If it’s been a few years since you last had to search for a job, you may be in for a bit of a shock. The job search landscape has changed considerably in recent years, and so have the techniques for landing that perfect job. Assuming it actually exists.
The process of applying for a specific job and tailoring a resume to a particular job description can be a challenging task. When I’m on a job search, I (try to remember to) use best practices like editing my bulleted list of skills so they more closely align with what the hiring manager is asking for.
And then there’s the task of writing a cover letter. Ho boy. Even as a copywriter, it’s something I struggle with, to be honest. I’ve never been much for self-promotion, so it doesn’t come naturally. At all.
But with ChatGPT, there’s now a way to save time and produce high-quality cover letters with just a few simple tricks. Does using artificial intelligence guarantee you’ll get the job? Of course not. But it’ll give you a better chance at standing out from other job applicants and landing that dream job. Let’s dive in.
How to use ChatGPT to Create a Cover Letter (and Why)
First, a note on the modern job search and why it’s wise to use ChatGPT to write a cover letter.
Many jobs and job descriptions weren’t written by a human. And many resumes and cover letters aren’t initially read by a human. Here’s why it’s a problem.
When writing persuasive copy, I assume a person will read it. My copy is designed to address the specific pain points that the product I’m promoting is supposed to address.
You would think this would naturally apply to writing cover letters. It doesn’t.
Because you know who (or what) isn’t human? Many companies employ applicant tracking systems (ATS), especially if they advertise on job boards.
When you see a job posting on Linkedin that shows hundreds or thousands of applicants, do you really think someone is actually reading any of those resumes or cover letters? Of course not.
What’s an Applicant Tracking System?
Applicant Tracking Systems are software programs designed to scan your resume and cover letter for critical skills and titles that fit their ATS-generated job description. It’s intended to be a first line of defense for hiring managers to weed out unqualified applicants.
If you don’t make it past the ATS, your resume and cover letter will never be read by a human at that company.
How many companies use ATS? Most. Statistics vary, but the bigger the company, the more likely it will use ATS. 99% of Fortune 500 companies, 75% of recruiters, and even 35% of small businesses use them.
So, your first task as a job seeker isn’t just to stand out from other applicants and job seekers. Your first task is to get past the applicant tracking system.
If you’ve worked in the human resources department of a large company, you’re way ahead of the game.
The rest of us need some help.
Artificial intelligence (AI) has been a game-changer in various facets of our lives, from digital marketing to content creation and, yes, even job applications. ChatGPT, a large language model from OpenAI, has changed the narrative of how we write.
While ChatGPT isn’t the right tool for every job — persuasive, original, and creative copy isn’t its strong suit — it’s the perfect tool for writing compelling cover letters.
This blog post will explore how you can use ChatGPT to write an outstanding cover letter for your job application, proving that AI is your companion, not competition, in some scenarios.
What is ChatGPT?
ChatGPT is a sophisticated language model developed by OpenAI. Using the robust GPT-4 architecture, this AI tool generates text that sounds incredibly human. It’s a simple sentence generator and a creative, interactive tool capable of understanding context, asking questions, and iterating upon its responses.
The Role of ChatGPT in Cover Letter Creation
A compelling cover letter can catch the “eye” of any “hiring manager” (read: ATS). Using ChatGPT for cover letter creation helps ensure your letter is compelling, creative, professional, and optimized for ATS.
The role of ChatGPT in this process can be varied. One way is that ChatGPT can provide suggestions, guidance, and improvements to your text, aiding in structuring your letter, providing content suggestions, and fine-tuning grammar and syntax.
Another way, which we’ll be trying out, is to write a cover letter with just a few easy prompts. Here are some tricks you need to know to get the most out of your ChatGPT cover letter (and ChatGPT in general).
Providing a Role for ChatGPT
What other articles on using ChatGPT tend to get wrong is the best way to prompt the tool. If you just ask it a generic question or give it a vague prompt, you’ll get a pretty generic response. Not good when you’re trying to write an effective cover letter and get ahead of other job seekers.
For best results when using ChatGPT, you must give it a specific role to accomplish your task.
For cover letter creation, you might define its role as a ‘Professional Resume Coach’ to guide you in writing a cover letter that is both formal and compelling. Defining roles guides the AI’s responses, ensuring they align with your objective.
