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Everywhere you look, it seems like increasingly advanced forms of AI are changing how we live our lives. From fears of AI replacing jobs to struggles with such technologies in academia, most people look at AI like ChatGPT with at least some amount of skepticism.
At JobTest.org, however, we believe that ChatGPT—and AI in general—can be an extraordinarily powerful tool for those who know how to use it. In the case of job seekers, ChatGPT can simplify the process considerably and give you a head start compared to other applicants.
In this article, we'll explore how you can harness ChatGPT to tackle one of the most dreaded parts of the job application process: writing cover letters. While it remains a standard part of many job applications, crafting a compelling cover letter presents a significant hurdle for those who struggle to "sell" themselves on paper.
With a bit of research and a few convenient ChatGPT prompts in your pocket (which we'll provide), you can use ChatGPT to write, edit, and optimize your cover letter until it's exactly what potential employers are looking for.
Below, we'll take a look at the value of the perfect cover letter, the key components that go into making one effective, and specific techniques you can use to leverage ChatGPT to write a cover letter that opens doors.
The Importance of a Strong Cover Letter
Although it may be one of the least favorite parts of a job application for many people, the initial cover letter is nonetheless one of your most important opportunities to grab a potential employer's attention. Not only does it provide a chance to list technical skills and achievements in a compelling, personalized way, but it also lets job seekers express who they are, how they connect to the position, and why they'd be a good fit in a given role.
While a resume should be a concise, objective list of facts and details about your background, taking the time to write your cover letter in a passionate, eloquent way can often set you apart from more standard applications.
Still, though passion and personality are important, it's crucial to make your cover letter concise and polished in order to express as much information in as short a span as possible. Hiring managers, on average, only look at applications for about seven seconds, so putting in the work to leap off the page is well worth the investment. A polished cover letter is essential for putting your best foot forward right from your initial application.
The Purpose of a Cover Letter
Essentially, an excellent cover letter doesn't just repeat the information provided by your resume; it complements it in a personalized, engaging way that makes the case for why you deserve an interview. Although we've gone over the general importance of a cover letter already, there are some more specific advantages offered by crafting a compelling cover letter, such as:
Making your first impression count
Even before your resume, your cover letter will typically be the first chance you get to make an impression on a hiring manager or employer. In addition to conveying your passion, personality, and achievements, a strong cover letter also acts as proof of your communication abilities.
The unfortunate truth for many, however, is that regardless of how qualified you are for a position, you may be passed over for another applicant if you fail to adequately express those qualifications.
Narrating your professional journey
A good cover letter is essentially a story in which you are the hero of your professional history. While a chronological resume can give clear, concise information about your work experience, a truly great cover letter crafts that same experience into a compelling narrative that should make any hiring manager excited to schedule an interview.
Beyond showcasing your experience in a creative way, your cover letter also provides an opportunity to express your own passion and enthusiasm for a role, as well as your understanding of the company and its values.
Addressing resume gaps
In instances where your resume has gaps or information that requires further explanation, a cover letter can often answer questions before they're even asked. And, since you have much more space and freedom with a cover letter than you do with a formal resume, you can fully and proactively address things like career breaks, role transitions, or anything that a hiring manager may view as a so-called "red flag."
Customizing your pitch
It's always good to personalize and tailor the information you put into your resume to a specific role or company. That said, there's only so much personalization you can do to the relatively objective information included in a formal resume.
Cover letters, on the other hand, give you the opportunity to show that you've researched a role or company. By taking the time to make sure that your cover letter matches the values and ambitions of the position to which you're applying, you show a potential employer that you're taking the opportunity seriously. Even better, you can emphasize specific skills or personality traits to show that you'd be a good fit for a role and the company's culture.
Critical Components of an Effective Cover Letter
Every cover letter is a unique expression of its writer's skills, personality, and experience. Still, most can be broken down into three main sections, each of which is crucial to crafting a complete, effective cover letter.
The introduction is arguably the single most important part of any cover letter. If done right, it can grab the reader's attention and convince them to give the rest of your application a longer look. Done poorly, hiring managers may simply skim and miss all the things that make you a great candidate.
