AI is the talk of the town these days. It’s coming for all our jobs, maybe. But is it helpful for our job applications? Should you use ChatGPT to write your resume?
We conducted several experiments with fictionalized candidates and real job postings to test ChatGPT’s capabilities. Obviously, as resume writers, we have a huge stake in this question, so we were very scared of what we’d find. But our ultimate goal is to help Hollywood professionals navigate their careers (in and out of the industry), so if ChatGPT’s resume writing prowess would mean that we’d lean more into the career coaching side of things, we'd be open to that, too.
What we found was that ChatGPT can write a semi-decent resume, but it lacks specificity and won't stand out from the crowd. And it takes some finesse to get a final product that's close to decent. For one of our experiments, we shared a job posting for a branded content producer and wrote about our fictional candidate’s experience by using some of the skills and keywords we’d use ourselves, if we’d been hired to write the candidate’s resume. ChatGPT’s version was pretty good – it spit back a lot of the keywords we input and used mostly strong action verbs. However, the ChatGPT resume included an objective and listed soft skills, which we (and most experts) don’t recommend. And more importantly, it didn’t include any achievements or context and read as very generic – for example:
We then tried an approach more akin to the way our clients approach us initially. Instead of sharing a specific job posting, we shared a broad role category (development executive). We also prompted ChatGPT with a more casual way of explaining our fictional candidate’s background, the way our clients often do in their initial outreach to us and before we ask follow up questions on our calls. This version was much less successful. For example:
Based on our assessment, ChatGPT is not capable of writing a strong resume on its own. But it could be a good starting place for you to write your own materials. You’ll need to spoonfeed it details using the right terminology and do some pretty heavy editing to personalize it and make it read like a human wrote it. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys the revision process but hates staring at a blank page, you might find ChatGPT to be a helpful tool to point you in the right direction.
However, if you’re having trouble figuring out which of your achievements to highlight in your application, or you don’t have the time to redline an AI-generated document, or you’re not confident in your ability to write strong, clear prompts, you may be better off staying away from these tools, at least for now. Their promise of the ability to write an interview-worthy resume in the blink of an eye isn’t fully realized. As human resume writers, we can ask the right probing questions to pinpoint our clients' relevant achievements and write their documents in a way that reflects their and our humanity. If you don’t have the budget for a human resume writer, you may still be better off on your own -- create a skills list (with the brainstorming help of friends and colleagues), follow our tips for writing strong materials, and have a friend look the documents over for typos and clarity.
Remember, the hiring manager wants to hire a human for the open role (for now!). Whether you use ChatGPT as a starting point or not, make sure your unique perspective and background comes through in your application.
-- Angela Silak & Cindy Kaplan