IN THIS ARTICLE
- 1. Improve your cover letter
- 2. Optimize your LinkedIn profile and resume
- 3. Use it to write introductory, follow-up, and thank-you emails
- 4. Improve your portfolio website
- 5. Automate your job applications
- 6. Get help with take-home assignments
- 7. Practice interview questions
- AI tools are here to stay, and there’s no shame in using them
Get expert insights straight to your inbox.
Job seekers and hiring managers know the recruitment process is broken—and AI has a significant stake in it. Corporate job openings attract an average of 250 applications, forcing companies to use technology to shortlist resumes. According to Jobscan, 99% of Fortune 500 employers use an applicant tracking system—AI-powered software that parses hundreds of resumes into binary “yes” and “no” piles based on keywords, years of experience, education background, and other specifications. These black-box algorithms wield immense power to decide a person’s career prospects—and, by extension, their socioeconomic future—but no one knows how they work.
Until recently, candidates could only guess what magic combination of keywords and acceptable resume formats would pass ATS scrutiny and toss their application to a human hiring manager—who spends no more than seven seconds on each resume.
Now, job-seekers have AI-powered tools at their disposal to remove some of the mystique—and frustration—from the job hunt. From AI-powered resume builders to keyword scanners and application tracking tools, candidates are increasingly empowered to use technology in what is often an exhausting, psychologically and financially taxing process: finding a job.
“Being able to prompt a large language model is a skill,” says Muhammad Motawe, VP of engineering at The Quantum Insider and a mentor for Springboard’s Software Engineering Bootcamp. “If you don’t understand something, you can use ChatGPT or any other language model to simplify and distill the knowledge for you. I think that’s a legitimate use case.”
ChatGPT, a large language model by Microsoft-backed AI research firm OpenAI, is incredibly proficient at generating everything from initial outreach emails to personalized cover letters. Already, hiring managers are trying—and mostly failing—to sniff out job applications that seem a little too good to be true.
A recent survey by Fishbowl found that 43% of professionals use ChatGPT at work; nearly 70% are hiding it from their bosses. Maria Tomaino, a career coach at Springboard, encourages job seekers to use every available tool in their job search—including ChatGPT. However, she has an important caveat.
“There has to be some internal reflection,” she says. “Don’t present the work of a robot as your own without putting personalization, effort, passion, and creativity into it. If you don’t put effort into the job application, what type of worker will you be?”
Here are seven proven ways to use AI to turbocharge your job search.
1. Improve your cover letter
While recruiters remain divided over the usefulness of a cover letter, a thoughtfully written note can boost your candidacy if you’re switching careers or have resume gaps. Generative AI tools like ChatGPT can generate the bones of a good cover letter. Alternatively, you can use a dedicated AI cover letter generator like Coverdoc.ai. Simply enter basic info about the job you’re applying to (title, company name, and job description), select a preferred writing style, and add a link to your LinkedIn profile. The tool automatically incorporates insights about the target company’s products and the wider industry, allowing candidates to personalize their cover letter with insightful observations.
Unlike large language models like ChatGPT trained on generalized datasets, the machine learning algorithms powering resume builders were trained on high-performing cover letters.
Resume builder Teal recently launched an integration with ChatGPT to enhance its natural language capabilities.
Regardless of your chosen AI tool, you’ll need to know best practices for writing prompts that generate the responses you’re looking for. When using ChatGPT, copy-paste a simplified version of your resume into the text field.
For the prompt, type: “Write my cover letter for the data science role at LinkedIn in a conversational tone, using my resume below as a reference.” Generate two more versions. Sort through the options, pull what you like from each generated version, and add personal flair.
Tips for getting the best responses from AI tools:
- Introduce yourself to the AI to give it context. Pretend you are introducing yourself at a job interview. Context regarding your background and prior achievements will generate a more personalized response.
- Provide information on your education and work experience. Share a simplified version of your resume or recount your most significant achievements. (Eg: “I hold a bachelor’s degree in economics and recently completed a software engineering bootcamp. I have transferable time management and communication skills from 10 years of experience as a public school teacher. Write a cover letter that describes my strengths as a career switcher.”)