While writing your introduction, focus on crafting a strong, punchy "hook," just like you'd expect from the beginning of a good novel. Then, immediately transition to stating the position you're applying for and how passionate or enthusiastic you are about the opportunity.
The body of your cover letter is where you'll get a chance to list your skills, experience, and any personal qualities that make you a good fit for the role to which you're applying. For this section, take the time to study the job posting and research your potential employer. That way, you can use carefully chosen details to show that you've done your homework and share the company's values.
Remember, your cover letter isn't the place to drily list your skills and qualifications. Instead, feel free to add a bit of personality and voice while still using professional language.
No story is complete without a good ending. For cover letters, that ending comes in your conclusion or your "call to action." Here, you should restate your excitement while also urging the person reading to give your full application the time and attention it deserves. While it's good to write this portion with confidence, make sure not to come off as demanding or expectant.
Also, a heartfelt statement of gratitude for the time spent reading your cover letter is always welcome. Done correctly, your conclusion should effectively serve as the motivation a hiring manager needs to take a closer look at your complete resume.
ChatGPT: Your AI Cover Letter Writing Assistant
Since it was first developed, ChatGPT has begun to revolutionize countless fields and tasks, from web development to creative writing. As its creators have continued to improve and refine the technology, ChatGPT has developed an even more impressive ability to produce "natural" language—like the kind you need to craft a compelling cover letter.
As you learn more about ChatGPT and how to harness its abilities, think of it as a personal assistant, one that has a particularly good grasp of data analysis and how to take direction.
What Is ChatGPT and How Can It Help?
In basic terms, ChatGPT is an artificial intelligence system designed to participate in "conversations" and perform tasks dictated to it by human users. These attributes make ChatGPT a powerful resource for writing cover letters and similar tasks: you provide the key details, and it creates optimized content for your reader.
Among its many capabilities, ChatGPT can:
Process advanced language
When provided with the correct prompts or instructions, ChatGPT can generate complex, eloquent responses on a range of topics. In the context of writing a cover letter, this means that users can prompt ChatGPT to refine or polish their writing into something worthy of a professional writer.
Collect and compile data
ChatGPT draws from an ever-growing supply of training data in order to provide accurate information and responses. For premium users with access to the newest features of ChatGPT, this includes the ability to browse the internet in real-time as you construct prompts.
Beyond its value as a research tool, ChatGPT can also produce an impressive level of creative writing when prompted correctly. For job seekers, this provides an opportunity to inject style and personality into writing that would otherwise be absent with less advanced writing tools.
If you have an existing resume or cover letter that needs work, ChatGPT can review its contents and structure and then give advice on how they might be improved. While the most obvious use of this feature is to check for grammatical errors or spelling mistakes, ChatGPT's feedback can also provide creative ideas for what kinds of language and content to include to "punch up" your cover letter.
Setting Up ChatGPT to Write Cover Letters
In order for ChatGPT to produce the best possible cover letter, it's important that you gather the information it'll need to do its job. Before you begin prompting, make sure you have the following information:
Since you'll be tailoring your cover letter to a specific job and company, it's important to keep a copy of the job description and posting to supply to ChatGPT. By doing so, ChatGPT can extract the most valuable keywords or required skills from that information to use in writing your cover letter.
If you've already written a resume (or used ChatGPT to write one for you), you can give it to ChatGPT as an additional source of information to use while creating your cover letter. Depending on which version of the AI you use, you can either attach your resume file or copy and paste the entire document directly into ChatGPT's prompt window.
Target company research
Part of writing a truly effective, targeted cover letter and resume is doing your research about the company to which you're applying. With ChatGPT, there are two main ways of doing this: either research the company manually and then feed that information to ChatGPT, or instruct ChatGPT to do the research itself by supplying the URL of the company's website.
Keep in mind that this second option is only available to users with a monthly subscription to ChatGPT's premium version.
Beyond objective, factual information about your skills, achievements, and work history, ChatGPT can also help refine your personal information into a glowing example of how your personality would make you an excellent fit for the role or company culture.
