How to Use ChatGPT in Your Job Search, with Nicole Blevins

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Are you afraid of using new technology in your job search? Don’t be, says Find Your Dream Job guest Nicole Blevins. ChatGPT is a tool that can help you be more efficient and can give you the information you need to find the perfect fit. Nicole says ChatGPT can save you hours when creating cover letters and resumes. She also recommends using it to research positions, salary ranges, and sample interview questions. The best way to get comfortable with ChatGPT is to play around with it, learn as much as you can, and discover how it can best help you in your job search. 

About Our Guest:

Nicole Blevins is the HR training services manager at Xenium HR.

Resources in This Episode:


Find Your Dream Job, Episode 442:

How to Use ChatGPT in Your Job Search, with Nicole Blevins

Airdate: March 20, 2024

Mac Prichard:

This is Find Your Dream Job, the podcast that helps you get hired, have the career you want, and make a difference in life.

I’m your host, Mac Prichard. I’m also the founder of Mac’s List. It’s a job board in the Pacific Northwest that helps you find a fulfilling career.

Every Wednesday, I talk to a different expert about the tools you need to get the work you want.

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There’s only so much time in a day.

Especially when you look for work.

ChatGPT can help you get more done in less time.

But, like any tool, you need to know how to use it well.

Nicole Blevins is here to talk about how to use ChatGPT in your job search.

She’s the HR training services manager at Xenium HR.

Her company helps small and midsize employers with HR and payroll services.

Nicole joins from Tualatin, Oregon.

Well, let’s jump right into it, Nicole. For listeners who are not familiar with it, it’s…I think ChatGPT has been around for about a year now. What is ChatGPT, exactly?

Nicole Blevins:

Yeah, ChatGPT has actually been around since about 2020. But, I think it just started getting popular within the last year, and people are learning more about it and finding out what it is to be a tool that they can actually use.

But essentially, it’s an artificial intelligence, AI chat bot, and it has a massive data set from pretty much all different kinds of information, you can imagine, that’s available on the internet, and other means that it’s preloaded with, and it uses that information, and its knowledge and data set, to analyze requests in a chat. You submit a chat to it. It analyzes your request and uses its knowledge to generate a response or text to meet whatever you’re asking it to do or whatever your need is.

And so, it’s a really effective tool for you to be able to generate text-based things in your job search, such as bullet points for your resume, a summary, a cover letter. It can even generate interview questions for you to really be able to see what type of interview questions you could potentially be asked if you are applying for a job in marketing or different types of roles to help prepare you for that interview.

Mac Prichard:

You gave examples of some of the products that ChatGPT can produce during a job search. Tell us, Nicole, why a job seeker should use ChatGPT at all.

Nicole Blevins:

Yeah, well, I think efficiency is really important. I think anyone that’s ever searched for a job or is currently in a job search process knows that it’s essentially like a job in and of itself to search for a job. It takes a lot of time and effort looking for those jobs.

And then, when you’re applying, you want to make sure that your resume is accurately reflecting your skills and experience and aligns with what that organization is looking for. You have to have multiple cover letters for those jobs in a lot of circumstances.

And so, it really does save you a lot of time in that process to be able to have something to work off of and not have all the stress and pressure during that process to think of something that’s really going to wow that company and make you stand out as a candidate when you’re applying. And so, it allows you to do that. It’s more efficient.

It allows your messaging to be consistent, too. So, if you’re able to generate in the same way, you’re having that consistent, repetitive process of is going to shine through in the interview process or in the application process, as well.

So, I think the time savings is really the big one. And just having that more stress-free experience a little bit when you’re applying for jobs.

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned ChatGPT has been around for about two years now, two or three years. How common is it for job seekers to use ChatGPT right now?

Nicole Blevins:

I would say it’s about fifty-fifty from what I’ve been seeing. It’s definitely becoming more popular, I would say, in that last year here. I’m definitely seeing people use it more. People are telling me that they’ve used it more. I’m seeing just more conversation about it, in general.

But I would say there’s still a large portion of the job market of people that just don’t really know what it is, have never heard of ChatGPT, don’t know that it’s available to them as a tool or a resource. Or maybe they know of it, but they never thought from the perspective of how I could use this in my job search, or how this could help me find a job, or make my life easier when I’m going through that very stressful and overwhelming process.