- Share the job description. Paste the job description into the text field. Remove any unnecessary information or odd formatting to avoid confusing the AI. Ask ChatGPT to write a cover letter based on the submitted job description and your qualifications.
- Reprompt it if you don’t get what you’re looking for. You can ask ChatGPT to write several cover letter versions to emphasize different skills or experiences.
- Weed out any hallucinations. AI tends to embellish or make up facts—a phenomenon known as “hallucination”—and may mention qualifications you don’t have. Always proofread and review before submitting it as a cover letter. Add details the AI missed or emphasize areas you want the employer to notice.
- Personalize it. Infuse the cover letter with personal details. Tailor the opening paragraph by mentioning something you like about the company or an employee you know. Personalize the closing statement by recapping your skills and the value you’ll bring to the team. “It’s really important for candidates not to lose their identity, self-expression, and creativity even as they use ChatGPT for content creation,” says Tomaino.
2. Optimize your LinkedIn profile and resume
Writing an AI-generated resume requires a similar approach. Include as much detail as possible about your qualifications, target role, work experience, and top skills. Detail your achievements, including metrics or examples of successful projects, hackathons, or campaigns. “Make sure to add numbers—percentages, ranges, scopes, findings, and results,” says Tomaino. “ChatGPT doesn’t know you’ve planned over 100 events or how much money you brought into your prior company unless you tell it.”
If you’re unsure where to start, ask ChatGPT what information it needs to write a resume. For example: “I have two years of experience as a data analyst at a tech startup and want to work at a FAANG as a data scientist. Please let me know what information you need to write a resume for me.”
Alternatively, try an AI resume writer like Kickresume, Skillroads, or Rezi. Certain platforms only require a job title; the AI will generate bullet points for role descriptions. Most resume builders are powered by GPT-3—or, in Kickresume’s case, GPT-4. Once you’re satisfied with the body copy, choose from different design templates, colors, and fonts.
Out of more than 1,000 current and recent jobseekers polled in a ResumeBuilder.com survey last month, nearly half (46%) reported using ChatGPT to write their resume or cover letter.
Of those candidates, 70% said they saw a higher response rate on their applications when they submitted an AI-generated resume than a non-AI resume, and 59% were hired.
Unfortunately, ChatGPT cannot access external websites as an AI language model, so you can’t simply provide a link to your LinkedIn profile.
Tomaino recommends a browser plugin called Jobalytics, which scores resumes according to how closely they match keywords in the job description. “I tell students all the time: you must beat the bots to get to a recruiter,” she says. “This tool tells you what keywords are missing so you can add them to your resume and increase your chances of passing the company’s internal ATS.”
Instead of asking ChatGPT to write an entire resume, go by section. For example, ask it to write a professional summary or role description. Remember that ChatGPT often fabricates details (eg: mentioning a degree you don’t have), so be sure to proofread everything. Finally, optimization tools like Jobscan analyze the likelihood your resume will be approved by an ATS algorithm and make it into the “interview please” pile.
- “Write resume bullet points for [insert job title here] and include metric-based achievements.”
- “I am going to send you a job description. What are the keywords for [insert job title here] at [insert company name here]?”
Careerflow.ai is a job search AI copilot that lets you automate job tracking, optimize your LinkedIn profile using a Chrome browser plugin, write AI-generated cover letters, practice mock interviews, and more. It scores your LinkedIn profile according to discoverability, aiming for a score of 80 or above. Under each section, you’ll find expert-backed suggestions, a checklist, and an easy-to-follow guide on optimizing your profile.
“We’re tapping into every part of the job search process so that instead of going to 100 different platforms to write your resume, apply for jobs, and track job applications, you can do everything on one platform,” says Nikita Gupta, co-founder of Careerflow.ai.
A former recruiter at Uber, Gupta co-founded the company six months ago when mass layoffs began roiling the tech industry. “There are already thousands of AI-powered recruitment tools, but comparatively few tools out there to help job seekers,” says Gupta. “It’s much easier for software companies to make money from recruiting tools for large enterprises than to provide tools to job seekers.”
