How ChatGPT Can–and Can't–Help Your Job Search

job search/courtesy vecteezy

Photo shows woman typing on laptop/courtesy Vecteezy/Creative Commons

By now, you’re likely familiar with ChatGPT– a chatbot that uses artificial intelligence to answer questions and prompts with detailed, human-like responses. 

The AI tool and others like it are meant for general use, making the possibilities endless. You can ask ChatGPT to help you write song lyrics, conduct research or help you decide on a party theme.

One journalist even used it to write an entire faux newspaper with headshots, names and bios for the employees, code for the website and news articles about fake events. 

How ChatGPT Can–and Can't–Help Your Job Search

It stands to reason that ChatGPT can also aid professionals in their job search. So, I asked ChatGPT how it could help. It responded and said it can be used in the following areas:

  1. Resumes and cover letters 

  2. Job search recommendations

  3. Interview preparation

  4. Company research 

  5. Career advice

I put ChatGPT to the test in each of these areas and framed my questions to mirror those that a life sciences job seeker might ask. 

Overall, the tool was more helpful than I expected, and it excelled in certain areas. But like any technology, it has its limitations.

Here’s what ChatGPT can and can’t do to aid your job search. 

Resumes and Cover Letters

ChatGPT wrote that it can provide both tips on and examples for writing resumes and cover letters. The tips were, overall, lackluster. However, the examples were much better than I expected. 

The quality of the cover letters and resumes that ChatGPT generated depended heavily on the position I asked about. For example, the example resume it generated for a chemist was detailed and descriptive, complete with industry jargon, and acronyms. It even listed examples of professional memberships and certifications. 

The cover letter for a chemist, however, paled in comparison. It was much less specific and read like a generic cover letter example one might find for any role. 

Job Search Recommendations

ChatGPT stated it can provide job recommendations based on your interests, skills and experience. Similar to the resumes and cover letters, the answers varied based on the detail and specificity of the question. 

For example, I asked, “What kind of job is best for someone who likes research and has a doctorate degree?” It responded with several potential roles, including a research scientist, a post-doctoral research fellow and an R&D manager.

It even provided a description for each role and examples of the duties someone in that role would perform. 

In contrast, when I asked, “What kind of job is best for someone who likes science?” the responses were vague. Among other roles, it suggested I become a scientist, a science communicator or a science writer. 

Interview Preparation

ChatGPT wrote it could provide me with “common interview questions, tips on how to answer them effectively and strategies for making a strong impression on your interviewer.”

No matter what specific role I asked it to provide interview questions for, most of the questions in its response were the same. Still, it did provide at least three example questions specific to each role. 

After the questions were listed, it also provided a tip often echoed by recruiters: Be sure to provide specific examples from your work experience that demonstrate your skills and capability for the role. 

Company Research

ChatGPT stated it can provide details about a company's culture, mission and values, as well as its current job openings and requirements. This area may be the one in which ChatGPT is the least helpful. 

Though it provided all the information it promised, it was clearly copied and pasted from the company’s website. It couldn’t provide any unique information that would compel someone to use ChatGPT for company research over the company’s own resources. 

Career Advice

ChatGPT wrote it can give career advice and guidance based on your skills and experience. It also stated it can help you advance in your career, switch to a new industry or improve your skills.

This area, while helpful, is similar to the job recommendations it provides - you get out what you put in. The more detail you give the chatbot in your question, the more detail it will provide in the answer. 

Still, it didn’t give me any advice that I couldn’t get anywhere else. For career advancement or upskilling advice, it’s best to turn to an industry-specific source that can provide more insider information.

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