May 19, 2024

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The Class of 2024 and the Art of Generative AI 

Imagine standing at the edge of the ocean, the horizon stretching forever. Ahead of you lies adventure and treasure yet to be found. This is the Class of 2024. They face a rapidly changing job market that can feel as moody as the ocean.

Job hunting can feel like shouting into the void. But what if you had a tool to help you stand out, customize your search, and land your dream job?

This tool can take many shapes and forms. But these days, it’s often found in generative AI systems like OpenAI’s ChatGPT, Anthropic’s Claude, and Alphabet’s Gemini. Generative AI tools can sift through your resume, transcripts, and LinkedIn profile and pull out your killer skills and experiences most relevant to what employers seek.  

These tools have been popular since the launch of ChatGPT in November 2022 and are now part of our daily workflows. The Class of 2024 is the first to have this help when applying for jobs. 

Generative AI tools can level the playing field for job seekers. For example, job interviews can be stressful, and you can’t practice enough. Generative AI can be your coach and give you a place to practice your answers, improve your delivery, and get instant, helpful feedback. 

Generative AI tools can also help job seekers prepare for the unexpected. They can generate new and difficult interview questions you may not have thought of before. And these questions can be more effective than those found in books and websites.

But generative AI is not a reality-distorting magic wand. It is important to be smart and ethical about using this technology, which can go wrong. 

Generative AI can improve the language to match a job description, but it doesn’t have the human intuition to know which accomplishments, skills, or personality traits to highlight in a way that will resonate with the hiring team. These small, personal touches are what often make a resume stand out and get an interview with a recruiter or hiring manager.

Also, an AI-generated cover letter may read impersonal and generic, if not fake. It may lack enthusiasm about your qualifications and eagerness to contribute to the company’s mission. 

Not to mention that generative AI can hallucinate about important details of your work and personal history. Using generative AI to create your application documents without careful review could make people question how real and honest you are. 

And there’s more — everyone claims generative AI will make our world more productive, but it will create more burdens and headaches.

The “anti-AI” sentiment is real, as evidenced by the many generative AI detection tools on the market. And it’s not just a sentiment; it has real consequences. In this day and age, terms like “delve into” found in a cover letter can, in many cases, ruin someone’s chance at a dream company. One way to mitigate the risks of generative AI is to use it as a research tool or to create outlines or first drafts rather than relying on it for writing tasks.

Unfortunately, even if you’ve carefully crafted your cover letter or resume, your prospective employer may suspect it was generated by AI. And we know that AI detectors are far from perfect and may blatantly classify human-written text as AI-generated. 

This tendency to question everything in the AI age is natural; after all, it’s too easy to type a few prompts and generate a lot of text. This means that the Class of 2024 bears the burden of distinguishing its writings from AI-generated material. This is not a desirable situation, but it is a reality.

If you are a member of this year’s class of graduates, after warnings of the risks of generative AI, it can help you land your dream job in a world where standing out from the crowd is not just good, it’s essential. So, to the Class of 2024, our advice is this. Make good use of generative AI as you pursue your dreams. Just remember to use it right. And beware of the complications that come with generative AI

Picture of By Kofi Arhin, Ph.D. & Tinglong Dai, PhD.

By Kofi Arhin, Ph.D. & Tinglong Dai, PhD.

Kofi Arhin, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Decision and Technology Analytics (DATA) in the College of Business at Lehigh University.

Tinglong Dai, PhD, is the Bernard T. Ferrari Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School; co-chair of the Johns Hopkins Workgroup on AI and Healthcare, part of the Hopkins Business of Health Initiative; and vice president of marketing, communications, and outreach at INFORMS.

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