3. Use it to write introductory, follow-up, and thank-you emails
Job searching entails endless emails—introducing yourself to recruiters, following up, and sending thank-yous after interviews. Generative AI is incredibly helpful at first drafts. Sometimes, the bot will even include placeholders for personal information, like a project you worked on or the job title you’re inquiring about.
As always, customize the email to include details on your specific skills or interactions with the recipient (eg: reiterate that you enjoyed discussing XYZ with the hiring manager and would love to hear more). Also, ChatGPT responses can be flat and lacking flair/personality, which is fine for a resume, but not for an email. Don’t forget to add a little character before sending an AI-generated email.
You can also use the GPT for Sheets browser extension to generate personalized outreach messages en masse in Google Sheets. Input a list of recipients and their info (name, job title, and company), and the tool will generate a unique message for each person based on this data. See this tutorial from Expandi for details on how to do it.
Finally, use Grammarly to tighten your writing, correct grammatical mistakes, and eliminate redundancies. The AI-powered browser plugin even analyzes the tone of your writing, helping you sound friendlier and more confident.
“AI is going to be extremely helpful for people who speak English as a second language so they can get a sense of how to communicate in a professional setting,” Tomaino points out.
4. Improve your portfolio website
You can use a website builder or no-code portfolio site to display your work or build a website from scratch by asking ChatGPT to write code. Define the code requirements: (eg: “Write code for a single portfolio page using HTLM, CSS, and Bootstrap.”) Be as specific as possible about what elements you want (eg: “3 large menu items virtually centered on the left.” “The menu items will be titled ‘About,’ ‘Work’ and ‘Contact.’)
You still need some coding knowledge to tweak it to your requirements. Once you’ve nailed the design, repurpose your cover letter and resume to write an ‘About Me’ section on your website. Again, treat this as a template or starting point. In addition to your work history and experience, add some personality (eg: what you like to do in your free time or how you became interested in your line of work). State why you’re passionate about your field and what services you offer.
5. Automate your job applications
The most time-consuming part of the job search is searching for, saving, and applying to jobs that match your skills and interests. Job boards like Indeed, LinkedIn, and Glassdoor use machine learning algorithms to match candidates with job openings that match their qualifications. Upload a resume to each job board and complete your profile for more personalized recommendations. Mention certifications you hold, years of experience, and preferred work arrangements.
Sick of manually entering your resume into application forms right after uploading it? Simplify is a Chrome extension that auto-populates text fields on the job application page based on your provided information.
You can also use ChatGPT to generate answers to application questions, such as “Why do you want to work at Company X?” or “What makes you a good fit for this role?”
Here are some other ways to automate the application process.
Tracking job applications
Job search spreadsheets help job seekers stay organized, but manual data entry is cumbersome. Huntr is a job search CRM that lets you keep track of applications and where you found them. For example, you can create wishlists and track jobs you’ve applied for. The software pulls each job’s job description, salary range, location, and other details. Easily save jobs from various job boards and visualize the state of your job search in a Kanban board.
See how many applications, interviews, and offers you’ve received in one view. You can also store contact information for recruiters, potential referrers, or people you meet at networking events. Careerflow.ai offers a similar job-tracking feature that enables recruiters to find your profile in search results.
If you’d prefer a free alternative, use Airtable with a dedicated browser plugin called Airtable web clipper, which auto-populates your Airtable spreadsheet with jobs you’ve applied for or wishlisted. Here’s a tutorial on how to do this.
Automated job applications
Job search automation platforms are becoming increasingly popular, but their usefulness is unclear. These platforms auto-apply for jobs on candidates’ behalf using a provided resume and other information. While this helps scale your job search efforts, it offers no opportunity to personalize applications. “These tools save job seekers time, but they need to be careful not to spam recruiters with random applications,” says Gupta. “The tool will tell them if the job description matches their profile and if skills are missing, they can go and learn those skills before applying.”
The Careerflow.ai job search tracker lets you add jobs directly from 20+ job boards, including LinkedIn, Glassdoor, ZipRecruiter, and Indeed and details, including the job descriptions, company info, and application link. “When you apply to a job, it will be automatically saved on your personalized job board,” Gupta explains. “This lets you track how many applications, interviews, and callbacks you get.”