And so, I would say it’s about fifty-fifty. And I think it’s also about how to use it well, and I have had experiences with ChatGPT. I’m very familiar with the platform at this point and have been using it for a while. And so, I’m able to kind of pick up when a candidate is using ChatGPT, versus when they’re not. So I’d love for us to get into that a little bit as well. But I would say it’s pretty split still.

Mac Prichard:

Okay, well I do want to talk about how to use ChatGPT in your job search. But, to your point a moment ago, what do recruiters, hiring managers like you think about candidates who are using the tool now?

Nicole Blevins:

Yeah, I think that’s a big question because I would say that that is also pretty split. You know, there are people in HR, or in the recruitment field, that perceive it as, “Oh, you’re taking a shortcut in the process,” but I would say the vast majority, especially for recruiters or HR professionals like myself, that have that experience and exposure with using ChatGPT and understand it as a powerful tool, really see it as a positive for the candidate in terms of, “You know how to utilize your resources. You know how to be efficient. And if I hire you to come into my organization, you’re going to have the know-how and able to really utilize your resources to be super efficient and effective in the job that you’re doing in my organization.” So, I think there’s that.

There’s, of course, the other coin where there are some professionals out there that still are like, “Well, that’s cutting corners,” or that’s cheating a bit in the process, and I really believe strongly that people are coming around to it. They’re understanding the power of the tool and that you don’t want to use the tool to just spit you out something and you kind of use that and move forward.

There is still a portion of work that you have to do to really make it your own. Personalize it, really make sure that it’s reflecting who you are before you’re just going to move forward in the process but I would say it’s really growing. People are understanding it more as a tool, and HR professionals like myself want to see people using it more, and it’s a good sign for what’s to come if they were to be hired into the organization later.

Mac Prichard:

Well, let’s talk about how to use ChatGPT when you’re looking for work. I know one of your first is that you gotta understand what ChatGPT is and how it works. Tell us more about why this matters, Nicole.

Nicole Blevins:

If you don’t understand what ChatGPT is and how it works, how to, you know, put the prompts in there to really be able to get what you’re looking for, then it’s going to be extra work in your job search process rather than something that’s going to make your life easier and more efficient and make things quicker. So, understanding that it can be used and how to prompt in there, not just, “Give me a cover letter,” or, “Give me some resume bullets,” or things like that, but how to really personalize it and customize it to your needs is going to be extremely important.

Understanding how it works, in terms of when you give it that prompt what it’s going to spit back out to you, is going to allow you to leverage that tool and technology in a greater way and be able to really impress the organization that you’re applying for a job with or that you really want to get this opportunity that you’ve been waiting for.

Mac Prichard:

It’s really an iterative process, isn’t it, Nicole? It’s not one-and-done; you can’t just ask one question and get the ideal product, can you?

Nicole Blevins:

No, it’s a Chatbot, so it really is meant to be a conversation, and so you might initially say, “Draft me a resume for this marketing specialist role,” and then you might get some response, and you read that, and you go, “That’s not quite what I was thinking of in my head.”

And you do have the opportunity to really continue to have that conversation and give it more feedback and say, “Can you update this to be a little longer,” or shorter if it’s not meeting the length of what you expected. Or to really respond in that same chat feature and say, “Can you make this sound more enthusiastic about the role itself and the opportunity to work for XYZ company.”

And so, it’s meant to be a conversation, and the more you use it in that way, I think, the more you learn about how ChatGPT works and how it interprets you questions and your directions, and that’s really what’s going to help you learn how to give better prompts over time and how to better get what you’re looking for.

Mac Prichard:

Well, this is terrific.

Let’s take a break, and stay with us. When we come back, Nicole Blevins will continue to share her advice on how to use ChatGPT in your job search.

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Now, let’s get back to the show.

We’re back in the Mac’s List studio. I’m talking with Nicole Blevins.

She’s the HR training services manager at Xenium HR.

Her company helps small and midsize employers with HR and payroll services.

She joins from Tualatin, Oregon.

Nicole, before the break, we were talking about how to use ChatGPT in your job search, and you were making the point that you’re having a conversation with a Chatbot, and one answer alone probably isn’t going to give you what you need.

How do you recommend learning how to write prompts, Nicole? For people who are new at this, what are some of your tips about how to write good prompts so you can get the answers that you need?

Nicole Blevins:

The more you use ChatGPT and play around with it, the easier it starts to become, and you really start to pick up on how you’re going to get the best results. But I have a couple of examples that I could share.

