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  1. Blog
  2. Finding a Job
  3. April 10, 2024

How to Confidently Use AI During Your Job Search

Plus, example prompts to try

woman using AI in her job search on her laptop
Photo courtesy of Meruyert Gonullu
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This article is part of InHerSight's Finding a Job series. Discover our most popular and relevant resources for finding a job fast—at a company that cares as much about your career as you do.

Over the past three years, generative artificial intelligence (AI) has been touted as a rapidly growing technology capable of changing the future of work. Perceptions of AI’s impact are scattered, with some workers worrying AI bots will eventually make jobs obsolete—65 percent of employees worry AI will replace their job—and other workers embracing AI as an advantageous time and effort saver.

If you’re in the apprehensive camp, know you’re not alone. It’s normal to be intimidated by new technologies, but with the right knowledge and practice, AI can be an incredible tool in your career, and especially so in your job search. 

AI tools and bots can play many roles—proofreader, idea generator, mentor, critic, assistant, etc. AI is able to match jobseekers with opportunities, provide personalized resume and cover letter recommendations, and help candidates identify their strengths and areas for improvement to boost their competitiveness in the job market.

According to InHerSight research, 60 percent of job seekers have not used AI in their job search, but are open to trying it. We asked Brianne Latthitham, a career strategist dedicated to helping professionals thrive in the workplace, how job seekers can confidently use AI to optimize and streamline their job search process. 

Read more: If You Can’t Find a Job, Do This to Fix Your Search

What is AI, and how can you use it in your job search?

If you haven’t used AI yet, you might be wondering, what even is it?

Basically, AI is a type of computer science that enables machines to perform tasks that would typically require human intelligence. It works by analyzing algorithms and large amounts of data to learn from patterns, make predictions, and solve problems. AI essentially allows machines to mimic human cognitive functions such as learning, reasoning, and decision-making. This means you can give the bots a prompt or ask it a question, and it scans data to provide a relevant response. 

If you’re looking for a job, think of it as your personal job hunt mentor. It’s there to guide you through the process and supplement the ideation and development of your professional toolkit and application process. AI can also analyze market trends, provide insights into specific industries, and even offer personalized suggestions for skill development tailored to your career goals and aspirations. InHerSight data shows that of jobseekers who have used AI during the job search process, 58 percent say it’s most useful for career exploration (21 percent) and updating their professional toolkit (37 percent).

Some popular AI tools for job searching include:

When to use AI in your job search: 5 pivotal times AI helps the most

1. Building a resume

Keywords are one of the most important building blocks of your resume. Applicant tracking systems (ATS) like Greenhouse and Workable use AI to screen and rank resumes based on their relevance to the job posting. In order to increase your chances of getting a callback, including relevant keywords from job descriptions in your resume increases the likelihood of your resume reaching human reviewers. 

“When it comes to searching for jobs, the biggest issue I see with resumes is a lack of personalization to the job or company people are applying to,” Latthitham says. “You can leverage AI to increase efficiency to streamline and automate how you do that. Give really specific prompts to ChatGPT and upload PDFs. Say, ‘Here’s my resume and here’s a copy of this job posting. Can you supply five different versions of my resume that incorporate keywords that a recruiter would be looking for or an ATS would be looking for?’”

After you have a good resume outline from AI, make sure you fill in quantitative data. Hiring managers want to see numerical data related to how you’ve made an impact throughout your career. So, if your resume from an AI bot offers a bullet point that says, “significantly increased website traffic and sales leads,” you can tailor it to say, “increased website traffic by 25 percent and attracted 15 percent more sales leads.” Latthitham says, “At the end of the day, you know your experience best. People shouldn’t interpret AI as the holy grail, but as a tool to prepare.” 

You can also use AI tools for improving your general vocabulary and grammar. “Action verbs are key in your resume,” Latthitham says. “Ask AI how you can incorporate stronger verbs that are less generic. Many people don’t understand how iterative and dynamic AI can be. You can really define it.”

Some example resume-related prompts include: 

  • "What are the most relevant keywords or skills missing from my resume for the job I'm targeting?"

  • "Can you suggest any improvements to the formatting or layout of my resume to make it more visually appealing and easier to read?"

  • "Based on my career objectives, which experiences or accomplishments should I highlight more prominently on my resume?"

  • "How can I tailor my resume to better align with the specific requirements of this organization I'm interested in?"

  • "Are there any redundant or unnecessary details on my resume that I should consider removing to make it more concise and impactful?"

2. Optimizing a cover letter

AI can serve as a valuable tool throughout the cover letter writing process, from initial drafting to final revisions. AI can analyze and optimize an existing cover letter to ensure it’s professional, engaging, and free from errors or provide new cover letter templates tailored to different industries, job roles, and levels of experience. AI-generated cover letters should serve as a foundational framework and outline for crafting more personalized letters.

“You can ask AI to write a cover letter but the more specific you are, the better it’ll be. Be specific with the tone and length,” says Latthitham. “Refine it 10 times. Back and forth conversation can really improve it. When you have the final version, you can then go through and ask, “How can I phrase this in a way that’s more succinct?’”

Here are some prompt examples to use when crafting your cover letter:

  • “Act like you're an applicant tracking system. Based on the information about Company ABC and their job description, what are the most important keywords I should include when writing my cover letter?”

