Cover letters have been a staple of job applications for decades, but in recent years, they have become the subject of much debate. Some argue that a well-crafted cover letter — a professional introduction that goes along with your CV resume in many job applications — can be a powerful tool to help job seekers stand out from the competition, while others contend that they are no longer necessary. 74% of recruitment decision-makers prefer to receive job applications that include cover letters aside from the standard resume.
Regardless of which side you fall on, one thing is clear: ChatGPT — a language model developed by OpenAI that can write convincing human-like text — is changing the game. Using ChatGPT to write cover letters can be effective, with up to 59% of job seekers who used ChatGPT to write cover letters reportedly being hired.
In this post, we'll explore the debate surrounding the importance of personalised cover letters and give you some tips for crafting a standout cover letter — with a little help from our friend ChatGPT, of course.
Are cover letters worth it?
According to ResumeLab, 83% of recruiters and hiring managers view cover letters as important when evaluating job applicants. Despite the advances in technology that have revolutionised the job application process, the debate over the importance of personalised cover letters rages on. Some argue that in the age of algorithms and applicant tracking systems, a cover letter is no longer necessary, while others maintain that a well-crafted cover letter can be the key to landing your dream job.
While not every employer requires a cover letter, certain surveys suggest that including one can give you an edge over other applicants. In a poll by CareerBuilder, nearly 50% of hiring managers said that a cover letter helps them decide which candidates to invite for an interview. It strongly suggests that you are willing to go the extra mile and take the time to explain why you are the best fit for the job.
Introduction to ChatGPT and its role in cover letter writing — or any writing, honestly
Here are some examples of prompts that you could give ChatGPT to ensure you get the best response possible:
- “Can you help me highlight my experience in [specific skill or industry] and how it relates to the position I'm applying for?”
- “I want to showcase my problem-solving skills. Can you give me some language to use that demonstrates this?”
- “I'm not sure how to address my employment gap in my cover letter. Can you provide some suggestions for how to explain this in a positive way?”
- “I want my cover letter to have a friendly, conversational tone. Can you help me achieve this while still maintaining a professional image?”
By providing specific prompts like these, you can help guide ChatGPT to generate a cover letter that truly showcases your unique skills and experiences, and helps you stand out in the job application process.
Overall, ChatGPT is a powerful tool that can help you write a personalised, engaging cover letter that showcases your unique skills and experience. With just a few clicks, you can create a standout cover letter that impresses hiring managers and helps you stand out from the competition. So why not give it a try and see how ChatGPT can take your cover letter to the next level?
Tips for crafting a standout cover letter thanks to ChatGPT
1. Start with a strong opening sentence
The first sentence of your cover letter is arguably the most important. It needs to grab the reader's attention and make them want to read on. With ChatGPT, you can generate a variety of opening sentences based on your industry, job role, and experience. For example, you could start with something like:
“As an experienced software engineer with a passion for innovation, I am excited to apply for the position of Senior Developer at XYZ Company.”
This sentence immediately highlights your experience and passion for the role, setting the tone for the rest of your cover letter.
2. Use industry-specific language
When crafting your cover letter with ChatGPT, make sure to use industry-specific language that demonstrates your knowledge and expertise. A study by ResumeGo found that applicants who submitted a tailored cover letter were 53% more likely to receive a job interview. Avoid generic phrases and buzzwords that could apply to any industry. For example, instead of saying “I have excellent communication skills”, try something like: “As a skilled communicator and collaborator, I have experience leading cross-functional teams to deliver complex projects on time and on budget.” This not only showcases your communication skills but also highlights your experience working in a team environment.
3. Provide specific examples of your achievements
Rather than simply listing your skills and experience, use ChatGPT to provide specific examples of your achievements in previous roles. This could include projects you led, the revenue you generated, or awards you received. For example: “In my previous role as a UX Designer at ABC Company, I led a redesign project that resulted in a 20% increase in user engagement and a 15% increase in revenue over six months.” By providing specific examples, you demonstrate your ability to deliver results and add value to the company.
4. Keep it concise and focused
While it's important to provide enough detail to showcase your skills and experience, you also need to keep your cover letter concise and focused. Use ChatGPT to help you stay on track and avoid rambling or going off-topic. For example:
This paragraph is focused and to the point, highlighting the most significant aspects of your experience and why you're a good fit for the role. If you prefer to go old-school, you can write the letter yourself, and ask ChatGPT to edit what you’ve written to make it cleaner and more concise.
A mass cover letter writer
For job seekers applying to multiple positions, ChatGPT can also help create mass customised cover letters. Once you've got a good template, you can feed that to GPT and create variations to quickly send off. You can paste the text into GPT and ask it to replace the company name or adjust the content to a specific industry or skill set. One agile way to do this is to indicate the modifiable fields with  symbols and instruct the chat to write the correct name within each  field. For example, you can prompt:
Please change the fields that are enclosed with  symbols with the following terms:
[Hiring Manager's Name]: Richard S. Fuld Jr.
