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CareersStoriesGenerative AI for resumes and cover letters: Pros and cons
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Generative AI for resumes and cover letters: Pros and cons

Why communicating authentically—and in your own voice—is probably a better approach to writing resumes or cover letters than leveraging generative AI.

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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:

  • Is this actually the best or right approach?
  • Do the benefits outweigh the risks?
  • Might there be more compelling reasons to communicate authentically in your own voice?

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.

Overcoming obstacles, seeking inspiration

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:

  • You want to begin your cover letter with a different address than “To Whom It May Concern,” but you can’t think of a professional-sounding alternative.
  • You want to restructure your resume in order to highlight recently acquired skills and certifications, but a reverse-chronological resume is the only format you’ve ever used.
  • You want to switch industries, but you don’t know which keywords will be relevant to employers in this new field.

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.

Takeaway: Generative AI might help you work through specific obstacles that are slowing your progress, but the benefits of doing so may be limited in turn. For example, in the third bullet-point above, while generative AI can probably give you insights into what keywords people in the field are already using, that’s hardly going to help you stand out from the pack.

Reviewing templates and approaches

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:Write a template for a cover letter of approximately [length requirement] words for the job of [Job Title] at [Company] in a professional tone.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.

Takeaway: Feeling like you have the right template to begin with will probably help you write your resume or cover letter with greater confidence, but it’s going to take a lot of critical thinking and polishing if you want to make either document truly pop.


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.

Lack of alignment

Communicating multi-level alignment between applicant and employer is one of the distinguishing features of truly excellent resumes and cover letters. For example:Alignment with the values that guide decision-making at the companyAlignment with the company’s mission or cultureAlignment around the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion 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.

Takeaway: Generative AI isn’t going to take the initiative to research intangibles like the values, mission or culture of your prospective employers. You should do so on your own, instead, then incorporate what you’ve learned into how you present your candidacy.

Inaccuracies, falsehoods and outright hallucinations

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:

  • Write me a detailed resume for the position of [Job Title] at [Company], mentioning that I have substantial experience in a similar field and demonstrating how I meet each of the qualifications and requirements listed in this job description: [link to job].

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.

Takeaway: Speculations and fabrications of this kind are actually called “hallucinations” within the field of AI—and you can probably guess why—but employers are going to have zero tolerance for factual inaccuracies in job-application materials.

Use of generative AI can be detected

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.

Takeaway: Including AI-generated language in resumes and cover letters can be detected by employers, which could easily eliminate you from consideration for the role—and it’s hard to imagine a less productive outcome. This alone should be a pretty compelling reason not to rely on generative AI for job-application materials like resumes and cover letters.

Join our team today!

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.

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