AI apps like ChatGPT may finally kill the cover letter

Grace wanted a better-paying job closer to where she lived, but was afraid to write another cover letter. was needed, but she felt that the cover letter didn’t do it justice.

“It’s technical writing,” says Grace. “It’s not mean to say, ‘I want you to hire me because I’m great,’ but my weakness is that I’m so great.”

Instead, she took a friend’s advice and used ChatGPT, a text-generating AI software that has exploded in popularity in recent months. Asking her to leave out her last name so as not to jeopardize her employment, Grace gave the AI ​​a job description and some qualifications she wanted to highlight.ChatGPT said she could easily An edited “proper” cover spat out her letter.

She did get the job in the end, but she doesn’t think it was because of the cover letter. “I think they just saw my resume,” she said.

Grace has more and more Job Seekers Turning to AI To complete one of the most difficult and arguably unnecessary steps in the hiring process.recent online investigation According to recruitment service site Resume Builder, nearly half of current and recent job seekers use ChatGPT to write their resumes or cover letters. LinkedIn, tick tockand mass media There is a lot of information on the best ways to get decent cover letters from software.

Using technology like ChatGPT to apply for jobs raises some thorny ethical questions, such as whether you’re misrepresenting yourself to a potential employer. However, job seekers see it as a necessary step to succeed in a job search process that is riddled with inefficiencies and unfairness. The hiring process is generally longer and longerand the enterprise itself use software to screen employees — A process that feels like a black box. Consumer AI software can make job seekers feel like they’re fighting bots against bots.

I also ask people if cover letters are important these days, and if there are better ways to design the application process so that job seekers don’t have to rely on AI to write them in the first place. I am letting you.

Are cover letters important?

While the main point of a cover letter is to explain why your experience is a good fit for the position, it’s also information recruiters can glean from resumes and phone calls. Now that AI can produce pretty decent cover letters with just the right prompts and a bit of editing, writing a cover letter by hand feels more pointless than ever.

I wrote a very basic prompt for ChatGPT and sent back a terrible cover letter.

It’s unclear to what extent employers are asking for cover letters these days. Alex Alonso, chief of the Society for Human Resource Management and his knowledge officer, says “most” professions still want his cover letter. Recruiters we spoke to fixed that percentage at close to 10 or 20 percent. According to data from Indeed, which hosts job postings for job listings that traditionally require a cover letter and those that don’t, only 2% mentioned a cover letter.

What we do know is that many recruiters Didn’t actually read the cover letterAccording to Alonso, the time between a recruiter reviewing an applicant’s eligibility and deciding whether or not he or she is ineligible takes very little time — just a few minutes at most.

A cover letter can be a place for applicants to explain why they are a good fit for a role that they are not qualified for, or explain job gaps or career changes, but such details are not much to reach. Temporal. Rather, most recruiters (two-thirds and his estimate) are simply checking whether the requested cover his letter contains rather than judging your knowledge of prose .

“Most employers don’t put a lot of information into what they put in a cover letter other than to show that the person understands that a cover letter is required,” Alonso said. increase. “In TikTok terms, yes, they understood the challenge.”

Recruiters want to know if applicants are good at making persuasive arguments and connecting their skills to job descriptions. For example, James Shea, a freelance writer who consulted a client about using ChatGPT, believes that the formulaic structure and boastful nature of his cover letter is not a good way to demonstrate his writing ability. increase.

“It’s a terrible form of communication,” Shay said. “I have a writing portfolio that shows what I can write. Do I have to write a formal and esoteric cover letter?

Shea recently used ChatGPT as a starting point for writing her cover letter. He says he uses a generative AI application as an editor of sorts, and when he sees a suggestion from ChatGPT’s output that he thinks is good, he takes it little by little and tweaks it to make it better. .

Applicants aren’t the only ones who don’t care about cover letters. It’s also clear that employers themselves are devaluing them less and less.

Requests for cover letters have been on the decline for some time, experts say. But whether the job explicitly calls for cover letters or whether someone actually reads them, many job seekers still fear skipping them.

“I think cover letters have been pretty useless for a long time,” said Ata Tarki, co-founder of a recruitment agency. talent compass author with Evidence-based adoptionStill, if an employer asks for a cover letter, he’ll include a very short one.

Perceptions of the need for cover letters also vary by industry. Senior Technical His recruiter Tejal Wagadia says it’s rare for tech companies to ask for a cover letter these days. She also urges people to consider writing samples and portfolios instead of asking recruiters.

“I make sure candidates and job seekers don’t do extra work if they don’t have to,” Wagadia said.

Still, she gets cover letters from time to time and reads them.

What are the alternatives?

Job seekers are in the odd position of having to write a cover letter that is unlikely to be read, but can be important. So why not make the process a little easier?

The experts we spoke with said it’s probably okay to use ChatGPT to get an overall structure or to get an idea, but personalizing and editing your cover letter is key. said. A good rule of thumb is to give the AI ​​job descriptions and resumes, telling it which skills and tone to emphasize.

You do not have to disclose that you wrote your cover letter with the help of ChatGPT. After all, people have been using templates and writing services to write cover letters for years. Please edit it enough so that it does not happen. Alonso of the Society for Human Resource Management believes that disclosing the use of AI can actually be beneficial. This is to show potential employers that you are efficient and resourceful.

And if you can avoid cover letters, or at least outsource some of the work to ChatGPT, you’ll be a much better use of your time when it comes to actually getting the job done. , says the most important document to submit is a resume. So make sure your resume is up-to-date, well-written, and includes a short summary that does some of the heavy lifting required of a cover letter. Good for certain jobs.

“Your resume should say everything you need to know to make sure you’re a good fit for the job,” says Wagadia. “My first question as a recruiter is, is this candidate a good fit for the role they applied for and the role I am applying for? not. ”

Tarki says it’s much more effective to send a short email or LinkedIn message (2 paragraphs) to the employer, explaining why you’re interested in the job and other helpful information. Building a network and using common connections to make referrals and endorsements is also a plus.

Austin Bercak, Founder of Job Coaching Site cultivated culture and creator video Educate people on how to use ChatGPT to write cover letters, and encourage them to spend the time they save on cover letters to research and network with the company on how they can add value. He says you’re much more likely to get an interview if you can get referrals from people who work for the company, rather than simply applying online. He also suggests creating a pitch his deck that shows, rather than telling, why he’s a good fit for the role.

There are obviously plenty of good alternatives to the dreaded cover letter.

Cigdem Polat Dautov became a software engineer to make people’s lives easier by eliminating redundant and repetitive tasks. Now, when she’s looking for her job, it turns out that she uses ChatGPT to write her cover letter just like she uses any other technology. She enjoys tinkering with software to see what she can get and editing out its shortcomings.

“At the end of the day, it’s a tool,” she said.

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