Contextual Understanding and Prompting ChatGPT
ChatGPT’s contextual understanding is vital to its impressive performance. When writing a cover letter, you must provide the model with the necessary information, such as the job you’re applying for, your skills, experiences, and why you’re a good fit for the position—the more specific and accurate the context, the better the output.
The context, in this case, can be the entire job posting.
Prompting is crucial for directing the model to provide valuable responses. It’s where the AI magic happens and goes hand-in-hand with the context section above.
Not sure where to start or what context to provide?
Prompt ChatGPT to ask you questions.
That’s right. Don’t assume you know what information your ChatGPT resume coach needs to write the perfect cover letter.
Tell it to ask you about the information it needs, provide the information it asks for, and it will generate its response based on that information. (We’ll tie this together with an example in just a minute.)
The Power of Iteration
No first draft is perfect. The same applies to AI-generated cover letters. ChatGPT will produce an initial output based on your prompts, but reviewing and iterating on this output is essential. You might need to adjust your prompts or request the AI to rephrase, elaborate, or condense sections for clarity, precision, and relevance.
Making the Most of ChatGPT
To fully harness the power of ChatGPT in writing a cover letter, follow these steps:
- Define the role of ChatGPT: As a ‘Professional Resume Coach.’
- Provide the Context: The job you’re applying for, the company, your qualifications, experiences, and why you’re a good fit. This is where you can prompt ChatGPT to ask you what information it needs to write a personalized cover letter.
- Prompt the AI: Ask the model to generate specific sections of your cover letter.
- Review and Iterate: Refine the output until you’re satisfied with the results.
Putting it all together
Here is the prompt I gave ChatGPT to start with:
“You are an expert resume coach. Please help me create a personalized cover letter for a copywriting position with [company name]. What information do you need from me to complete this task?”
I tried this prompt template on two days and received two slightly different responses from ChatGPT. Here was the first response:
“Sure, I would be happy to help you with your cover letter for the copywriting position at [company]. To make your cover letter as effective and personalized as possible, I’ll need the following information from you:
- Your Full Name and Contact Details: This includes your email and phone number.
- Your Professional Background: Provide a summary of your career, including roles, responsibilities, key accomplishments, and specific skills that would be relevant to the job you’re applying for.
- Specific Examples of Your Work: Details about projects where you used your skills and the impact they had on the companies you worked for.
- Your Education and Training: Your degree and any specialized training that would make you stand out for the role.
- Why You’re Interested in [company name]: This will help to show your enthusiasm for the company and the position. Research about the company and the job would be useful here.
- Why You’re a Good Fit: Here’s where you can link your skills, experience, and interests to the specific job description and company.
- Any Relevant Soft Skills: These can include communication, creativity, teamwork, and problem-solving.
Remember, a cover letter should not only show that you have the background and skills the job requires but also that you’re deeply interested in the company and would fit well within its culture. With this information, I can help create a cover letter that achieves that balance.”ChatGPT May 24 Version
And here was the second response:
“To assist you in writing a targeted and effective cover letter, I will need the following information:
- Your Name: The name that should be included at the end of the cover letter.
- Job Description: A detailed description of the job you’re applying for. This should include the company’s details, role summary, responsibilities, qualifications, and any specific skills or experiences they’re looking for.
- Your Experience: A summary of your professional background and skills that match the requirements of the job description. Specifically, key achievements, specific projects, or skills that directly relate to the job description.
- Your Education: Your level of education and field of study.
- Your Skills: A list of your professional skills that match the job requirements.
- Why You’re Interested in the Role: Reasons why you’re interested in the job and the company. This could include what you know about the company’s values, culture, or mission, and why these align with your own career goals or personal values.
- Contact Information: How the employer can reach you for further discussion or interview scheduling.
With this information, I’ll be able to write a personalized cover letter that showcases your qualifications and interest in the role.”ChatGPT May 24 Version
I used the first response to create my cover letter. I provided the information it asked for, including an overview of the job description and my professional background. (I left out my personal information since ChatGPT will collect any inputs you give and use it for training purposes.) I also added that I wanted the cover letter to be optimized for ATS. Here was the first draft I got in response:
“That’s great! Thank you for providing such detailed information. With this, we can write a targeted cover letter for the copywriting position at [company]. Here’s a first draft:
Dear Hiring Manager,
I am writing to express my interest in the copywriting position at [company]. With my extensive background in B2B and B2C marketing copywriting, technical writing, and my passion for automobiles, I am confident that I would make a significant contribution to your team.
