Human touch matters: the risks of relying on ChatGPT for your CV

With the advent of ChatGPT, many job hunters are using the artificial intelligence (AI) software to write or enhance their CVs. While this might seem like a smart move, there are plenty of drawbacks to using ChatGPT to write your CV. These include its inability to give personalised advice, limitations in knowledge and reasoning, and the risks of formulaic responses. 

In this article, we'll discuss the reasons why you shouldn't use AI to write your CV, how it can be used cautiously to assist with CV writing, and the importance of human input and expertise in crafting a compelling CV and job application. 

What is ChatGPT?

ChatGPT is a natural language processing tool driven by AI technology. It's much like a chatbot, allowing you to have human-like conversations. The language model can answer questions and assist you with simple tasks, like creating workflows, writing an email, and debugging code. 

ChatGPT was launched as a prototype in November 2022 and garnered immediate attention because of its detailed responses and natural interaction. However, its factual inaccuracy is a major drawback. 

ChatGPT-3.5 is currently free to use, but ChatGPT-4, which was released in March 2023, has a fee. 

The limitations of ChatGPT

ChatGPT has a range of impressive functions, including writing an out-of-office email in the style of Shakespeare. However, the AI technology also has a range of weaknesses that impact its performance and accuracy. 

It can't give personalised advice: ChatGPT can't understand your specific needs and circumstances, so it can't provide personalised advice or recommendations.

It doesn't know everything: ChatGPT is a general-purpose language model and cannot access the internet. It may not have specific knowledge about your request and so it may not give accurate or relevant responses.

It struggles to handle complex tasks: ChatGPT can't handle complex tasks that require human-level reasoning, judgement, and decision-making, like legal or financial advice. The chatbot will only respond to questions directly and as defined within its system from its training.

It can't provide in-depth information: ChatGPT's responses are based on patterns it learned from lots of input while training, so it doesn't always have the capacity to provide in-depth information or explanations.

Its answer will require fine-tuning: Sometimes ChatGPT's responses may be incomplete, inaccurate, or irrelevant. The outputs will always need reviewing and you may need to provide more information or adjust your initial prompt to get the right response.

What are ChatGPT prompts?

AI prompts are task descriptions or requests that the software is supposed to accomplish, action, or respond to. Some examples of ChatGPT prompts include:

  • Please summarise Great Expectations by Charles Dickens for my upcoming lecture

  • Clearly describe quantum computing

  • Describe six effective stretches that are safe and effective for people of all ages

  • Create a children's book about a hedgehog who rides a bike for the first time

  • Provide me with a list of the top SEO blog titles for a website selling hiking boots

  • Make a coding challenge about artificial intelligence taking over the solar system

  • Got any ideas for a 10-year-old's birthday party?

However, the common computer science acronym GIGO (garbage in, garbage out) is pertinent here. The weaker your prompt, the weaker the response. And since we know ChatGPT has a tendency to fabricate, we have to bear in mind that no matter how decent our prompts are, there's always the chance that AI will make up its responses.

AI prompt writing is an art form and it's tricky for the average person to get right. Prompt engineering is a discipline in itself and there are plenty of prompt engineering and AI prompt writer jobs out there. In the US, jobs like this boast salary ranges of between $175,000 and $335,000, which demonstrates how complex CV prompt writing can be.

Why you shouldn't let AI write your CV

AI can help us to do more meaningful work. It can do plenty of heavy lifting with day-to-day tasks, such as summarising reports or recommending a structure for a presentation. But it's not perfect and a human brain is required at the input and output stages.

And that's ultimately why ChatGPT shouldn't write your CV. Sure, it might be able to tidy it up or inspire new phrasing, but to let your chances of a job interview ride on your ability to write effective CV prompts, and AI's ability to understand them accurately, would be foolish. Only a human - or better yet a professional CV writer - can be sure about what your CV should look like as part of a job application.

When you start to experiment with ChatGPT, you'll see that the responses are formulaic and lack personality. It's usually obvious when something has been written using AI. This can put your job application at risk, as many employers might view this approach to writing a CV as disingenuous. 

And finally, we don't know exactly how the respondents used ChatGPT to craft their resumes. The output is only as good as the input: remember GIGO. You could use ChatGPT to craft your CV, but it doesn't mean that it will be any good. You might find that you were better off seeking the help of a CV writing service all along.

How to use ChatGPT to help write your CV

Despite all the warning signs, ChatGPT can be used to help write your CV - at least in the early stages, and especially if writing isn't your strong point. But we must urge you to bear in mind the risks that come with using AI. Remember GIGO!

Using ChatGPT to review your CV

You can use ChatGPT to review your CV; you will need to assign it the role of CV reviewer as part of your prompt. You will also need to outline what you want it to provide feedback on. This may include whether you have all the necessary sections, if you've used a good range of action verbs throughout your employment history, or if you've used enough keywords and phrases.

Here is an example ChatGPT CV prompt for a review:

“Here is a CV for a Retail Assistant that I would like you to read as a CV reviewer. I would like you to provide feedback on the following: are all the necessary sections for a CV present? Is there a good range of action verbs throughout the employment history? Are there enough keywords and phrases?”

