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A job applicant smiles across the table at a hiring manager, who holds her résumé.

Students can get a leg up in their career exploration and résumé writing using ChatGPT.

Tima Miroshnichenko/Pexels

ChatGPT has shaken the higher education world, changing classroom assignments, college applications and the process of landing a first job. Career services professionals are looking at ways to advise and equip students to use ChatGPT for career exploration, job hunting or writing cover letters and résumés.

ChatGPT at work: An April TimelyCare survey found 59 percent of graduating seniors had used ChatGPT for résumé-writing assistance.

Harrison Hughes, a Washington State University career coach and academic adviser, estimates around 30 percent of students he’s met with since November have shared that they used ChatGPT. Most of the students who have used ChatGPT for résumé or cover letters have also used it for other purposes, and many are more literate with the tool than Hughes is, he admits.

Kasturi Gavali, a master’s student at Claremont Graduate University and student employee in the career and professional development office, says she uses ChatGPT for writing her résumé qualifications, or creating generalized statements, which she then edits, often with help from peer career consultants.

“I get really bored to write about my job experience. I’ve always procrastinated working on my résumé,” Gavali says.

One of those consultants, Zachary Swanson, a Ph.D. student at CGU, says ChatGPT usage in résumé writing has help lighten his workload because it automates some of the information needed in his role. However, very rarely are students who use career center services prepared to that level.

A helping hand: Career services professionals can use AI in a variety of settings to supplement their work:

  • Hughes finds ChatGPT is most beneficial for those who have a “functional” résumé but just need expansion or a shifted focus for a specific job or more cohesive sentences. 
  • AI can assist in improving résumé language, whether that’s writing cohesive sentences, finding synonyms and actionable verbs, or generating bullet points.  
  • ChatGPT is also useful for career exploration and identifying job titles for the kind of work students are interested in, Swanson says. It can also highlight companies or industries that align with students’ goals.  
  • For bilingual students, ChatGPT can translate résumés or cover letters into their desired language.
  • AI can also be used for interview preparation, giving real-time feedback on students’ behavior and language in a simulated environment.  
  • As an added bonus, working with ChatGPT can also enhance technology skills, which is a benefit to a student’s job hunt.  

As with most ChatGPT usage, what’s most critical in the process is the prompt, Gavali and Swanson stress. To achieve the best results, students should be specific in their language, provide plenty of detail about what they are looking for and continue to engage with the chat bot until it produces the right results.

A word of warning: For any student who is interested in using ChatGPT for career services, professionals advise being cautious in that process. Specifically, students should:

  • Assume bias. ChatGPT, like people, has biases that can appear in its outcomes. The tool holds biases against language and politics, as well as race and gender, and often repeats them in “less nuanced ways,” Hughes says.
  • Protect personal information. ChatGPT is not a confidential tool, meaning any personal information (like work experience, addresses or schooling) can be saved and used by the machine in other ways. Students should not share any private information when using ChatGPT.  
  • Check the output. ChatGPT is not 100 percent accurate and sometimes invents information or lies. For a student expanding on personal skills and abilities, they should edit ChatGPT to ensure all information provided is reflective of their work experiences or learning. 
  • Realize that humanity is still needed. AI filters can flag text that sounds devoid of emotion or tone, and “it’s very easy to look and tell that it’s been generated by ChatGPT,” Gavali says. Students should be sure to add back some personal flairs before sending off résumés or cover letters.  
  • Know your résumé. Sometimes, a student assumes the document is just a piece of paper to get them in the door to a job, Hughes says. In reality, a résumé provides a reference sheet for employers in an interview and if a student is not familiar with the AI-assisted bullet points, that could cause problems for them as they move through the hiring process.  

Do you have a career success tip that might help others encourage student success? Tell us about it.

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