[Position]: Mortgage-Based Securities Expert
[Company Name]: Lehman Brothers
[Your Title]: Snake-Oil Seller
Dear [Hiring Manager's Name],
I am writing to express my interest in the [Position] at [Company Name]. As an experienced [Your Title] with a proven track record in...
This approach saves time while maintaining a personalised touch. You’ll also save years of your life since the chat will check if Lehman is spelt correctly for you.
Dos and don’ts for ChatGPT cover letter composing
While ChatGPT can be a powerful tool for cover letter writing, there are some dos and don’ts to keep in mind to get the best results.
- Keep it concise: Employers receive hundreds of applications for each job opening, so it's important to keep your cover letter concise and to the point. Aim for around 300–500 words.
- Highlight your relevant experience: Make sure to highlight your relevant experience and skills in your cover letter. This will show the employer that you have the necessary qualifications to excel in the role.
- Personalise your letter: While ChatGPT can help you create a personalised cover letter, it's indispensable to make sure that it remains genuine. Be sure to include details that are specific to you and your experience.
- Use generic or vague language that could apply to any industry or role.
- Ramble or go off-topic, as this can make your cover letter less effective (cut the fat!).
- Rely too heavily on ChatGPT to do all the work — make sure to review and edit your cover letter to ensure it is personal and genuine.
With these tips and dos and don’ts in mind, you can use ChatGPT to create a standout cover letter that showcases your skills, experience, and personality in a unique and compelling way.
Examples of compelling cover letters created with ChatGPT
To give you an idea of what a compelling cover letter created with ChatGPT looks like, here are some examples of prompts and the ChatGPT responses:
“Write a cover letter for a software developer job, showcasing your skills and experience in the field. Explain why you're a good fit for the position, and what you can bring to the company. Be sure to highlight any relevant projects or achievements that demonstrate your expertise in software development.”
“Dear Hiring Manager,
I am writing to apply for the Software Developer position at your company. As an experienced software developer with a passion for creating innovative solutions, I believe that my skills and experience make me an excellent candidate for this role.
With over 5 years of experience in software development, I have a proven track record of delivering high-quality solutions in a timely manner. My expertise lies in designing and developing software applications using a range of programming languages, including Java, Python, and C++. I have an in-depth understanding of software development methodologies such as Agile and Scrum, and I am skilled in using a range of development tools, including Git, JIRA, and Jenkins.
In my current role at XYZ Inc., I have led the development of several successful software products, including a web-based inventory management system that has improved efficiency and reduced costs for our clients. I have also worked on projects that involve machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision. My experience in these areas has allowed me to develop a strong understanding of the latest trends and technologies in software development.
I am excited about the opportunity to bring my skills and experience to your company. I am confident that my strong problem-solving skills, attention to detail, and ability to work collaboratively with a team make me an excellent fit for your organisation. I am also eager to continue learning and growing in my role as a software developer, and I am excited about the prospect of working on cutting-edge projects at your company.
Thank you for considering my application. I look forward to the opportunity to further discuss my qualifications with you.
You can then ask ChatGPT to edit its own response. For example, in this same conversation, a second prompt could be:
“Rewrite the letter in a fast-paced tone, remaining professional. Shorten it (no more than 150 words) and write about what you can contribute to the company.”
Dear Hiring Manager,
I am thrilled to apply for the Software Developer role at your company. With over 5 years of experience in developing software applications, I have a track record of delivering high-quality solutions in a timely manner. My expertise lies in programming languages like Java, Python, and C++, and I'm well-versed in Agile and Scrum methodologies.
At XYZ Inc., I led the development of a web-based inventory management system, resulting in improved efficiency and reduced costs for our clients. I also worked on projects involving machine learning, natural language processing, and computer vision.
As a team player with strong problem-solving skills and attention to detail, I'm excited to contribute to your organisation's success. I'm eager to work on cutting-edge projects and committed to learning and growth as a software developer. Thank you for considering my application. I'm looking forward to discussing my qualifications with you.
In the age of ChatGPT, a well-crafted cover letter can still be a powerful tool to help job seekers stand out from the competition. While the debate surrounding the importance of personalised cover letters continues, it's clear that including one can give you an edge over other applicants. With the help of ChatGPT, you can create a personalised and compelling cover letter in a matter of minutes.
By following the tips outlined in this post, you can ensure that your cover letter stands out from the rest. Use specific examples to illustrate your experience, keep it concise, highlight your relevant skills, and personalise it to make it genuine. With these tips in mind, you'll be well on your way to landing your dream job.