Contractors, tried using Artificial Intelligence to create your CV?

Who isn’t (I know), but I’m a big fan of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and use a range of AI tools to garner efficiencies in our business, writes Matt Craven, founder of contract work-winning advisory The CV & Interview Advisors. 

I also believe that AI can be put to great use by contractors to help manage and grow their business. ‘But,’ I hear your human conscience ask, ‘Where ought we draw the line, and should contractors be using ChatGPT or other AI-powered writing tools to create their CV?’ 

Asking AI about itself...

For the purposes of this article exclusively for ContractorUK, I decided to ask ChatGPT to make the case for using the likes of itself, AI, to write CVs. I have included its 5-point response below and shared my thoughts.  

Please note, this battle of Man versus AI comes ahead of me outlining some more old-school threats to contractors this evening and you can log-on and join me here, if you’d like to stay safe while contracting. 

1. Can AI write my CV faster and more rapidly? 

ChatGPT: “Time-Saving Efficiency -- AI-powered CV writing tools significantly streamline the process, allowing independent contractors to save valuable time.  

“By automating the creation of well-structured CVs, AI eliminates the need for manual formatting and content organisation, enabling contractors to focus on other essential tasks related to their business.” 

My take as a CV resource who’s human: This point I cannot argue with. Generative AI language models such as ChatGPT can create copy in mere seconds. In fact, when I asked ChatGPT how long it would take to create a three-page CV and how long it would take, it replied with the following: 

ChatGPT: “As an AI language model, I can generate a 3-page CV relatively quickly, typically within a few seconds. However, it's important to note that I don't have access to personal information or specific details about your qualifications, experiences, and achievements unless provided to me in the conversation. 

“To create a CV, I would require inputs such as: 

  1. Personal Information: Your full name, contact details (phone number, email address), and location. 

  1. Professional Summary: A brief overview of your professional background, key skills, and areas of expertise. 

  1. Work Experience: A list of your previous work experiences, including job titles, company names, employment dates, and a description of your responsibilities and achievements in each role. 

  1. Education and Certifications: Details of your educational qualifications, such as degrees or diplomas, as well as any relevant certifications or specialized training. 

  1. Skills: A comprehensive list of your relevant technical and soft skills, including programming languages, tools, methodologies, and any other competencies relevant to your field. 

  1. Projects: If applicable, information about significant projects you have worked on, including project descriptions, objectives, and outcomes. 

  1. Achievements and Awards: Any notable achievements, recognitions, or awards you have received during your career. 

  1. Additional Sections: Depending on your preferences and the nature of your work, you may want to include sections on publications, presentations, volunteer work, or other relevant information.” 

My take as a CV resource who’s human: The main counter-argument here is that the time-consuming element of writing a CV is not the writing part, it’s researching the psychology of the target audience; collating the raw data; defining one’s personal brand, positioning and value proposition; thinking deeply about your strengths; ensuring your CV is packed full of the business benefits that you have delivered for clients; and including all relevant keywords so your CV is ATS-optimised. 

If you are able to feed that information into ChatGPT, it will create a half-decent CV. The problem, though, is that many contractors find it a challenge to identify their personal brand, value proposition, strengths, skills and achievements and the other necessary inputs.  

So there’s simply no substitute for working with a third-party (a living and breathing third party) to tease out this information and ensure your CV is laser-targeted for the opportunities or roles you are applying for.  

At best with many AI tools, you’ll end up with your existing content (be that underwhelming or otherwise), re-purposed into a US résumé with a rather generic writing style. Oh, and that’s a writing style which every other person who has ever used ChatGPT to create their CV will have too! 

You might argue that the above is really no different than paying a small fee to a CV editing company which simply takes your existing content and re-hashes it.  

The value in using a modern, professional CV writing service however, is working with a proper personal branding specialist who takes time to understand what is magic about you, and how your talents will benefit a potential client.  

In short, writing the CV is the easy part. Eliciting the right content is a different matter altogether. It’s probably a good place to mention that someone claiming to be ‘in the know’ has recently accused a certain large CV writing company of creating customer CVs using ChatGPT. 

2. Can ChatGPT tailor CV content? 

ChatGPT: “Tailored and Targeted Content -- AI algorithms have the ability to analyze job postings and industry-specific requirements, ensuring that the CV is customized and tailored for each application.  

“By identifying relevant keywords, skills, and experiences, AI can assist contractors in presenting themselves as ideal candidates, maximizing their chances of catching the attention of potential clients or employers.” 

My take as a CV resource who's human: Once again, this task (tailoring) is definitely something AI can assist with.  

In other words, using AI to help you make your master CV bespoke, such as to a specific role, can be a good idea -- if you know how. The trick is to give it the correct inputs/prompts, which is a bit of a fine art in itself.  

Where ChatGPT really falls down is that it does not have a full understanding of the UK contracting market. Nor should we expect the tool or other AI to gauge the fine nuances of IR35!  

We shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that the knowledge possessed by generative AI language models is largely based upon the information those tools find on the internet. Of course, us humans know that the internet is chock-full of nonsense, so we have a slightly flawed baseline of information right from the start. 

3. ChatGPT on CV formatting; how good is it? 

ChatGPT: “Polished and Professional Presentation -- AI excels in refining the language, grammar, and overall readability of a CV.  

“It can identify errors, suggest better word choices, and optimize the flow of information, resulting in a polished and professional document. This attention to detail enhances the overall impression contractors make on clients, showcasing their professionalism and commitment to quality.” 

My take as a CV resource who’s human: As a business coach who is living and breathing, I better go get my coat! 

More seriously, I acknowledge that ChatGPT appears to produce flawless grammar, which can be a challenge for many contractors (statistically, 80% of CVs contain a grammatical mistake). These mistakes are easy to make, and so yes, AI can solve this problem.  