LoopCV is one of the first platforms to automate job searches. Create a profile and upload your resume. Next, select desired job titles, locations, and other optional filter settings. LoopCV will search for job matches and either apply on your behalf or notify you to log in and finalize an application. You can also prompt the app to email recruiters based on a chosen template. See email performance statistics to see how many employers opened an email or clicked on a resume. The software collects jobs from various job boards and automatically sends application emails.
Or, take inspiration from communications executive Robert Koombs and build a bot to aggregate hiring managers’ contact info and submit customized application emails en masse (Koombs ultimately scrapped the bot when he realized in-person networking was more effective).
LazyApply is a browser plugin that automates job applications. Once you enter your information—skills, job location, experience level—the plug-in will autofill job applications on your behalf. However, don’t go overboard. You can specify the number of job openings you want to apply to—stick to a maximum of 10-20 per day. You can also block applications to companies you’re not interested in. Sonara is another AI-powered tool currently in beta testing that offers similar functionality.
6. Get help with take-home assignments
Take-home assignments enable employers to assess a candidate’s skills by assigning them tasks mirroring the responsibilities they’ll encounter on the job. These assignments are complex and require time to complete as they aim to assess the candidate’s skills and understanding of the technologies being used.
Tools like ChatGPT enable candidates to generate code and submit it as their own with minimal tweaks without fully understanding what they are doing. Widespread access to these tools will force companies to rethink aptitude tests—similar to the pressure among higher education institutions to change their assessment approach, as 89% of students reportedly lean on AI writing tools to complete homework assignments.
“I think companies will rely less on take-home technical assignments and a lot more on live coding challenges and whiteboarding so they can see how the applicant approaches the problem,” says Tomaino.
For example, instead of generic HackerRank questions, candidates might see context-specific questions requiring would-be engineers to make trade-offs and demonstrate their understanding of business requirements.
Complex take-home assignments require a deeper understanding of the technologies, but you can use ChatGPT as a starting point. For example, you can ask it to generate a list of requirements for a specific application, or boilerplate code which you then modify.
“I use large language models to suggest ideas I haven’t thought of because it was trained on the collective intelligence of the entire internet,” says Motawe. “This saves me the time of doing a Google search, going through the search results, and summarizing everything.”
Don’t do yourself the disservice of simply copy-pasting code from ChatGPT. If you don’t know how to complete the take-home assignment, you will fail on the job.
7. Practice interview questions
ChatGPT can develop a list of questions to ask during an informational interview, or questions hiring managers might ask you. You can also ask ChatGPT to simulate a mock interview. Try prompting it with: “Pretend you’re a hiring manager interviewing me for a UX design role. Ask me behavioral questions and provide feedback on my answers.”
Note that the bot can’t advise you on cultural fit or charisma and can only provide feedback on one answer at a time rather than assessing your overall interview performance.
Google offers a free AI-powered interview practice tool called Interview Warmup. The tool asks questions that you respond to out loud. Your answers are transcribed in real-time. The AI then provides insights about your answers.
This tool is best for data analytics, e-commerce, IT, project management, and UX design jobs. Standout.com lets you practice interview questions and gain insight into what you need to improve. Their AI-powered tool analyzes your spoken responses to provide feedback on word pace, hesitations, and word choices.
AI tools are here to stay, and there’s no shame in using them
AI tools are here to stay, and there’s no shame in using them responsibly to boost your job search. Ryan Stringham, a senior project manager at Pura, posted on LinkedIn about how he used AI to land his most recent role. Already, job seekers are experimenting with AI to take the pain out of job searching.
According to a February survey from ResumeBuilder.com of 1,000 current and recent job hunters, nearly half (46%) of job seekers use the chatbot to craft their résumés or cover letters. Seventy percent of respondents saw a higher response rate when using ChatGPT. Seventy-eight percent of candidates who used the chatbot scored interviews, while nearly six in 10 job hunters were hired after using the AI tool during their application process.
“AI is helping to decentralize power and level the playing field for job seekers,” says Tomaino. “So much of job searching is about creating content—writing a resume, cover letter, and answering application questions. AI removes the arduous parts of the job search so you don’t have to continuously grind your gears to land a job.”