The bane of any job applicant's existence, cover letters can be especially difficult to write. Between the time it takes to customize a letter for each application, to the many templates out there, it can be hard to tell how exactly to write a cover letter. What if there was a way to easily finish this part of a job application, while still catching the eyes of recruiters?
Of course, you may say “Oh I’ll just use an AI, like ChatGPT,” however, it’s harder than it looks. ChatGPT may not provide the perfect response to a prompt, and if you have recently used it, you can easily note grammar or spelling mistakes that will not fly past the eyes of recruiters.
Before you ask ChatGPT to help, you need to understand what makes a good cover letter. Therefore when ChatGPT does provide a response, you can check it and make sure nothing is off. ChatGPT isn’t a solution to never write a cover letter again, rather it’s a tool that can help you decrease the time it takes to write one.
Let’s discuss how you can write a cover letter, and more specifically, use ChatGPT to help you during the process.
What to Include in a Cover Letter
Cover letters usually consist of 3 parts: the purpose, the proof, and the close.
The purpose section is usually the first paragraph. In this section, you state your name, current role or status as a student, and why you’re applying for this role. This section is usually short, so think of it like an elevator pitch in an interview. If you only had 1-3 sentences to tell the recruiter all about you and your skills, what would you say?
The proof section is where you show that your skills align with the requirements posted on the job description. Just like how Applicant Tracking Systems (ATS) parses resumes, the same can be done for cover letters. It's best if you can correlate the exact keyword with a quantifiable value of what you did, even better if it's in the order the job description is written out in. However, you can't just copy and paste the job description and expect to have a favorable response. Pick 2-3 important bullet points, usually the ones at the top of the job description, and spend your time going into detail about how you have a good understanding of the skills needed to be successful.
The close section is where you tie everything together and create a memorable consultation to make the recruiter remember you. Here you could mention a project that you're proud of or a unique distinction you received. The important thing is to make you seem like an all-rounded candidate that can provide a unique perspective and is capable of performing above and beyond.
How to use ChatGPT to Write a Cover Letter
Now that you understand how cover letters work, you can easily use ChatGPT to write and improve your letters. As you may know, you need well written prompts to get decent results, so let's discuss some of these prompts.
The great thing is that ChatGPT actually remembers multiple prompts, so you can input your resume and ask ChatGPT to "use the information below" and it can automatically customize an answer with your personal info. However, if you do decide to use this method, make sure to get rid of all "unnecessary" info, such as your name and email, so that ChatGPT can properly parse it.
Based on how you want your cover letter to be formatted, there are different prompts you can try. You could write "Write a conversational cover letter for a job application as a [position] at [company] using my resume below as a reference" if you want a basic outline that you can edit.
If you want to use ChatGPT, yet you think the output may seem "artificial" to recruiters, this method allows you to only change what you need, saving you writing time. Ultimately, this also creates a more empathic letter. Although ChatGPT can write text, it can't properly convey complex emotions in its writing, such as having passion or good teamwork. Adding a human touch can make a huge difference, especially when the job you're applying for is in an emotion or thought-based field, such as the humanities.
If you want to get more specific you can write "Draft a persuasive cover letter in 500 words or less highlighting my qualifications and enthusiasm for the [position] at [company] using my resume achievements below." Note how this prompt has more adjectives and qualifiers such as "highlighting my…enthusiasm" and "500 words or less."
If you want to fully use ChatGPT to write a cover letter, since only 26% of recruiters read cover letters, this method is for you. However, this doesn't mean you should just get an output and automatically submit it. Although most recruiters may not read a cover letter, on the odd chance they do, a letter with spelling mistakes or weird grammar is not a good look. Glance over your cover letter at least once before submitting, and make sure nothing is incorrect. ChatGPT can't fact check properly, so it's on you to do so.
Of course, these are just examples of prompts. You can always modify these to highlight different skills such as your "communication abilities" or make them shorter to fit the cover letter requirements. ChatGPT is ever growing and always changing, so don't be afraid to move some words around and experiment on your own to get the perfect cover letter.
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