Finding the necessary perspective to supply this kind of information can be difficult for some, however, so consider investing in a high-quality personality test to give yourself a better understanding of your work personality and how it might be leveraged in crafting a successful cover letter.
Crafting Your Introduction with ChatGPT
Just like with a good book or academic paper, the introduction of your cover letter is your chance to hook the reader and convince them to continue reading. Conversely, a boring or lackluster introduction may get you passed over in favor of a more "exciting" application.
Below, we'll go over a few ways that you can use ChatGPT to write an eye-catching introduction.
Generating a Hook: The Opening Line
If you do nothing else to optimize your introduction, taking the time to craft a punchy, bold opening line is the best possible way you can improve your cover letter. Because hiring managers spend so little time looking at each resume, making sure that they immediately recognize your application as one to consider is crucial.
With the right prompts, you can have ChatGPT perform tasks such as:
Helping you introduce yourself
Your cover letter is your chance to show potential employers who you are and why your personality matters for the role to which you're applying. To make this introduction more confident and engaging, consider asking ChatGPT to rewrite your basic introduction using different tones or voices.
An example prompt would be: "Pretend you are writing a cover letter to apply for a role as a (job title) with the company (company name). The goal is to craft a more engaging, eye-catching introduction to gain the attention of the reader. Rewrite the following section using a professional, passionate tone: (include your introduction here)."
Depending on what kind of voice you'd like to use for the introduction, simply replace "professional" and "passionate" with other adjectives or add more adjectives to the description. If you're having trouble thinking of these adjectives, you can ask ChatGPT to write a list of those, too.
Speaking to shared values
Since you've already taken the time to research the company to which you're applying, you can have ChatGPT use that research to identify values you share with the company in question. For example, you could reference a specific value that resonates particularly strongly with you.
An example prompt would be: "Pretend you are writing a cover letter to apply for a role as a (job title) with the company (company name). Using the research and information I've provided, identify shared values between my resume and the company's mission statement. Then, write a compelling introduction section highlighting those shared values."
For applicants with particularly impressive resumes or professional achievements, including an exciting statistic from your work history can give you an edge over other cover letters. Once you've supplied ChatGPT with your resume or professional information, you can prompt it to include this kind of statistic in an organic, optimized way.
An example prompt would be: "Pretend you are writing a cover letter to apply for a role as a (job title) with the company (company name). Using (include statistic or achievement here), write a professional, organic introduction to highlight this achievement in a way that aligns with the company's values."
Personalizing Your Introduction
When choosing between a cookie-cutter resume and a more personalized cover letter, most hiring managers will opt for the latter. Because of this, the introduction following your initial hook should succeed in conveying who you are and why you're excited by the role or company to which you're applying. Consider asking ChatGPT to personalize your cover letter by:
- Weaving in personal anecdotes: Use a personal story or experience to express your passion for the opportunity and the type of work you'd be doing.
- Demonstrating company knowledge: Organically include mentions of recent company news or initiatives to show that you've done your research.
- Explaining motivations: Explain how the role matches your personal ambitions and values to show you'd be a good cultural fit for the role.
Highlighting Your Skills and Experiences
Once you've convinced the reader to commit more time to your cover letter, you then have to capitalize on the opportunity by giving them hard-hitting information about your skills and experiences. With the right instruction, ChatGPT can make this information more appealing and convincing.
Matching Your Skills with Job Requirements
Since you've already provided the job description and your resume to ChatGPT (as we instructed earlier), the AI now has everything it needs to identify relevant skills and write them out in a clear, concise way.
An example prompt would be: "Using the job description and resume I provided earlier, identify the skills and experience in my resume most relevant to the role. Then, use the skills and experience you identify to write a professional, compelling paragraph for my cover letter."
Showcasing Achievements with ChatGPT's Help
It's safe to say that both ChatGPT and hiring managers share a love for clear, objective statistics. Whenever possible, have ChatGPT include hard numbers in the language it uses to demonstrate your achievements or work history.
An example prompt would be: "I want to emphasize the fact that I increased website traffic for my company by 30% within 6 months by overseeing an SEO initiative. Please write a compelling body paragraph showcasing this achievement."