When you’re chatting with ChatGPT, and you want it to spit out a cover letter for you, you have to remember that ChatGPT has no context or history about you and your particular work experience and the role that you’re trying to get, so the more information you can give it upfront and the specific you can be about all of those things, the more customized the draft it’s going to give you and the more specific to your needs.

You know, the example I shared before of just saying, “Hey, give me a cover letter” versus getting really specific about, “I am an HR professional that has been working in the field for ten years. I have this certification…” You know, sharing information about yourself and then saying after that, “I’d like for you to draft me a cover letter for an HR specialist role at a company, highlighting my experience in HR and my enthusiasm about the organization’s culture,” if that’s maybe something that has really stood out to you about that company and why you want to work there.

Then, when you submit that, you’re going to get a very robust explanation that includes more specific information that’s relevant to you, that talks about the company’s culture, and that that’s one of the reasons you’d be a really good fit for that position or want to work there, versus if you just say, “Can you give me a cover letter for an HR specialist job?”

It’s going to be very generic, not customized to you, and is not going to get you the results that you’re looking for to help you stand out in the hiring process.

That’s a really good example about how making it as specific as possible, giving it as much information about yourself, what you’re looking for, what interests you about the role, that type of thing, is going to get you the best results.

Mac Prichard:

Let’s dig into that example some more. Again, thinking about applying for a specific job, you need help drafting that cover letter; how much information do you recommend giving ChatGPT?

For example, would you suggest actually feeding in the position description or providing the full text of your resume? What have you seen work and not work, Nicole?

Nicole Blevins:

Yeah, you can absolutely do that, and you can give it as much information as you’re willing to give it and comfortable giving it. It’s not limited to your characters or anything like that, so I would say the job description, putting that information in there, is really helpful because then it can get you a really specific and customized cover letter.

I would say you also want to be careful with that because when you do put the job description in there, it’s going to give you a cover letter about how you meet all of these qualifications in there when that may not be the reality, so there is still that effort you have to put into reading that information, reviewing it, and then editing it yourself a little bit to really speak to what your skills and experience are.

The job description might say that they want someone, let’s say it’s a marketing position, someone with SEO experience or something like that, and if you don’t have that experience, the cover letter draft, based on the job description you provided, might say, “I have X amount of years of SEO experience,” but that might not be the reality for you, right? So, you don’t want to be untruthful in this process, so you want to edit that and customize that, or just chat in there and say, “Hey ChatGPT, I don’t have SEO experience. Can you update the draft to remove reference to that?” And it’ll do it for you.

Mac Prichard:

So give specific directions to ChatGPT about what you would like the final result to be, provide information like position descriptions and your resume.

Are there other practices that you’ve seen that have been effective when using ChatGPT to create cover letters or other job search documents like resumes?

Nicole Blevins:

You know, the more you chat back and forth with it as a conversation is a big tip I would provide because I think people use it, they give their information upfront, it spits out something, and they feel like that’s the end of that and they just have to take that and maybe play with it themselves. Where you really can continue that conversation and say, “Can you remove reference to this? Can you add more about my experience in this particular industry?” (In the healthcare industry if it’s a healthcare role or something like that.)

Being able to really continue that conversation to get it to be more specific to you, but I would say, you want to add your own personality in there as well, you know? You might add some information about tone. “I want this cover letter or this documentation to show that I’m confident in my ability to do this role, but I also want to be modest about my skills or experience.” Or you might say, “I want my enthusiasm or my creativity to show in this cover letter as well.

Adding those more nuanced things can also really customize it to your unique personality as well, or how you want to show up or come across to your potential future employer as well.

Mac Prichard:

You mentioned that you shouldn’t take the first draft and send it out, whatever ChatGPT produces. What are some other mistakes that you would encourage first-timers to avoid and pay attention to?

Nicole Blevins:

Yeah, I think a lot of people that do use it will take that first draft and send it off and make the mistake of maybe not reading through it all the way, and what ChatGPT does is, if you don’t give it a lot of that information upfront, it’s still going to get you a good draft because it wants to deliver a good result for you and give you what you’re asking for, but it might have a section that’s like, “Insert company name here.” Or, “Insert number of years of experience here” in brackets.

What I’ve seen people do is take that and send it off to an employer and, of course, on the HR side or the recruiter side, when they receive that, they’re going to see that and say, “Okay, this person didn’t put any effort into this. I can clearly see that this is something that was generated from ChatGPT.” And when you don’t put your personality or flair in it too, ChatGPT does have a very unique sound or tone, I would say, in that it is a chatbot, so it is a robot, and it does come across as very robotic, for lack of a better term, in that it just comes across as very monotonous if you don’t give it those added details or the tone or how you want to come across as well.