  • “Are there any grammar or punctuation errors in my cover letter that need correction?”

  • “Can you provide feedback on the overall structure and flow of my cover letter to ensure it captures the reader's attention and maintains their interest?”

  • “Here’s my resume and cover letter. Does my cover letter effectively address any potential gaps or discrepancies in my resume?”

  • “Write a cover letter for this communications specialist role in a professional, conversational tone, using my attached resume as a reference.”

3. Prepping for an interview

AI can help job seekers prepare for interviews by providing guidance on common interview questions, techniques, and best practices. It can analyze job descriptions and company profiles to predict the types of questions you might be asked during the interview. This analysis can help you prepare targeted responses and anticipate potential topics of discussion.

“Use AI as a mock interview,” Latthitham suggests. “You can attach your resume and say, ‘I'm applying to this software engineer job. Help me prepare for this interview. What are 20 questions I might be asked during an interview? Be specific about my experience.’”

Here are more prompts to help you prepare for an interview:

  • “What are some common interview questions for [specific job role or industry] that I should prepare for? Can you also provide sample answers?”

  • “What are some strategies for answering behavioral interview questions, and can you provide examples relevant to my background?”

  • “What questions should I ask the interviewer to demonstrate my knowledge of the company and interest in the position?”

  • “How can I prepare for different types of interviews, such as phone screenings, video interviews, and in-person interviews?”

4. Creating templates for emails and ongoing communication 

AI tools can generate responses to common inquiries throughout the job search process, such as interview scheduling and follow-up emails. Figuring out how to phrase emails when expressing gratitude after an interview, requesting informational interviews, or following up on job applications, for example, can be a challenging and meticulous process, and AI can save valuable time and effort. AI tools can perform grammar and spell checks as you compose your own emails, or they can create customizable templates from scratch.

Here are five example prompts to try:

  • “Write a concise and professional email template for following up on a job application.”

  • “How can I politely decline a job offer due to salary in an email?”

  • “What are five effective email subject lines for cold outreach to potential clients in the tech industry?”

  • “How can I negotiate my salary with a hiring manager over email?”

Read more: Did You Bomb a Job Interview? These 4 Follow-Up Emails Can Keep You in the Running

5. Gaining industry insights

AI is great for researching and learning about specific companies and industry trends. It can share news and developments in certain industries or job sectors, and it can even provide information about typical salaries in certain roles. Keep in mind, though, that some AI platforms only have information up to date to a certain year and it may not be entirely current. 

Latthitham says, “If you're applying to a specific kind of company, you can inquire about the top trends or themes for that industry. If you’re applying to a marketing role, for example, you could ask, ‘What are some insights and trends that as a marketer I should be aware of? What would someone at this company care about?’”

More prompts to try include:

  • “What are the emerging technologies or innovations shaping the healthcare landscape right now?”

  • “What are the current market dynamics within the tech industry, including growth projections, key players, and competitive trends?”

  • “Can you highlight any recent research reports or industry analyses that offer valuable insights into construction industry trends?”

  • “What are the prevailing challenges or pain points facing professionals in the marketing industry, and how can job seekers position themselves to address these issues?”

Read more: Your Guide to Thoroughly Researching a Company in 2024

Using AI for your job search: 4 tips for getting good responses

1. Introduce yourself and preface your background

When writing your prompt, feel free to introduce who you are in more depth. Give the bot a bit of background on your experience so it can better customize and fine-tune the output to reflect your unique skills, experiences, and career goals. 

For example, you could say:

“I’ve been a public school teacher for over a decade, and I have skills in time management, communication, and adaptability. I also completed a recent software engineering bootcamp and have a bachelor's degree in economics. Write a cover letter explaining how my transition into software engineering reflects my commitment to embracing new challenges and leveraging my transferable skills.”

2. Ask it smart, specific prompts

Provide clear and concise information in your prompt, avoiding vague or ambiguous language that could lead to misunderstandings. When asking complex questions, provide relevant context to help the AI understand the background and purpose of your prompt. Be as specific as possible—use examples, parameters, or criteria, such as a certain length or tone you’re looking for in the response.

For example, you could tell it, “Here’s my resume. Write a 400-word cover letter for a senior communications manager position at Company ABC and highlight my experience as a communications associate,” or “Here’s a job posting at my company. I want to reconnect with a former colleague and encourage them to apply for the position. Write a polite three-paragraph email to catch-up and describe the position.” From there, you can adjust the cover letter or email template’s length, vocabulary, grammar, or tone to feel more formal, casual, confident, objective, conversational, descriptive, academic, and more.

3. Share the full description of the jobs you’re applying to

Some AI tools allow you to upload documents directly to the platform. If the tool doesn’t allow for uploads, you can copy and paste the description into the chat. AI can use the requirement bullet points to better craft your resume or cover letter. 

4. Ask the tool for multiple versions of what it’s writing

By requesting multiple versions of an answer, job seekers can explore different angles, styles, and approaches to the same question or task, allowing them to choose the one that best aligns with their personal preferences, communication style, and the specific context of their job search. 

Keep tailoring the response to fit your personality. If you ask for a cover letter template for a marketing manager position, you don’t have to use the first iteration of the letter. Ask it to revise specific sections or words and keep making tweaks and edits until you’re totally happy with it. 

Read more: How to Create Your Professional Brand (& Love It)

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