Cover letters written by ChatGPT and other Artificial Intelligence programmes: the results, dangers, and what to do if you’ve submitted one

We’re recruiting! See this blog post for information about becoming a Bristol Futures Student Advocate for 2023/24. Then read on to find out what we’re looking for in a cover letter, a key part of your job application.

 

We know job applications and cover letters can be difficult to write. Sometimes the pressure and stress leads people to look for shortcuts. In recent months we’ve seen an increase in people using Artificial Intelligence programmes such as ChatGPT to help them write their University assignments. Some may also be tempted to use these programmes to write their applications and cover letters for jobs like the Bristol Futures Advocate roles.

Let’s take a look at some of the potential weaknesses of cover letters written by AI, and think about what you can do to write a successful application yourself instead.

Cover letters written by AI programs can often be:

  • Generic: they use similar phrases and sentences, which we then see repeated across multiple cover letters. This results in cover letters which are…
  • Impersonal: they do not tell us much about you as a candidate and as a person. Why do you really want to apply for this role? What is it about the job that interests you?
  • Unevidenced: they make claims for possessing skills, abilities and experience but don’t give us real examples or show how you gained them.
  • Plagiarised: in some instances AI programs copy sentences word for word from the job advert. This leaves an impression of an uncreative and potentially dishonest candidate.

What we look for in successful cover letters:

  • Good cover letters are personal. They introduce us to you as a candidate and as a person, telling us about what attracted you to this job, and how it aligns with your skills, interests and experience.
  • They are also evidenced, giving us specific examples of where you have gained experience, and actual evidence for the skills that you possess.
  • Finally, they are informed: they engage with the themes and elements of Study Skills and Bristol Futures beyond just the summaries given in the job advert. This shows us that you have researched the role: you’ve looked into what we do as a service and what the role entails. Your decision to apply then demonstrates your confidence that you are well suited for the Advocate position.

You can find more guidance on writing good cover letters on this page from the University Careers Service.

What to do if you have submitted an application written by an AI

If you have used an AI program such as ChatGPT to write your cover letter for the Bristol Futures Student Advocate position we strongly urge you to reconsider and potentially resubmit your application. Even if you haven’t used ChatGPT you may find the following steps useful:

  1. First of all review your cover letter and CV and think about the points we’ve listed above. Are you demonstrating to us who you are as a unique individual candidate? Have you provided specific evidence for your skills and experience?
  2. You may then want to revise or rewrite your cover letter to make improvements.
  3. Finally, you are welcome to resubmit your application to us. Please be assured that we will not take this as an admission or indication that you have used AI to write your original application. You will be considered as a candidate on the merit of your latest application alone. We will be accepting applications until 11.59pm on Friday 24 March 2023.

If you have any questions about the Student Advocate role or the application process you can contact us at study-skills@bristol.ac.uk. If you want to further improve your job application skills remember too that the University Careers Service will be very happy to meet with you and provide support.

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