The output from ChatGPT in response to this prompt was a little confusing. When responding to the question about necessary CV sections, it simply regurgitated the contents of the CV in bullet points with reasons why it was good to include them.ChatGPT screenshot 1Overall, the CV is well-structured and presents relevant information in a clear and concise manner. It includes the following sections:

Personal Information: Contact details are provided, including email, phone number, LinkedIn profile, and location, which is important for potential employers to be able to reach out to the candidate easily.

Professional Summary: A brief introduction that highlights the candidate's experience, skills, and qualifications, and expresses their career objective. This section provides a good overview of the candidate's profile and sets the tone for the rest of the CV.”

ChatGPT did the same when discussing action verbs and keywords and phrases.

The CV that we input to ChatGPT was a well-written CV, so it's possible that there was no room for improvement. That said, the feedback provided was generic and therefore wasn't particularly useful.

Using ChatGPT to tailor your CV

In another scenario, you might want to tailor your CV using ChatGPT. You will need to tell the chatbot to assess the job description and understand the key requirements, which may include the key duties and responsibilities, and the skills and qualifications required.

Here is an example ChatGPT prompt for tailoring your CV:

I'm about to send you a job description for an Assistant Store Manager position that I'm interested in applying for. Please read the job description and understand the key requirements of the position, including the key duties and responsibilities and the skills and qualifications. Then I will send you my CV. You will review it and suggest how tailored my CV is for the role. Do you acknowledge?”

Once the job description and CV were added as part of the prompt, ChatGPT spat out the CV exactly as it had been inputted, and we had to ask it “Have you reviewed the CV and suggested how tailored it is for the Assistant Store Manager position based on the key requirements mentioned in the job description?” to get the tailored recommendations.

From there, ChatGPT's response was very thorough regarding what was missing and how it could be better tailored. For example, it highlighted that leadership skills were a requirement and advised that it was best to prioritise this information which was currently buried in the job overview.

“Highlight Leadership Skills: The job description may have mentioned requirements for leading and managing a team. In the CV, you can emphasise any relevant leadership skills or experiences, such as coaching less experienced colleagues, resolving customer complaints, or guiding and interacting with customers.

Example: "Coached less experienced colleagues and resolved customer complaints" (from the Retail Assistant role at John Lewis).”

However, ChatGPT wasn't great at suggesting how the phrasing on the CV could be adjusted to accurately tailor the CV to the role. That said, it was able to pull out the most important requirements from the job description.

Using ChatGPT to rephrase your experience

ChatGPT is useful for rephrasing sentences if you're struggling to write a line concisely or impactfully. A simple CV prompt you may use includes:

I'm writing my CV and I want my experience to sound more punchy but maintain conciseness. Can you please review my experience and make my achievements sound more actionable?”

The outputs from this prompt were very impressive as ChatGPT had understood the achievements that were originally listed in the CV and re-written them so that they started with an action word and finished with a benefit:

Certainly! Here are some suggestions to make your experience sound more punchy and actionable while maintaining conciseness:

John Lewis, Liverpool, Retail Assistant (2020 - Present)

  • Provided exceptional customer service by leveraging extensive product and store knowledge to support selling floors and resolve customer complaints
  • Coached and mentored less experienced colleagues, resulting in improved team performance and customer satisfaction
  • Proactively replenished fresh stock before peak times, creating positive customer experiences and contributing to increased sales
  • Maintained health and safety standards to achieve 5-star ratings in audits, showcasing commitment to compliance and operational excellence"

While the output is impressive, there is only so far that ChatGPT can take your experience as it's reliant on your input. 

One key part of CV writing is incorporating facts and figures in your employment history. A professional CV writer can discuss your achievements and help to quantify them with you. AI can't. And numbers are something that's missing from this example response.

Using ChatGPT for your personal profile

Summarising text is a ChatGPT strength and it can be used to write your personal profile or even a LinkedIn summary. Assuming your CV is in the best possible shape, ChatGPT can extract key details to form an impactful personal profile.

Here is an example CV prompt for creating a personal profile:

“Can you please review my CV and create a 100-word personal profile/personal statement for the CV, bearing in mind that I am looking for an Assistant Store Manager job?”

The output from ChatGPT was rather jumbled. It lifted exact sentences from the CV which resulted in repetition rather than rephrasing, and then added a note to say it ought to be tailored to the job description.

Certainly! Here's a concise 100-word personal profile/personal statement for your CV, tailored for an Assistant Store Manager position:

Personal Profile/Personal Statement:

Results-driven retail professional with a proven track record in customer service and operations. Skilled in complaint resolution, cross-selling, and team leadership. A natural communicator with strong interpersonal skills, I excel at building positive relationships with customers, colleagues, and stakeholders. With a keen eye for organisation and attention to detail, I deliver efficient and effective services while maintaining brand reputation and competency. Adept at driving sales, optimising processes, and leading a high-performing team. Seeking an Assistant Store Manager role to leverage my skills, experience, and dedication to exceptional customer service in achieving operational excellence and driving business success.”

What ChatGPT has provided is not wrong and it's better than no personal statement, but it's by no means as polished as it could be - especially if written by a CV professional.

ChatGPT is a great piece of software for day-to-day heavy lifting. But the AI software is full of vulnerabilities, which makes you vulnerable too if you're relying on it to write your CV. To see if your AI-generated CV is up to the mark, submit it for a free CV review, or cut to the chase and enlist the help of a professional CV writing service.

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