You know, I’ve seen things or reviewed things where I’ve read them, and I’m like, “This definitely sounds like ChatGPT generated it.” And that’s when it feels like you’re maybe not putting that effort in or making some mistakes in how you’re utilizing that tool, which can come across as a negative to some people, but if you use it as a powerful tool to really help aid you in your process so that you’re not thinking about, “Am I grammatically correct in what I’m writing here, what I’m putting?” But more trying to highlight your experience, your personality, and what you’re looking for, then I think that’s when you’re really going to be successful and could avoid those mistakes of just not reading it through, not editing it and inserting your years of experience or the company name that you’re applying for and things of that nature.

Mac Prichard:

We’ve talked about using ChatGPT to help with writing cover letters and resumes, but it’s also a research tool, isn’t it, Nicole? Give us examples; I know, in the first segment, you mentioned generating interview questions, for example, but give us examples of how you can use ChatGPT for research when you’re doing a job search.

Nicole Blevins:

Yeah, you can absolutely use it for researching things, and the researching potential interview questions, I think, is a really great example of how that might be used as a research tool in the process.

Another thing that I think it’s really great for is if you are maybe not sure of what you want to do in terms of a next career option or stop, it’s a really great way to just chat with ChatGPT about that, in terms of, you know, “Here’s where I’m at in my career, I’m really interested in the Healthcare industry,” or “I’m really good at social media stuff,” or whatever you would like to explore. “What are some jobs that fit those skills or that fit those things that I would be interested in?”

And it can list out for you different job possibilities that you maybe hadn’t considered before, and then if there’s one that piques your interest, you could say, “Tell me more about what a job as a paralegal would look like.” Or whatever that job is and it will give you some more details about what a paralegal typically does or even compensation. You can even ask it, “What is a typical salary range for this position?”

It’s a really powerful tool to be able to research things like that. I will just give a note of caution here as well, is ChatGPT is constantly being updated and learning and evolving, but it’s only updated with information up to a certain point in time, so I think the last time that it was updated might have been 2022, so if we’re searching today, in 2023, then the information that it’s spitting out to us might be a little bit outdated and not current with today’s date, so you do also want to keep that in the back of your mind that this is just a general reference point and not necessarily something we want to take as fact or reality at this point in time. But it’s really great to just generate those types of ideas and be able to help you to look into things a little further.

Mac Prichard:

Well, it’s been a terrific conversation, Nicole. Now tell us, what’s next for you?

Nicole Blevins:

Yeah, what’s next for me is just continuing my work at XeniumHR as the HR services training manager. And I just really love what I do, and Xenium allows me to really work with a lot of employers and employees in the area to really transform workplaces for them and help with all of their HR needs and work on some really amazing projects and work with some really great employees, so I’m loving doing that and would love to connect with anyone who wants to talk more about ChatGPT and learn about it because I’m passionate about it. It’s a powerful tool that can make a difference in a lot of different aspects of the workplace and people’s personal lives.

Mac Prichard:

Well, I know you invite listeners to connect with you on LinkedIn. When listeners do reach out to you, I hope they’ll mention that they heard you on Find Your Dream Job.

Now, Nicole, given all the great advice you’ve shared today, what’s the one thing you want a listener to remember about how to use ChatGPT in your job search?

Nicole Blevins:

I think the one thing I would say to everyone is to just not be afraid of it as a tool. I feel like a lot of people are nervous about using it because they don’t fully understand it yet and are worried what people are going to think if they find out they’ve used it in their job search process or things like that. I would just really encourage people to look into it, to play around with it, and to just not be afraid to try to learn and figure it out and see how it might help you.

You may decide it’s not for you and not what you want to use, and that’s okay, but you may decide that you absolutely love it, and it can help in so many different aspects of your career search or for you in the workplace, or you personally.

Just go for it, I would say.

Mac Prichard:

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Next week, our guest will be Sophia Wellons.

She’s a recruiter at Galois. Her company specializes in the research and development of new technologies.

Your connections with others can make a big difference in your job search.

The people you meet when you look for work can tell you about hidden jobs and give insights into what hiring managers want.

Join us next Wednesday when Sophia Wellons and I talk about how to build effective relationships when you network.

Until next time, thanks for letting us help you find your dream job.

This show is produced by Mac’s List.

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