Cover letters are something that many candidates really struggle with. Many people are not even convinced that they are necessary. With so many job applications happening these days via websites and apps, surely that online form you filled out is all you need?
A recent survey of Cultivated culture found that while 53% of employers prefer candidates who add cover letters to their resumes, only 10% of hiring managers actually take the time to read them, further adding to candidate frustration. And if you’re looking for a job and want to send out as many applications as possible, does writing an individualized cover letter for each job really make a difference, or does it just make the much longer process of finding a new job?
Now, with the advent of AI tools like ChatGPTCreated by Open.ai and backed by $10 billion in funding from Microsoft, a new era of automation has arrived.
The question is, can you just have a robot write a tricky cover letter for you?
Use AI to write your cover letters
The British communication company Schwa decided to test the capabilities of the tool. Founder and owner Neil Taylor wanted to see how ChatGPT would fare when it came to a standard writing test, which the company sets for all potential hires.
In a blog post, Taylor revealed that he asked ChatGPT to write 300 words about the secret to good handwriting. The process was not as simple as it seems. “I had to cheat a bit,” he said.
“I could tell it wasn’t good enough. So I polished the memoir and asked him to write with the voice of one of my colleagues. This made it a bit more user-friendly, but still not great. So I asked him to write in the voice of editorial guru Dave Trott. The result was nothing like Dave’s, but it was more impactful.
Taylor submitted three ChatGPT writing samples into the pool, and one was retained. In fact, he came in the top 20% of all shortlisted candidates. That’s not a bad result, so when it comes to something even less complicated, like a fairly standard cover letter, should you use ChatGPT?
We tested the tool to see how it would perform when writing a cover letter for a software engineering job. Here is the result :
Dear Recruitment Manager,
I am writing to express my interest in the Software Engineer position at your company. With a passion for programming and a solid background in software development, I believe I would be a valuable addition to your team.
I have a bachelor’s degree in computer science and over three years of work experience in the industry. During my time at XYZ Corporation, I developed a wide range of software applications, from desktop to mobile applications, and honed my skills in multiple programming languages including Java, Python, and C++. In addition, I have experience in databases, software architecture and Agile methodologies, which allows me to master all aspects of software development.
In my most recent role, I was part of a team that developed a complex web-based system for a client. I was responsible for designing and implementing server-side logic, ensuring its scalability and performance. Thanks to this project, I demonstrated my ability to work effectively in a team and my dedication to delivering quality work on time.
I am delighted to have the opportunity to bring my skills and experience to your company and contribute to the development of innovative software solutions. I’m particularly drawn to your company’s commitment to creating products that positively impact people’s lives, and I think my passion for technology and problem solving would be a perfect fit for your team.
Thank you for considering my request. I am keen to discuss my qualifications further and am available for an interview at your convenience.
Even a cursory analysis of ChatGPT’s efforts shows that the AI has nailed the format – something that can be very difficult to do well. The language flows, it is a readable and coherent copy.
But because he knows nothing about the individual who wants to use this letter, all details provided are generic. Careful editing is required to add details of your education and work, as well as your skills and results.
Where ChatGPT can really help a job candidate is around the structure of creating a cover letter offering a very usable framework or template to add and customize. It’s a great starting point.
However, as Taylor discovered, “AIs are brilliant for being average.” This extra level of human interaction is absolutely necessary to send a ChatGPT generated cover letter to a place where it is ready to be sent. Taylor agrees: “If you’re writing something that really needs to stand out, like a job application […] it’s not going to cut the mustard.
There is no doubt that this new tool is immensely popular. It took Instagram and Spotify about 10 weeks and five months respectively to reach one million users, according to a report by CB Insights. ChatGPT hit one million users just five days after its launch in late November 2022. By January this year, it had reached 100 million monthly active users. In contrast, it took TikTok nine months to reach the same numbers.
This acceleration in widespread adoption has had a positive impact. Employers predict that productivity will increase by 74%. And the output of ChatGPT will only improve with usage, as the AI learns more about what users are looking for. This means that the tool will only get better at creating cover letters that meet recruiters’ expectations.
Accelerate your career in 2023 by looking for your dream job on the House of Talents job board