In my previous role at [company], I produced weekly blog posts covering artificial intelligence in the email marketing space. This involved technical support documentation, emails, landing pages, and case studies, all aimed at a varied audience. My work consistently surpassed the company’s established benchmarks for successful communication, evidence of my ability to create compelling, results-driven content.
At [company] in Seattle and [company] in Menlo Park, CA, I continued to refine my technical copywriting skills, creating engaging and accessible content for landing pages, emails, and technical articles. This experience, combined with my time as an Auction Specialist at Bring-a-Trailer, and as a Senior Technical Advisor at Apple, equips me with a unique blend of skills perfectly tailored to the position at [company].
Beyond my technical expertise, my Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy has fostered critical thinking, logical reasoning, and a profound understanding of human behavior – essential tools for a successful copywriter. Moreover, my certification in email marketing copywriting from American Writers and Artists, Inc, coupled with the hardware and software certification from Apple, further underscore my commitment to continuous learning and excellence.
The prospect of joining [company name] particularly excites me as I see electric vehicles as the future of transportation. As an avid car enthusiast, I can’t wait to help usher in this new era, combining my professional expertise with my passion to support your mission.
In terms of soft skills, my experience at [company name] and Apple has honed my ability to bridge the gap between highly technical information and everyday language. For over 11 years, I have effectively translated ‘geek-speak’ into comprehensible information for customers, showcasing my capacity to connect with a wide array of audiences.
In closing, I believe my blend of marketing copywriting, technical writing, customer service experience, and automotive enthusiasm makes me an ideal candidate for the copywriting position at [company name]. I am eager to bring my skills, experience, and dedication to your team and contribute to your mission of revolutionizing transportation.
Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the possibility of discussing my candidacy further.
Please review this draft and let me know if there are any areas you’d like me to revise or expand on. Also, note that this cover letter is optimized to pass through Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) with relevant keywords integrated throughout the text.”ChatGPT May 24 Version
As a first draft, it’s pretty good. There were a few details it didn’t quite present properly, but overall, a quality cover letter. (Although Grammarly went a little crazy with its edits.)
In the next iteration, I asked it to add some details that I thought were relevant skills that hiring managers and their software would look for in a qualified candidate. I had to fine-tune it and add a personal touch, but ChatGPT did most of the heavy lifting to create the final cover letter.
Other Uses for ChatGPT in Your Job Search
You can also prompt ChatGPT to write or rewrite specific sections of your cover letters. For instance, if you wanted it to rewrite your opening paragraph or closing statement, it can certainly do that for you.
A word of caution which should go without saying, but I’m going to say it anyway. It’s one thing to submit AI-generated cover letters that accurately reflect your technical skills and relevant information. It’s quite another to make up a role or job title you never had.
Be sure that the cover letter accurately presents your unique skills to potential employers and not a cover letter based on a bunch of made-up jobs.
Do you really want to be sitting in a job interview trying to answer questions about positions you’ve never held? Maybe you do. I do not.
Job searches are time-consuming. If you’re a job seeker looking to quickly generate an impressive cover letter based on specific job descriptions, a ChatGPT cover letter might be a solution. ChatGPT can be an excellent tool for writing cover letters optimized for applicant tracking systems as long as you can add some basic information and are good at following prompts. A ChatGPT-generated cover letter might be the boost you need to find that perfect company culture and level up your career.
Using ChatGPT, you can harness the power of artificial intelligence to create or enhance your cover letter, making your application process more efficient and effective. It’s about embracing AI as a tool, not a replacement, in everyday tasks. With a clear role, context, thoughtful prompts, asking questions when needed, and iterations, you can make AI work for you in the job application process. The future of work is here, and it’s AI-assisted.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can ChatGPT write a cover letter entirely on its own?
While ChatGPT is a powerful tool, it requires your input to generate a cover letter. You’ll need to provide it with specific context and prompts to produce a well-crafted and tailored letter.
How do I prompt ChatGPT to ask questions?
Asking questions in your prompts can guide the AI to provide more detailed responses. For instance, instead of saying, “I have experience in project management,” you could ask, “How can I illustrate my project management skills for a project manager position?”
How many iterations are typically required?
The number of iterations depends on the quality of your prompts and the specificity of your context. Some sections might require only one or two revisions, while others may need more. The key is to continue refining until you’re satisfied with the final output.