The No. 1 AI mistake job seekers make, from a career expert: So many people use ChatGPT ‘in exactly the wrong way’ – CNBC

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As a leader at the education nonprofit Khan Academy, I was thrilled when ChatGPT came out in November 2022. It meant we could use generative AI to provide personalized tutoring to more kids than ever.

But as a hiring manager and cofounder of a career development business who’s trained first-gen students at CUNY and MBAs at Harvard Business School alike, I was heartbroken to see that so many job seekers were using these tools in exactly the wrong way. 

They forgot that no matter how exciting this new technology is, humans are still in charge of the hiring process. Which is why having a robot write your resume is a recipe for disaster.

But given that I wrote the literal book on using ChatGPT in your job search, I know you can still turn to AI to make your resume shine. Used properly, it can help you land the interview — and ultimately the job. 

The wrong way to use AI for your resume

In my experience, most job seekers using ChatGPT or other AI platforms begin with a prompt like “Generate a marketing resume.” This might seem like a great place to start, but it’s the biggest mistake you could make. Here’s why: 

The results are massively generic 

Take this summary, for instance:

As a hiring manager, the first thing I’m always looking for is evidence of specific accomplishments. When I scan this, though, my first thought is “Wow — this candidate is great at buzzwords, but not so great at actual marketing.” 

That’s hardly the first impression you want to make when employers spend seven seconds, on average, reviewing your resume!

ChatGPT and other AI tools are going to make stuff up 

As if that wasn’t bad enough, check out what comes next under a single job listing under the experience section:

Not only do these bullet points lack specificity (with no clear projects or outcomes), but the sheer range of skills covered is literally unbelievable. As in, I’ve never met a marketer in my two-decade career who did all of these things in one job.

So my human BS detector immediately assumes the worst: This isn’t a resume, this is a hallucination!

The right way to use AI for your resume

OK, you get the picture: Having AI generate your resume from scratch can be a fast track to rejection. But if we know that human reviewers want specificity and credibility, we can actually leverage AI to help us with those exact things.

1. Start with a draft resume written by a human (i.e., you)

Instead of asking AI to generate your resume, start with your own first draft, even if it’s in rough shape. That way, you can at least be specific and accurate about what you actually did, even if those accomplishments need a little polishing.

2. Identify and incorporate missing keywords

Go right to the source of truth. The job description was created by the hiring team to spell out the skills they’re looking for — and it contains the exact keywords you want to match.

Here’s where you turn to AI. Enter the following prompt: 

  • Which keywords from the below job description are missing from my resume? 
  • Here’s the job description: [Paste the job description here] 
  • And here’s my resume: [Paste the text of your resume here]

Once you’ve got a list of missing keywords, identify the ones you have experience with and prompt the AI to help you incorporate them: 

Suggest three ways to incorporate [keyword] into my resume.

3. Quantify achievements and demonstrate results

The best predictor of future performance is usually past performance, which means recruiters and hiring managers want to see real results, not just hallucinations.

So get a little nudge in the right direction with a prompt like: 

Suggest three ways to add more quantitative impact to the following bullet point: [Paste your bullet point here]

Now, it’s tempting to copy and paste the bullets your AI platform suggests straight into your resume. But make sure you’re editing the text to match your actual accomplishments. For instance, maybe you generated $300,000 in donations, not $500,000 like the AI spit out, or your organization actually measures growth quarterly rather than monthly.

4. Review, review, review!

Always proofread your resume before submitting it. If you’ve used AI, it’s all the more important to review every last word and number to make sure everything’s 100% accurate. 

The last thing you want is to be sitting in a final-round interview and have your prospective boss’s boss’s boss ask you about a resume bullet the AI fabricated and you forgot to update!

Jeremy Schifeling is the founder of The Job Insiders, which provides career technology training for hundreds of top universities and business schools. He is also the author of “Career Coach GPT: The Complete Guide to ChatGPT Resume, Cover Letter, Interview, and Job Search Success” and shares his latest career and AI hacks on LinkedIn.

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