If you use AI to help with your job search, is it cheating or being tech-savvy? As hiring managers figure out how to integrate emerging tools like AI into their hiring processes, candidates are using them to find, research, and interview for jobs. But distinguishing between leveraging technology and crossing ethical boundaries can be a challenge. Here’s how you can use AI tools ethically and effectively.

First, let’s define our terms. In this piece, when we talk about artificial intelligence (AI), generative AI (GenAI), and large language models (LLMs), we’re referring to technologies that can simulate human-like text responses. Before using tools like these to prepare materials for a job interview, check to see if the organization has any guidelines regarding AI and applying. If they prohibit it, don’t use it.

Be True to Yourself

Authenticity is key. Use these tools to put your best foot forward, not to misrepresent your skills. Being authentic not only helps you find the right fit but also demonstrates your integrity to potential employers. If you want a job that you’ll be happy in, you have to be real about your capabilities and goals. And that’s true whether you use AI or not.

Tip #1: Use AI to Hone Your Career Story

An essential start to your job search is determining the types of business situations you prefer, the problems you solve best, and where your skills can make the most significant impact. A large language model (like ChatGPT, Gemini, Claude, etc.) can act as a thought partner to help you create a compelling narrative about your career and apply that to a new role.

One strategy is to prompt the AI to “ask questions one at a time” until it has enough information to provide suggestions tailored to your skills and experience. Here are a couple of sample prompts:

  • Could you guide me through an assessment of my skills and job experience? I’m trying to articulate what I’m good at, how I’ve applied these skills in my career, and how they might apply to [new role at organization]. Ask questions one at a time about my skills, experience, and the new role until you have enough information to do this.
  • My background is in [field and functional area], but I’m interested in moving into [field and functional area]. Can you help me explain how my skills are transferable? Ask me questions one at a time about my skills and background until you have enough information to do this.

The AI’s output can offer new ways of thinking about your career. From there, you can choose elements that ring the truest and incorporate them into how you talk about your work.

Tip #2: Use AI To Improve (Not Write) Your Resume

AI is great at sounding realistic and factual, even when it isn’t. While it may be tempting to use AI to write your resume for you, you’ll risk losing authenticity.

Instead, start with your own writing and use AI to check grammar and clarity. We use Grammarly and the review tools in Microsoft Word (yep, those are AI!). Grammarly can also provide suggestions for tone and engagement and check for plagiarism.

You can also use AI to analyze your resume relative to the job description. Upload your resume and the job posting to an LLM and prompt it to:

  • Identify areas where your skills and experience don’t align with the job posting.
  • Identify or suggest keywords that are relevant to your skills and the role.
  • Provide suggestions to connect your past achievements to the performance expectations of the new role.
  • Provide suggestions to match your language more closely to the job posting. For example, nonprofits often talk about growth in terms of mission impact, while for-profit companies often talk about revenue gains.

Prompt the AI to provide a bulleted list of suggestions, identify areas to improve, create a comparison chart, etc., rather than having it rewrite your work. Challenge its responses by prompting it to list any possibilities it may have overlooked. Tell it what you like and don’t like about the output and ask it to revise based on new data. (If you’re new to writing AI prompts, check out IBM’s Prompt Engineering for Everyone or Navigating Generative AI, a CEO Playbook. Both courses are available to audit or purchase on Coursera.)

If you choose to use any AI-generated text, make sure it accurately reflects your skills and experience and sounds like you. A fantastic AI-assisted resume is meaningless if you can’t authentically talk about and demonstrate everything during interviews.

Tip #3: Use AI to Prepare for Interviews

AI can help you brainstorm different ways an interviewer might ask about a particular skill. Try doing this with more than one platform. They each have different training models and will offer different types of insights. To make this useful and relevant to your skills and the specific job:

  • Conduct your own research about the organization (website, news articles, social media, etc.), including its mission or strategic plan, key initiatives, information about work culture, etc. Doing your own research ensures the information you are training the AI conversation with is factual and current.
  • Feed the AI that research, the job description, and your resume. You can also describe any concerns you have or why you are interested in the role. The more specific you are, the more tailored the output will be.
  • Prompt the AI to “act as a hiring manager” at the organization (you may want to also include their specific title) and generate a list of potential interview questions or even conduct a practice interview with you.
  • Ask the AI to assume different interviewer roles (e.g., board member or CEO) to help you think through how you might respond to various stakeholders during interviews.
  • Ask the AI to help you create a strategy for responding to common but difficult interview questions like “What are your weaknesses?” in a way that emphasizes your relevant skills and experience.

Remember, you aren’t using AI to create answers to interview questions. You’re using it to test your ability to think about the work through different lenses. From there, use the CAR (Context, Action, Result) or STAR (Situation, Task, Action, Result) method to develop your own authentic answers.

A note about privacy. When using publicly available large language models, even with a paid individual subscription and data controls, anything you upload has the potential to train the model. Don’t ever upload anything to an LLM that you aren’t comfortable sharing publicly. For example, you may want to exclude any contact information.

Tip #4: Think About Broader Impacts

This one isn’t a practical “how-to” for using AI to prep for your interview. It’s about using the widespread advancement of AI as a strategic framing. (In this case, the term AI refers to the array of technologies that can enhance service delivery for nonprofits and associations, not just text-based tools.)

AI is already reshaping jobs across industries and sectors. Talking about how it could impact an organization’s work on a larger scale can set you apart from other candidates, particularly for top leadership roles.

For example, if you’re interviewing for an executive director position at a nonprofit, you might discuss how AI could be used to analyze donor data and identify new fundraising opportunities, ultimately increasing the organization’s ability to deliver on its mission. You could also explore the potential downside of compromising intellectual property without proper safeguards and policies.

AI Should Enhance, Never Replace, Human Thinking

Staffing Advisors’ approach to AI in recruiting is simple: we use emerging tools to boost productivity and expand reach without diminishing the personal interaction and strategic decision-making required to make good hiring decisions. We never use it to evaluate or rank candidates in any way, ever. Humans do the thinking. Robots help us with everything else. (Read more about our privacy and technology practices here.)

Our advice to candidates is in this same spirit: Use AI to enhance the presentation of your skills and abilities, not to do the thinking for you. The unique perspectives and experiences that drive your career are what hiring managers are looking for. There are a lot of things that AI tools can do. But they can’t replicate that.