Skip to Content

Here’s how AI can — and can’t — help you look for a job

Experts say AI programs may make your job search process more efficient, but caution that you should never blindly use what AI spits out.
Alexandre Rotenberg / Alamy Stoc/ Stock Photo
Experts say AI programs may make your job search process more efficient, but caution that you should never blindly use what AI spits out.

By Jeanne Sahadi, CNN

New York (CNN) — When it comes to job hunting, applicants are starting to use generative artificial intelligence to make a better first impression.

Job seekers using free AI programs like ChatGPT are asking the programs to tailor their resumes to a specific employer and job description, write cover letters, create writing samples and provide answers on job applications, according to Gartner, a research and consulting firm.

Job candidates also can use it to help prepare for interview questions, should they get to that stage.

The career experts CNN spoke with all agree that AI can make your job hunt easier and faster — especially when you’re applying to a lot of jobs at different companies.

But they all cautioned that candidates should never blindly use what AI spits out.

“Use AI as a tool, but don’t use it as your only tool. Use the answers as a template, not as the Holy Grail,” said Darci Smith, a career coach and managing partner at Roklyn Consulting, a recruiting firm for financial advisers, financial planners and their support staff.

In other words, treat AI’s responses to your prompts as suggestions to be tweaked and personalized to better reflect your experiences and who you are. And if something feels off in the answers you receive, it may well be. ChatGPT even notes as a caveat that it “may give you inaccurate information.”

Customize and gut check

Another way job seekers may use ChatGPT is as a backstop to check that they’ve covered all the bases in their materials, or to see if there’s a better way to phrase something or better highlight what they have done.

In some ways, consulting AI to see how it would write your resume or cover letter and comparing that to what you have already created is not much different from consulting Google or a friend for a second opinion, said career coach David Timis.

But relying on it to do your thinking for you is dangerous, said Timis, who also serves as the communications manager for Generation, a global employment program that helps economically vulnerable people learn skills so they can be hired for jobs in technology, sustainability and health care, among other areas.

“[Writing] is a way to improve your thinking. With AI you can avoid thinking altogether. That’s a threat to education,” he said.

And using AI to do your thinking can threaten your chances of getting hired if a recruiter or hiring manager senses your answers are inauthentic or generated by a computer.

“I can spot when someone is being robotic or overprepared when they are reading answers on the phone or over Zoom,” Smith said.

It also will become obvious in the interview process if you are not as fluent in a language or as clear a writer as your application suggests.

In that case, Smith noted, if the job you’re applying for is technical and doesn’t require that you communicate directly with clients or customers in writing, you might mention in the interview you used AI as a tool to prepare your application and then highlight why the skills you do have make you best suited for the open position.

When AI won’t help

While some employers might frown on your using AI, others may not be concerned because it is a tool and using it shows you are resourceful, said Jamie Kohn, senior research director in Gartner’s human resources practice.

But the onus will then be on the interviewer to probe whether you have the capacity to think creatively and problem solve on your feet.

“Some companies are thinking they may need to train interviewers to ask follow-up questions unlikely to be answered by AI,” Kohn said.

For instance, she explained, you may have used AI to reply to a question about how you would handle a given situation. But in the interview, you also may be asked what the logic was behind your answer, and then you may be asked how you would respond differently if a variable or two is changed.

In other words, you’ll have to show your intellectual and technical chops. And you’ll have to let them see who you are and how you operate. That’s because you’re not just being assessed on your skills and experience. You’re being assessed on how well you might fit in with the culture of the company.

“My clients want more and more of the human person. We’re using these structured robotic tools. But companies are looking for that human connection. It’s a delicate balance,” Smith said.

The one group of job applicants who might want to steer clear of using AI for anything more than a quick check against what they have already created are people applying for very senior roles, said Stacie Haller, chief career adviser at ResumeBuilder.

Haller said she has seen C-suite level executives use AI to create their resume. The result: “It looks like it’s from a new college grad,” she noted. “At the C-suite level, it’s about how you set strategy and how you make things happen at an organization. [AI] is totally the wrong tool to use.”

The same goes for anyone who wants to start a new career that is very different from their current one, Kohn suggested. “AI may not be as good in highlighting transferrable skills or telling the narrative of why you want to change careers. It’s very personal. … It won’t know the history of why I’m motivated to move into a new job.”

Some things haven’t changed

For all the efficiencies that new technologies such as AI have introduced into the job search process, it’s worth remembering that they have not (so far anyway) usurped the very human way many job seekers still land their next gig.

“Knowing people. The best and most common way people find their next job is through their network,” Haller said.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

Article Topic Follows: Technology

Jump to comments ↓

CNN Newsource


KIFI Local News 8 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content