I disagree that AI can optimise the flow of information, however. 

In my experience, the likes of ChatGPT simply base their offered CV formats on what they source on the internet, typically defaulting to a US résumé, rather than a UK CV format acceptable to contractors and their hirers. 

AI-powered writing tools tend not to apply anything innovative and simply default to the status quo, which in most cases, does not cater for the finer nuances of the UK contracting market.  

Almost needless to say, such tools don’t provide contractors with a point of difference compared with using our award-winning contractor CV methodologies. A further red flag is that ChatGPT also has no knowledge beyond 2021, so any CV innovations/ etiquettes in the last two years will be omitted. 

4. Is ChatGPT objective with CV creation and résumé writing? 

ChatGPT: “Objective and Critical Feedback -- AI provides an objective perspective on the content of a CV. It can detect potential gaps, inconsistencies, or areas that require improvement.  

“By relying on AI-generated insights, independent contractors can ensure their CVs are comprehensive and well-rounded, highlighting their most relevant skills and accomplishments effectively.”  

My take as a CV resource who's human: I’m not sure I agree with this bold assertion. I guess there’s a debate to be had about how objective AI really is, but in my mind, all AI does is aggregate the information it extracts from the internet, which as I said before, is often complete nonsense. 

When I asked ChatGPT where it got its knowledge and intelligence from, it replied with the following: 

“ChatGPT, like other language models, derives its knowledge and intelligence from a vast amount of text data that it has been trained on. The training process involves exposing the model to a diverse range of sources, such as books, articles, websites, and other textual information available on the internet. 

“The specific dataset used to train ChatGPT includes a wide variety of topics, allowing the model to have a broad understanding of many subjects. However, it's important to note that while ChatGPT can generate responses based on patterns and knowledge learned during training, it doesn't possess true comprehension or awareness. 

“It's worth mentioning that ChatGPT does not have direct access to the internet or real-time information. Its responses are based solely on the information it has been trained on, with a knowledge cutoff in September 2021. Therefore, any events or developments that have occurred after that date are unknown to the model unless they have been explicitly mentioned in the training data.” 

When I further chatted with ChatGPT, it replied with the following: 

ChatGPT, as an AI language model, does not possess personal opinions, beliefs, or subjective perspectives. Its responses are generated based on patterns and information learned from the training data.  

“Therefore, [and this is my emphasis, ContractorUK readers] it does not have the ability to provide an objective perspective on the quality of content.” 

Ouch. So, objectivity and CVs via AI? I think I’ve pretty much won that one! 

5. Is using ChatGPT for my CV me being tech-savvy or cheating? 

Chat GPT: “Competitive Edge -- In today's competitive job market, leveraging AI can provide a crucial advantage. AI-powered CVs can align with hiring trends, industry-specific buzzwords, and formatting preferences. By incorporating AI-generated suggestions, independent contractors can position themselves as tech-savvy professionals who stay ahead of the curve, demonstrating their adaptability and relevance to potential clients or employers.” 

My take as a CV resource who’s human: Fluff aside, the main point here seems to be that using AI would somehow position a contractor as being tech-savvy.  

With AI being so new, it’s not definitive, but I would hazard a guess that clients and recruiters would be somewhat suspicious of a CV that had been written by AI, with question marks over its accuracy and authenticity. 

It is also possible to detect AI-generated content. One way to do this is to copy and paste the CV content back into ChatGPT and simply ask it if AI created it!  

If the CV in question was indeed ChatGPT-created, the enquirer will be told that this is the case -- which might not be a good look! 

Using ChatGPT or other AI-powered tools for your CV, in a nutshell... 

ChatGPT: “By harnessing the power of AI for CV writing, independent contractors can optimize their time, customize their content, present themselves professionally, receive objective feedback, and gain a competitive edge in the job market.  

“Integrating AI into the CV creation process empowers contractors to showcase their skills and experiences effectively, ultimately increasing their chances of securing lucrative opportunities and achieving their professional goals.” 

My final take as a CV resource who’s human: Be aware of American spellings in ChatGPT’s responses, especially if you’re ultimately going forward for work at (or even just through) a UK organisation. But be further aware that you’ll be hard-pressed to find many hiring decision-makers who will agree with much of what ChatGPT claims immediately above.  

Yes, AI can certainly help with time-optimisation and it’s a powerful content-creation tool if used in the right way. But to expect the tool to write a powerful CV for the UK contracting market? That’s a stretch. 

As it currently canes, I don’t believe AI can replace a talented personal branding specialist who will take the time to get to know you and your business; knows which type and style of content will compel a client to shortlist you; knows how to transform raw content into unique and powerful language -- and knows the nuances of the UK contractor market, including IR35 and the off-payroll rules.  

But who knows how this exciting technology will evolve. I’m definitely a big fan of AI, just not when it comes to writing your CV – the most important document in a contractor’s arsenal, for being second to none at winning you work. In short, don’t leave your CV to the machines. 

There’s more where all this advice came from – my human brain! 

One final thing before ChatGPT makes me look bad by its memory bettering mine. Let me not forget to remind you that a tad unrelated to the risks of using ChatGPT to create your CV, a webinar for ContractorUK readers will this evening expose the biggest recruitment scams existing today in the contractor industry -- and advise how to avoid them. It’s at 7.15pm and if you aren’t too busy playing with ChatGPT, register here and see you then.

Monday 26th Jun 2023
Profile picture for user Matt Craven

Written by Matt Craven

Matt is the Founder of The CV & Interview Advisors and Incredibly Linked. He is considered to be a thought-leader in Personal Branding and is regularly engaged as a public speaker to deliver advice and guidance to global audiences on all things related to CV authoring, career advancement, LinkedIn, personal branding and thought leadership.
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