Concluding with a Strong Call to Action
If a hiring manager makes it all the way through your cover letter, you've already accomplished half of the battle. To wrap things up, end with a conclusion that focuses on the next step: an interview. Here, you can have ChatGPT use confident but respectful language to ask for a chance to discuss your qualifications and the position further.
Writing a Memorable Conclusion
The conclusion of your cover letter is your chance to restate any particularly important pieces of information, express your enthusiasm and gratitude one final time, and make a lasting impression on the reader. Since you've already generated the introduction and body of your cover letter using ChatGPT, you can have it use that writing to create a concise conclusion.
An example prompt would be:
"Using the instructions you've already received throughout our conversation, generate a professional conclusion based on the introduction and body text you previously generated. This conclusion should use a professional, enthusiastic tone and include a thank you to the reader for their time and consideration."
Editing and Refining Your Cover Letter with ChatGPT
Once you've generated the individual pieces of your cover letter using ChatGPT, you can then assemble them into a complete rough draft. With this in hand, you can use ChatGPT to edit that draft for spelling and grammar and refine the writing further in spots that you feel need more attention.
Utilizing ChatGPT for Proofreading
Using ChatGPT to proofread your cover letter (or any other text) is very straightforward. In basic, conversational language, simply ask ChatGPT to check for:
- Grammar and spelling
- Tone and style
- Factual accuracy
As you receive each new version of your edited cover letter from ChatGPT, you can continue feeding it back in with the same prompts until you're satisfied with the final version.
Getting Feedback and Making Revisions
Beyond simple proofreading and editing, ChatGPT can also give you more in-depth feedback about the quality of your cover letter. Once you have a fully written, edited version with which you're satisfied, consider asking ChatGPT questions such as:
Does the introduction grab attention and convey enthusiasm?
Do the body paragraphs succeed in demonstrating my achievements and skills?
Does the conclusion persuasively make the case for an interview?
Just like with the editing process, you can incorporate multiple rounds of this kind of feedback to generate increasingly polished, effective drafts of your cover letter.
Beyond the Cover Letter: Preparing for Next Steps
While creating a ChatGPT cover letter is one of the most powerful ways to use AI in your job hunt, it's far from the only way. Once you've created a cover letter that you're happy with, there are some additional ways you can use ChatGPT and non-AI tools to prepare for next steps.
Using ChatGPT to Anticipate Interview Questions
Mock interviews have been used for years to prepare for make-or-break meetings with hiring managers and potential employers. With ChatGPT, you can quickly and accurately compile a list of questions you may be asked during such an interview.
An example prompt would be: "Pretend you are conducting an interview with an applicant for (job title) in the (field or industry). Compile a list of the questions most commonly asked of an applicant in this field. For each question, also provide examples of a compelling answer."
Reach Out to Career Coaches
If, like many people, you’d feel more comfortable pairing ChatGPT with a more human touch, consider looking into career coaches to help with the next steps of your job hunt. These experts provide insider information and fact-based guidance to give you the confidence and perspective you need to find success.
JobTest.org, for instance, uses an AI-driven career test and matching service to identify the career coaches most aligned with your personality and goals. If you’re interested in seeing what this kind of service has to offer, take a look at our career coaching packages today to get started.
Continuous Learning and Improvement with AI
With the right understanding and resources, ChatGPT—and AI in general—can be a powerful tool for job seekers. Outside its role as a cover letter writer and editor, this kind of AI is increasingly used by companies to fuel potent job-related services.
JobTest.org's career tests, for instance, use a carefully tailored version of AI to guide users through a personalized testing process. Then, we compare those answers to enormous troves of data about real-world jobs to give you accurate, actionable advice on how to succeed in the job hunt. Rather than requiring you to do the work yourself, however, our process takes care of all the technical hurdles that go into getting real results from AI tools.
From advice on skill building to insights about industry trends, our services give you everything you need to get started. So, whether you're looking for a little extra help landing a dream job or want guidance on how to secure a promotion, consider seeing how we can help.