I Used ChatGPT to Write a Defense Industry Resume. This Is What Happened.

angry white robot resents resume writing

Writing sucks. I’m a professional writer, so I can say that. Writing a resume? Well, that sucks worse. Which is why I’m so intrigued about how ChatGPT could help transitioning military, veterans and spouses write a resume faster.

Could ChatGPT solve your transition resume problems?

As the transition master coach for Military.com, I have helped thousands of struggling sailors, soldiers, airmen, Marines, Coasties and Guardians tackle their resume during military transition. I know it is a struggle for everyone.

Could ChatGPT help you?

If you haven’t heard about it, ChatGPT is a large-language model trained by OpenAI that uses artificial intelligence to write answers at length to any question. It has been in the news for months with particular agony and hand-wringing over college entrance essays, bar exams and the death of writing in general.

While I do have concerns over privacy and the ethics of how this web of sensitive resume information could be used, I still think resumes are unnecessarily hard to write and harder to read so I’m always looking for tools to help the military.

That said, I also have enough experience with veterans to know that you will worry about whether using ChatGPT is inauthentic, dishonest or fraudulent. Rest assured, experts from the industry giant SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management) have determined that using ChatGPT or other AI tools to create a resume is akin to using a resume coach or professional resume writer -- so job seekers are not cheating.

Even with those concerns, resume writing sucks so bad for military that I thought I should give ChatGPT a try. My experience was eye-opening. Here is what you can expect when it comes to your military transition resume.

Open an account.

ChatGPT has a free version and a paid version that costs about $20 per month. To open a free account, I had to provide an email address, my birthdate, and a phone number -- just like almost every other internet account I have.

Ask a starter question.

You have to ask the chatbox an effective question to get the answer you want.

If you are completely starting your resume from scratch and have nothing but a job description, ask: Can you write resume bullet points with measurable results for this job? Then copy and paste the entire job description into the box before you click return.

If you have your basic resume and a job listing, I found the most effective phrasing was: Can you write bullet points for a job as a (name of job) with relevant metrics using my resume and a job listing? When the chatbox asks you to paste both the resume and the job listing, copy and paste both before you hit return to get the right result.

Let the wild rumpus start

ChatGPT immediately -- almost magically -- starts writing bullet points right before your eyes. If you only input the job listing, it puts together expected bullet points as examples. That is helpful if you have that kind of experience, not so helpful if you do not.

When I put in my own resume with a job listing for a recommended job as strategic consultant with the Gallup Organization, it effortlessly generated bullet points like these:

  • Collaborated with Fortune 1000 C-suite executives to design and implement workplace solution that increased employee engagement by 30% and reduced turnover by 15%.
  • Led a culture transformation initiative for a major financial services company, resulting in a 25% improvement in employee satisfaction and a 20% increase in productivity.

I sounded so amazeballs in these bullet points I had to look up where on my resume it found that information. It was true; I just had not described it in those more relevant terms.

To be fair, it was also not quite true because the work sounded like it took place at a much larger scale than it actually did. That would be quickly discovered in an interview.

What it does not do:

ChatGPT can craft a resume bullet so much faster than I can, but it does not have access to knowledge you must infer or perceive. For example, the Gallup Organization is renowned for its StrengthsFinder training, which would almost certainly be part of any consulting they would offer. So I would naturally expect to have my five strengths prominently listed. ChatGPT could not infer that information.

Military Blindness

The results were also not nearly as good when I put in the resume of a senior military member looking for a job in the defense industry. Instead of coming up with remarkable new bullet points, it mostly spit back bullet points that were already on the resume. It also ignored some of the success markers indicated in the job listing.

ChatGPT did not seem to have the same kind of industry-specific sensitivity for the defense industry that I have seen for other segments of Corporate America.

When I asked the chatbox what expected skills a business development manager in the defense industry should have, it came back with some basic ideas about technical knowledge, strategic thinking, networking, etc.

These are exactly the too-general traits hiring managers tell me that they already see from senior military. Instead, they want you to find out more about their specific business model and identify problems you can solve. That information comes only from your network, not from ChatGPT.

What is it good for?

I was not surprised by this shortfall when it comes to the military. Other resume tools I use frequently like Jobscan and SkillSyncer can also be somewhat blind to military/defense keywords. Their value as a tool lies in teaching a skill that you cannot pick up just by reading about it.

I think the same thing will hold true for ChatGPT. It can’t replace you and your knowledge about your own industry.

Instead, I think it teaches what the resume bullets for a certain job ought to look like. I think it can get you off to a really good start on your resume, especially if writing does not come easily to you. I also think it can help you blast through procrastinating about your resume, and zero in on the skills and the language employers want for a particular job outside defense.

As long as you edit out personal information, specific dates and commands, ChatGPT can be a shortcut to getting your resume at least half finished. To get the rest of the way, take our free Checklist Resume Master Class.

Writing a resume is all about making an argument for why you are the right candidate for the job. AI tools like ChatGPT can take you part of the way there; the rest will always be up to you.

-- Jacey Eckhart is Military.com's transition master coach. She is a certified professional career coach and military sociologist who helps military members get their first civilian job by offering career-level Master Classes through our Veteran Employment Project and on her website SeniorMilitaryTransition.com. Reach her at Jacey.Eckhart@Monster.com.

Find Your Next Job Fast

Transitioning military, veterans and spouses may be qualified for the job, but they are missing the secrets of civilian hiring. Find out everything you need to know with our FREE master class series including our next class You can view previous classes in our video library. Questions for Jacey? Visit our Facebook page.

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