Since we've reached a point where nearly half of job seekers are leveraging generative AI in one way or another for help with resumes or cover letters, it’s worth asking:
Landing your next job opportunity will be a lot easier if you read this quick rundown of the pros and cons before you click “Submit.”
With generative AI making such a big splash, it's easy to get carried away—and perhaps even to think you no longer have to write your own resume or cover letter thanks to this new tech. That's not the case, unfortunately, but it might be able to provide assistance in the scenarios outlined below.
Writing a top-notch resume or cover letter isn’t easy, and it often presents special challenges for college students, recent grads and others just starting out on their career paths. Recognizing that, we think there may be specific instances where generative AI can lend a hand—say, if you've arrived at a definite roadblock in your writing, and you need to find a way around it.
A few concrete examples of how that might come into play:
In each of these use cases, something specific seems to be keeping your progress in check, and generative AI might help point the way forward. However, you’ll still need to make substantive changes in order to make the resume or cover letter your own.
Creating functional templates for a wide variety of documents, including resumes and cover letters, is one of the simpler things that generative AI does well—and having a template in front of you probably isn’t a bad place to start.
If you’re interested in taking this kind of templated approach, you’ll need to enter the right “prompt”: short sentences or phrases that the AI model will use to generate output. You might experiment with something like the following, filling in the [placeholders] as needed:
From there, however, you'll need to refine, polish and put in a lot of critical thinking in order to arrive at a resume or cover letter that communicates what you bring to the table in your own voice.
Limited applications of generative AI in resume or cover letter writing are probably okay, as in the examples above—that is, as long as writing a resume or cover letter is an iterative, human-led process, and as long as the role of technology is to spark your own independent thinking. As you read, keep those two caveats in mind.
Communicating multi-level alignment between applicant and employer is one of the distinguishing features of truly excellent resumes and cover letters. For example:
Mind you, expressing alignment in these areas is most effectively achieved through subtle means like word choices or the ways in which accomplishments are framed, not overt statements. Done right, it’s the kind of thing that can fast-track your first-round interview.
This is an area where generative AI consistently fails. Even if you copy and paste the exact language of the job description into your prompt, for example, generative AI’s output is going to reflect that, not the broader context, like the mission of the company, around which the information should be organized.
Beware: If you enter the wrong job-related prompt or omit certain information, generative AI could completely misrepresent your candidacy, as the technology has a well-documented capacity to “misrepresent key facts with great flourish.” And in the context of job applications, where factual accuracy is of the utmost importance, that capacity could turn you into someone who you are not.
Consider a prompt like the following to get a sense of where things often go awry:
What’s wrong with this picture? For one, the lack of specificity could be interpreted by generative AI as a license to invent, resulting in a resume that in no way reflects who you are in real life.
As if inaccuracies and lack of alignment aren't serious enough issues, here’s another one: Many employers will be aware that you used generative AI to write your resume or cover letter.
This fact should give you pause. Many companies right now don’t have hard-and-fast policies governing the acceptable use of generative AI in application materials, for example, making it hard to know what’s going to happen if your resume or cover letter gets flagged—but the outcome could be bad. And with new tools like GPTZero making it easier to identify AI-generated text, the odds of that happening go up every day.
Resumes and cover letters are far from the whole story of how we hire at Johnson & Johnson, but they are pieces of it, so we hope the pros and cons above inform how you approach these documents going forward. Ultimately, we want everyone on our team to be their authentic selves—and we’re looking for resumes and cover letters that sound like it.
In the interim, if you’re eager to explore other applications of AI, such as those that are currently changing the future of health, check out all of the opportunities we’re hiring for.
Finally, be sure to sign up for our global talent community, too. It's an easy way to stay in touch, learn more about our culture and even get updates about jobs that might interest you in the future.