How to use ChatGPT to write an effective cover letter

Composing a cover letter can be difficult, mainly if you’ve never done it before or are just starting your career. Luckily, some tools make this a little less daunting such as ChatGPT. ChatGPT is an advanced AI language model created by OpenAI and a helpful co-pilot when writing a cover letter. 

This guide is meant to help you create an awesome cover letter that will help you get your first job or co-op position without just copying and pasting from a prompt.

But first some general points about cover letters…

What is the purpose of a cover letter?

Although a resume is essential, a well-crafted cover letter conveys to a prospective employer:

  • How you speak about yourself 
  • Your personality 
  • Your unique qualifications for a job
  • Your writing skills 

A cover letter overall is an opportunity to show yourself off and provide a better background for your resume. Cover letters are crucial for individuals applying for their first co-op position as a co-op letter can help you get an interview even with a lack of relevant experience.

Additionally, if done correctly a cover letter can convey to an employer whether or not you would be a good fit for their company. 

So onto writing your cover letter.

What you need before you begin writing a cover letter with ChatGPT?

  • Your resume – For ChatGPT to customize your cover letter you first need a resume. Ensure that you have your master resume on hand. You will be feeding this into ChatGPT to help write your cover letter.
  • The job description for the job you are applying for – This will help ChatGPT to tailor the cover letter for that job. ChatGPT can make your cover letter more ATS-friendly. ATS stands for “”Applicant Tracking System,”” a computer software used to see if your resume contains keywords.
  • Information about the company – Go to the company’s website to learn about its beliefs, vision, and mission. See whether there are any press releases or fresh news regarding the company and its ongoing operation. This will help when you complete your final edits of the cover letter. 
  • An account with OpenAI – ChatGPT is free; however to use their software you need to be signed up with an account. 

What are the components of the body of a cover letter?

It’s crucial that once you start writing a cover letter with ChatGPT you know what makes up a cover letter. 

Cover letters generally follow the format of:

  1. Salutation- A formal greeting that addresses the recipient by name if possible (e.g., “”Dear Mr. Smith,”” or “”Dear Hiring Manager,””). Try your best to find the name of the hiring manager to stand out from the crowd.
  2. Opening paragraph – A brief introduction that mentions the specific job you are applying for and how you learned about the job. Finished with a concise statement that establishes your interest in the position.
  3. Body of the letter – Typically one or two paragraphs where you explain why you are a strong candidate for the job. It highlights your relevant skills, qualifications and experience that match the job requirements. The area where you get the chance to shine and show off! 
  4. Closing paragraph – Used to express your enthusiasm for a position, your willingness to provide additional information or references if needed and a thank you to an employer for considering your application.

With that out of the way let’s look at how to write a cover letter with ChatGPT!

Step 1- Prep the prompt

When working with ChatGPT you always need to be as specific as possible to help it create a tailored response.

Start your ChatGPT prompt by telling you’re looking for. 

An example prompt might look like this:

I’m applying for a position in quality control at a major food processing agency as a cooperative student. Please help me write a cover letter section by section. 

If you copied the prompt above exactly then ChatGPT would provide a section-by-section template. A good starting place but we need to make it more specific.

Step 2- Provide ChatGPT with a short bio/resume

It’s time to give ChatGPT a little more information about yourself. This will help personalize the cover letter to highlight your unique skills and experience.

Here are some basic pieces of information you should include in your bio:

  • Your name – Start with your full name.
  • Your professional experience – Summarize the positions you’ve held, the companies you’ve worked for, volunteer experience, courses you have taken and any notable accomplishments.
  • Your education – Include your degrees and the institutions you’ve attended.
  • Your skills and qualifications – Focus on those relevant to the job you’re applying for.

For example, you could tell that prompt ChatGPT with the following basic bio:

I am a second-year chemistry student going to X University. I have had one position working as a crew member at a major fast food restaurant. I have taken courses in analytical chemistry, biology and English.

This prompt will create a more tailored cover letter that incorporates your bio. The more information you can provide the better able ChatGPT will be to create a specialized resume. Think of the courses you have completed in school and any places where you have achieved tangible skills. 

Be careful with the information that you provide ChatGPT. It is an excellent practice to keep specific personal details out as according to OpenAi’s privacy policy, your contact details and transaction activity might be shared with affiliates, vendors and service providers, law enforcement and parties involved in transactions.

Now onto the job description!

Step 3 – Provide ChatGPT with the job description

Now you need to provide ChatGPT with more information about the job you’re applying for.

To do this, paste the job description into your prompt.

Before prompting the job description tell ChatGPT that you would like to make sure the cover letter includes the relevant keywords and phrases from this job description to make it ATS-friendly.

This will prompt ChatGPT to generate a cover letter tailored to the specific job description and optimized for the ATS.

The over all introduction of the prompt could look like this:

Using the prior information in this chat use create an ATS friendly cover letter that focuses on my ability to effectively communicate and perform basic lab work. I will provide the job description. Here is the job description to base the cover letter on. [Provide cover letter]

Step 4- Fine-tune your ChatGPT cover letter

At this point you should have a solid cover letter but this doesn’t mean that you are finished yet. 

DO NOT copy and paste this letter as it is still a computer-generated cover letter. You need to go in and personalize it make it your own. ChatGPT could also create a cover letter that isn’t necessarily truthful. Carefully go through each line of your cover letter. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is this how I would speak?
  • Does this reflect my true abilities?
  • Would I be able to adequately speak to this if explicitly asked about this at an interview? 
  • Does this demonstrate my true abilities? 

Furthermore, make sure that the skills highlighted best demonstrate your skills and how they are relevant to the job description. Finally, don’t forget to proofread!

Ask a friend or a family member to help and get their opinion on how well you tailored cover letter to the job description. A fresh pair of eyes is a great way to combat missing mistakes which might have arisen from fatigue. 

Some things to note

Remember that this cover letter will be read by a hiring manager and that you shouldn’t lie to get the position. Even if the line sounds excellent if it doesn’t reflect your current ability then change it up. (Did you really lead a team of 10 people?).

Be realistic.

As well, don’t think that AI knows best. If you feel a line doesn’t sound right then change it up. Read the cover letter out loud and see if it sounds like you. Remember a cover letter is meant to demonstrate your personality. After all, a human is going to be taking on this position not some AI.

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