At one time, a cover letter accompanying your resume was a standard requirement for most job applications. Its purpose was to express your motivation to join the company and identify and highlight your qualifications in a professional, concise format.
Today, with the use of ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems), some employers don’t require cover letters and others consider cover letters optional. If there is an opportunity to submit a cover letter, we encourage you to do so. In such cases, a well-written cover letter will increase your chances over other applicants. It demonstrates your “why” for applying, highlights your qualifications, it is another opportunity to include some key words and finally display your communications skills.
One further point, a cover letter can be your email content to the recruiting consultant. It doesn’t have to be an extra attachment. So, consider this if you are applying to a role directly.
Writing a cover letter can add substantial value to your application. ResumeLab indicates that 83% of surveyed decision-makers claimed that a great cover letter could secure an interview even if a resume isn’t good enough. Another research study by ResumeGo suggests that applications with cover letters explicitly tailored to the job had a 53% higher callback rate than those with no cover letter. In addition, over 70% of recruiters say the most common thing to hurt an applicant’s chances for the job is a poorly-written cover letter.
Not everyone feels strongly about their writing skills. When writing about themselves, composing an engaging, mistake-free, and tailored-to-the-job cover letter can be challenging.
So, if a cover letter is necessary or optional and you don’t have the time to compose a well-written one, should you turn to AI (Artificial Intelligence) to generate a unique cover letter?
If you’re thinking about using AI to generate a cover letter, here are some considerations:
How does AI work
AI software is a learning program. AI tools scour the intranet (via algorithms) for data based on your inputs or parameters. It then mimics what it has found and outputs something similar. This means it is not original content, but the synthesizing of content to create an original “interpretation” or copy. Some of the Open AI tools available that you may have heard of, include Chat GPT, Dall-E and Lensa.
Lack of personalization
Computer-generated content often sounds unnatural and awkward as it needs more creativity and personalization. Cover letters come out generic, follow general cover letter conventions, and will unlikely show the care you have for the company or job you are applying for. Just as you need to be a good fit for the role, you must fit within their team. AI won’t be able to show off your personality or give insight into your values
The intended tone may get lost
AI relies on existing web content, data, and algorithms to develop content. Some programs allow you to select a tone, such as professional, witty, friendly, or bold, but it still needs to be more sophisticated. For example, if you are enthusiastic about a particular subject, AI cannot express it on your behalf.
Lack of context
Cover letters provide a great way to add some context about unique circumstances surrounding your job history. For example, if you have a gap between jobs, this is a place to do it. AI understands your resume and the targeted job description but cannot produce content unique to your situation.
Quality and plagiarism
AI tools need to understand user intent and may require a more common sense of human behaviour. Since the AI tools use existing data for content, they cannot develop fresh ideas or original content. The worst part will be if the hiring manager receives a few similarly-written cover letters. They will be able to tell that you didn’t write the cover letter, so they might see this as an indication of laziness or unwillingness on your part.
It is not all bad when it comes to using AI for your cover letter needs. Here are some pros:
Many AI platforms allow you to enter your resume and job description into a form. Then they generate a cover letter based on the job requirements. This happens in a matter of seconds. The tools can also highlight keywords and recommended phrases.
Help you get started
Have you heard of writer’s block? Even the best of us can experience it. AI can help you overcome it with some ideas after entering keywords and the skills you want to discuss in your cover letter. If your strengths are STEM, you may have a hard time expressing yourself in a written form. AI cover letter generators can give you ideas for an opening paragraph that you can tailor to your resume and job requirements.
Is English your second language? AI tools can also assist with checking grammar and correcting spelling mistakes. They can also translate content into different languages. It may not be perfect, but it can give you an optimized cover letter.
AI-generated content is becoming popular; but it is still in its early days of development. You need more than generic and broad cover letters to help you stand out and get an interview. Human editing and quality checks are still recommended. If you need help getting started, AI is a great way to save time and provide you with the first draft. If you are in a place where you need to submit the cover letter without personalizing it, at the very least, you should go through and make edits to fit your voice before applying. You cannot rely on AI to provide a perfect cover letter and an unperfect cover letter is worse than no cover letter. See some examples of the ChatGPT cover letters here.
For more than 46 years, Agilus has served our candidate and employer networks, connecting great job seekers with meaningful employment. We place nearly 10,000 job seekers in roles every year in Engineering, Technology, Professional/Office and Light Industrial roles. We have 100 recruiters across Canada, who can help you find your next role or help you find that new career path. For more information about Agilus, please follow us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or check out our current open roles.