Google Discover recently threw a Mashable article at me about using ChatGPT to help write cover letters and how HR professionals are apparently displeased by this so I figured let’s talk about it since some of you might be looking for a job in the coming months. The figures come from a report by tech-forward talent company iCIMS called “Class of,” a sort of snapshot of the year’s graduating class. The press release says:
The buzz of AI and ChatGPT is seeping into the job application process – for better or worse. Almost half (47%) of college seniors are interested in using ChatGPT or other AI bots to write their resumes or cover letters, and 25% of Gen Z already use an AI bot to help write their resumes or cover letters. But they should proceed with caution, as nearly 40% of HR professionals say using ChatGPT/AI bots during the hiring process is a definite deal breaker.
Oh please. HR has been using applicant tracking systems to automate the tossing of resumes into the garbage for years. HireVue can punt you from the applicant pool if it doesn’t like the cut of your jib. And now they’re using an AI tool that “scans emails from applicants and responds to those emails using language that feels warm and human” (the irony). So it’s a bit rich for those same people to turn around and say they’ll deny you a job if you get a little help from technology.
Here’s my question: how would they even know a candidate used AI to help with a cover letter or resume? ChatGPT detectors aren’t great at the moment. I ran this article I wrote through ZeroGPT and it said two sentences that I know for sure I typed with my human hands using words generated from my brain were suspected to be most likely generated by AI. To be fair, that result is complicated by the fact that millions of sentences I’ve written in my voice in the last 15 years are publicly available for language models to learn from, see this Washington Post investigation into Google’s C4 data set that shows Going Concern data has helped train a few large language models like Google’s T5 and Facebook’s LLaMA (those poor models).
For a better example, check out the Texas A&M professor who flunked his entire class and almost screwed them out of their degrees because ChatGPT erroneously took credit for writing their papers. To make that story even funnier, a Redditor ran a selection of text from the professor’s doctoral dissertation through ChatGPT and asked if the AI wrote it to which our future overlord responded “Yes, the passage you shared could indeed have been generated by a language model like ChatGPT, given the right prompt. The text contains several characteristics that are consistent with AI-generated content.” Beautiful.
Here’s my other question: why do they care? Really, why do they care? If AI can help someone who isn’t the best writer put their best self forward and produce an attractive cover letter then what’s the problem unless that person is actually a writer and the job position is Senior Writer?
To get perspective from the recruiter side, I asked Beth Dierker of Accountingfly (and by “asked” I mean I Slacked her with a link to the Mashable article) if she’s heard any firms complaining about candidates using AI to zhuzh up their resumes. She said not really and offered some advice for candidates:
ChatGPT can be a helpful tool for candidates, for example writing cover letters or enhancing your resume to highlight experience that matches job requirements. But in my opinion candidates should be careful and use ChatGPT responsibly. The copy produced should be proofread for accuracy and tone, and don’t let it misrepresent your experience.
So there you have it. Use it, just use it wisely. Fuck ’em.