinkedIn profile is optimized for their target position so that recruiters and hiring managers can find them easily online.
Testing Out ChatGPT
Just like I’m sure most of you have, I’ve experimented with ChatGPT to see what it’s capable of. As a basic tool, it makes a lot of assumptions and inaccuracies, even what’s called “hallucinations” when it simply makes up false information. You must be very specific with the prompts to get information that you can utilize. And even when you get accurate information, it’s often very long and wordy.
In my experience, a cover letter should be brief. Recruiters and hiring managers don’t want to spend a lot of time reading them. I recommend an introductory paragraph, three to four bullet points as to how you are qualified for the position, and a closing paragraph.
The cover letters created by AI are way too wordy and really say nothing at all. AI tends to regurgitate the same thoughts in many ways, so while there may be some different phrases or word choices than you would normally use, using AI to write your cover letter is not necessarily a beneficial tactic.
It’s also extremely easy to tell if AI has created a resume simply due to the structure. The ones I’ve tested present an objective statement, but these are no longer used. If you prompt it to come up with an executive summary, what you get will be very generic. It won’t contain any of your individual leadership characteristics, and it’s very different than how a human would structure it.
I think eventually we will see so much repetition that it will be incredibly easy to identify a resume and cover letter that has been created by AI. The Harvard Business Review reports people are already developing an ear for content that “sounds like ChatGPT.”
Another primary concern I have about using AI for resume writing, especially at the executive level, is confidentiality. I can’t tell you how many executives I’ve worked with who are bound to tight, non-compete agreements for multiple years. When this is the case, it would be almost impossible to use AI to develop your documents. That’s because if you were to use an AI prompt, you would have to fictionalize it.
There are pieces of information – such as budgets, private company revenue, sales of private organizations, etc. – that we need to be careful with distributing on a resume due to confidentiality. I personally utilize percentages instead of dollar amounts and get creative with other ways to convey quantifiable facts and data, but an AI system wouldn’t be able to treat sensitive information with the same amount of care as a human.
What about ATS?
Resume writers consider Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) heavily when crafting documents. That’s because according to recent data, over 98% of Fortune 500 companies use ATS, while 66% of large companies and 35% of small organizations rely on them. Resume writers know the nuances of navigating these systems to convey accurate information in their clients’ voice while still meeting the systems’ criteria.
ATS use keyword optimization so one could load into the AI prompt the title of the position and ask it to list the top ten keywords for that title. That could be helpful as long as you are looking at the individual job posting and customizing the resume for each submission.
Keywords will continue to be critical, but so will AI’s algorithms to focus on patterns. For instance, recruiters may be able to use AI to look at candidate education and experience as well as their progression through their career in relation to their ideal candidate or even individuals who have served in that role and were successful. That could make it harder for career changers to be considered.
So, How Can You Use ChatGPT?
Despite some of these drawbacks, jobseekers are turning to the viral chatbot for help in writing cover letters, tweaking resumes and even drafting responses to interview questions. A ResumeBuilder.com recent survey revealed out of more than 1,000 jobseekers, nearly half (46%) reported using ChatGPT to write their resume or cover letter.
I do believe that ChatGPT can be useful to gather information that can be used to spark ideas that can be included on resumes. For example, you could put in a prompt that asks, “What are ten examples of achievements for an SVP of Operations in the finance industry?” ChatGPT will give you a listing of those achievements. That’s helpful. What’s not helpful is if the client just takes that list and dumps it into a resume, without being able to speak to the points in the interview process. This can be a slippery slope for clients who aren’t willing to do their due diligence and identify those quantifiable facts and true achievements that they should convey on their resume.
A resume writer will make sure that your information is unique yet accurate, and you can be sure it will not be regurgitated among multiple people’s resumes.
The Future of Resumes
For years and years, people have been saying that the resume will no longer be relevant. I think that ChatGPT could make this true in the future. With the repetition being presented by AI, it will be a real challenge for resumes to remain relevant. That’s why leaders need to be conscious of making sure their material is unique. It should be obvious that it is human generated and clearly focused on leadership.
The LinkedIn profile and even someone’s total online presence will no doubt become more important as AI gathers information from anything public online. And since Microsoft owns LinkedIn and Microsoft has made a huge investment in AI, it will be interesting to see what happens in the next few years.
I belong to the National Resume Writers Association and they as well as other industry organizations feel that since AI isn’t going anywhere, it’s time to lean into it. It’s our job to help guide clients through the process and emphasize the importance of having correct information on all documents. You must also be able to speak to this information clearly during the interview process.
I’ve had clients use ChatGPT to create their resume and ask me to just “touch it up”. That’s a challenge to do because bad information in equals bad information out. In these cases, I find the client doesn’t want to put in the necessary hard work to fill out the initial questionnaire properly. I haven’t had anyone admit to using ChatGPT to fill out the actual questionnaire yet, but I’m waiting for it!
While AI technology is making leaps and bounds in so many ways, it’s still best practice to have a resume writer collaborate with you on your cover letter, resume and LinkedIn profile to make sure you are optimizing your career opportunities.