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Written by Paul DruryPaul Drury

ChatGPT Cover Letter: Prompts and Writing Tips

9 min read
ChatGPT Cover Letter: Prompts and Writing Tips
Generative AI can help us in so many ways. Many job seekers may be wondering how to write a ChatGPT cover letter. We explore the nuances of the human/AI partnership.

There is no magic bullet when it comes to a job search. Your pipeline of potential roles will depend on the volume and quality of the initial effort. Finding an open position is only the first stage. You then need to send off a tailored application. When you are applying to multiple roles, keeping the quality of your job search content high can be tough. That is where a ChatGPT cover letter may be useful.

The benefits of using AI to assist a job seeker to perfect their job search writing are significant. Why would you not want to try out the services of a job search co-pilot? You can be sure that plenty of your fellow job seekers will be using it.

In this blog, we explore the process of writing a ChatGPT cover letter. We consider:

  • What is ChatGPT?
  • Benefits of using AI to write a cover letter
  • How to write a ChatGPT cover letter
  • Cover letter prompt writing
  • Risks with a ChatGPT cover letter

When you have a capable and informed assistant sitting behind that screen, you might be surprised at the output. In the worst-case scenario, you can ignore its suggestions. Yet, ChatGPT could well prove to be the missing link in your job search.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is an advanced AI language model based on the GPT (Generative Pre-trained Transformer) architecture. Designed to comprehend and generate human-like text, it excels in various tasks like answering questions, creative writing, and casual conversation. 

Trained on a diverse array of internet text, it can discuss a wide range of topics but lacks real-time data. Widely used in applications such as customer service, education, and content creation. It also maintains the context of the conversation, improving its relevance. 

It does have limitations, including potential inaccuracies and biases, and it cannot browse the internet. Generative AI such as ChatGPT excels in the ideation process—something that could be game-changing during the stress of a job search where every job description looks the same.

The benefits of using AI to write your cover letter

If you have not used AI to generate content before, you may be somewhat hesitant to invest the time in something that does not have the best reputation for creating natural-sounding text. Having said this, if you embrace some of the tips in this article, the benefits of writing a ChatGPT cover letter could be game-changing for your job search.

  • Optimizes the writing process. It is likely that you will be writing more cover letters than you expect when you start looking for a role. Tailoring from scratch may take a significant amount of time and therefore you may choose to apply to fewer roles. If you are happy with the ChatGPT cover writing process, your job search productivity will skyrocket.
  • Helps figure out your story. When drafting and redrafting your cover letter is simplified, you may be surprised at just how much you change your career story. When something doesn’t sound quite right, generative AI can come up with multiple alternatives. Piece together your sales pitch for each individual role.
  • Mix up the formats. ChatGPT has learned from countless cover letter examples that are out there on the internet, so you can ask it to come up with different variants of a letter to decide on a structure that works for you. Unlike a human, it won’t moan at you when you ask it for another option.
  • Generate ideas on the go. We all know the feeling of getting a great idea and wanting to play around with it. When you are on the move, the lack of pen and paper can sometimes prove tricky. With ChatGPT you can play around with ideas on your mobile device and save them in the history for use when you get home.

How to use ChatGPT to write cover letter: 4 steps

It is likely that you have a working knowledge of ChatGPT if you are reading this article, so we will dive straight in. Can ChatGPT really come up with a cover letter that is both deeply personal to the candidate and tailored towards the specific role? Here are a few suggestions around how to approach the process:

1. Optimize your source material

While you could simply copy/paste the job description and your entire resume into ChatGPT to offer it some food for thought, this may result in irrelevant content for the role in question. It is certainly intelligent enough to match up the basics from the job description and the achievements from your resume, but it will often seize on accomplishments from roles that aren’t entirely relevant. Slim down the parts of your resume that you do not wish it to mention and offer more source material for the jobs that you wish it to highlight.

2. Give ChatGPT a framework

ChatGPT loves being told what to do. The result depends on the parameters of the task, so give it some guidance in terms of how you would like the cover letter to be structured. This may entail reading copious cover letter examples to develop your own opinion first. You can either dictate a structure or ask ChatGPT to copy the structure from an example. While every cover letter should have a flow, it is reasonable to ask it to focus each paragraph on a certain aspect of your application. It excels at writing succinct bullet points.

3. Ask for alternatives

If you feel that a certain phrase doesn’t sound right, ask ChatGPT for more options. Tell it about the tone (and temperature) of the writing and maybe even give it an example of something that you have written as a reference point. Tell it to write at temperate 0.7 and then again at temperature 0.9. You will see a difference.

4. Perfect the culture fit

When a hiring manager reads the cover letter, it should sound like you would fit in well with the team. Use ChatGPT to scan corporate content from websites, social media posts and marketing materials and ask it to pick up on the language. There may be certain words or phrases that are commonly used. Why not incorporate a couple into the cover letter?

Cover letter prompt writing ideas

No matter how tailored your input, there is always a risk that ChatGPT cover letters may sound a little too perfect. If you wish your letter to truly stand out from the crowd (let’s face it, most candidates will be using it) you will need to come up with some thoughtful prompts.

The prompt writing process is not unlike the creative journey that your brain undertakes when it needs to come up with a perfect sentence. When you think about something, you subconsciously give your brain the ingredients to do the work. With prompt writing, give ChatGPT everything that it needs to produce the desired result. This may involve a considerable amount of trial and error.

Here are a few prompts that could lead to something spectacular:

  • “Draft a paragraph of 50 words highlighting my suitability for the role from the point of view of my industry expertise. Use the accomplishments from X role in my resume.”
  • “Compose four bullet points that highlight my main industry accomplishments. Use the job description to find the most relevant requirements for the role. Ensure that you only pick achievements that can be quantified.”
  • “Write two sentences to explain why I am changing careers. Base this on the information from my resume summary and your knowledge of the sectors in question.”

When writing prompts, it is important to set limits with word counts and number of sentences. Generative AI tends to be more verbose than you would need for a cover letter. You only get one chance to tailor your cover letter for each role, so play with the language until you are satisfied. ChatGPT is incredibly responsive to creative prompts.

Risks of creating a ChatGPT cover letter

Employers are unlikely to run a cover letter through an AI detector (that is a thing), but you should nonetheless make every effort to personalize the cover letter after Chat GPT has finished. If the cover letter does not sound like you when you start to speak during an interview, alarm bells will start to ring. ChatGPT can help with ideation and language choices. The result should still have a strong input from the candidate.

There is a small risk of factual errors creeping into the cover letter. Chat GPT may not be as informed as you when it comes to the nuances of your industry, so guard against any content that doesn’t sound quite right. If ChatGPT isn’t using the sort of language that you would use in a business meeting, you would be well advised to amend it.

Key takeaways

Job seekers need all the assistance they can get when it comes to finding a job. While they should be the driving force behind their job search direction, it doesn’t hurt to have some assistance when it comes to tailoring cover letters and resumes for specific jobs.

  • ChatGPT cover letters are a team effort between AI and humans.
  • Optimize content, experiment with formats and perfect your language.
  • Take care with what you ask ChatGPT to analyze as source material.
  • Create a framework for the cover letter to guide ChatGPT’s output.
  • Be creative with your prompt writing to produce truly unique content.
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