2023-12-12 by Andrej Tusicisny
Submitting the same resume for multiple jobs without customizing it is the main reason resumes get rejected. Since tailoring resumes is time-consuming, 46% of job seekers surveyed in 2023 used ChatGPT for assistance. This number is expected to grow even higher in 2024. However, some hiring managers and recruiters push back against generic resumes generated by ChatGPT:
Is ChatGPT still the best AI for resume review in 2024? With the backlash against ChatGPT resumes, what AI tools can job seekers rely on in 2024?
I rigorously tested five free AI resume review tools:
I evaluated these AI tools based on seven criteria:
Each AI reviewed three resumes matched with real job postings:
The resumes contained different errors that a human career coach would be able to identify.
To keep the conditions the same for all AI tools, I used a prompt recommended by this popular article: "I am going to send you a job description and resume. Can you optimize my resume for this job?" Sometimes, additional follow-up prompts, as mentioned below, were needed if the AI did not understand my intent. JobSearch.Coach was the only AI resume review service that did not require any prompts, just a resume and a job description.
I signed in using my Gmail account and provided my birthday. Then I encountered the first hiccup: there was no obvious way to upload my resume file (in the free ChatGPT account). I cobbled together the prompt, resume, and job description in Notepad and then pasted everything into ChatGPT. Side note: the premium ChatGPT Plus at $20/month supports file uploads, but let's stick to comparing free apples with free apples here.
Copy-pasting worked fine with Word resumes, but it merged some words in the PDF file. I was lucky that the PDF resume was already optimized for ATS (Applicant Tracking System, those scary resume-reading bots employers use) in a single-column format. When I tried to paste a multi-column resume, it resulted in chaos.
ChatGPT rewrote each resume but neither explained nor highlighted its changes. It only rephrased existing bullets. For instance, it turned "Drafted documentations delineating designs and specs for more than 20 projects" into a smoother "Drafted documentation for over 20 projects, ensuring clarity in design and specifications."
ChatGPT's edits weren't exactly tailored to the job description. I nudged the chatbot with a follow-up message, "Can you please optimize my resume for the job description I gave you?" and it did slightly better. This points to the well-known weakness of large language models (LLM): you get better results if you keep adjusting your prompts, but most people don't have time to become professional prompt engineers.
ChatGPT didn't suggest key elements like a Resume Summary or Skills section. By asking directly in a subsequent chat message, I got a Resume Summary, but it missed the mark compared to JobSearch.Coach. For example, it mentioned C++ that the job description didn't list, while JobSearch.Coach mentioned system architecture and innovation, both featured prominently in the job description.
ChatGPT didn't recommend any ATS keywords. It overlooked glaring resume errors like an unprofessional email address (firstname.lastname@example.org), atrocious cliches ("I am a self-motivated team player equipped with problem-solving and analytical skills"), and irrelevant hobbies (LARP). It also didn't advise removing unrelated old jobs or coursework, something JobSearch.Coach did. But hey, it did fix a typo!
On the bright side, ChatGPT was fast. And the copyedited resume was ready to be copy-pasted into Google Docs or Word. ChatGPT would get the perfect score if it could open my resume file and return a new version with my formatting in place.
Kudos where it's due – ChatGPT stayed grounded in reality. No hallucinations. Just straightforward, if somewhat basic, resume copyediting.
Let's start with the basics – uploading files. Unfortunately, Copilot won't let you upload .docx or .pdf files. I had to copy and paste the resume and job description manually. But there's a catch: Copilot has a 2000-character limit. I tried feeding it resume chunks with this prompt: "Now I will put different sections of the job description and resume in the chat. After each message, just say 'Acknowledged'. After I tell you that all the messages have passed through, you can read the job description and resume, and optimize the resume." Although the prompt mostly worked, the impatient bot often jumped the gun, trying to optimize a resume it hasn't received yet.
For each resume, Copilot offered 10-12 more-or-less vague tips like "If you have any relevant certifications, add them to your resume." That sounds sensible, but what are the relevant certifications for this role? OK, Copilot, keep your secrets.
About a quarter of Copilot's suggestions seemed inspired by the job description I painstakingly fed it. The rest? You could get them from a quick Google search.
Copilot didn't notice that one of the resumes was missing some crucial sections. It suggested adding job description keywords only in one out of three cases. It glossed over an unprofessional email address, cliched phrases, and irrelevant hobbies. It didn't suggest removing an old job and coursework unrelated to the role, as JobSearch.Coach did. And, unlike ChatGPT, it didn't catch a typo.
Copilot was quick, yes, but only because it didn't have much to say. Moreover, its generic suggestions without any examples were hard to apply. For example, it said: "Add a brief objective statement that highlights your experience in statistical modeling and data analysis, and how it aligns with the job requirements." Facing the same resume, JobSearch.Coach actually wrote a Resume Summary (not an outdated Objective Statement) for me, so I didn't have to. Out of Copilot's 30+ recommendations, only four came with examples.
Copilot didn't make up any facts because its advice was about as specific as a horoscope – "Keep your resume concise and to the point" could apply to any resume. But it lost one star for telling me to do what I'd already done in my resume ("mention that you were in the top 10th percentile of the class" or "use bullet points to list your technical skills"). Maybe my resume was so boring that Copilot just skimmed it?
I signed in easily with a Gmail account. But my first prompt was met with a cold shoulder from Bard. I finally got an answer by clicking "Regenerate draft." It looks like artificial intelligence can be fixed the same way as a computer: Have you tried turning it on and off again?
Then I encountered another obstacle: there was no obvious way to upload my resume file. I solved it by putting the prompt together with the resume content and the job description in Notepad, and then copied and pasted this plain text into Bard. This was the same workaround as I used with ChatGPT.
Same as with ChatGPT, pasting content of a PDF file led to formatting errors, but Word was fine.
Bard was a wildcard. It rewrote the software engineer's resume, focusing mainly on copyediting. It also gave a couple of more generic recommendations for further improvement, e.g., "Consider using a professional resume template for a more polished look." For the project manager's resume, it first gave 15 recommendations ranging from general ("Use keywords from the job description throughout your resume") to specific ("List any relevant certifications you hold, such as PMP or PMI"). Then it also rewrote the resume, though it strangely omitted its last two sections. For the third resume, it only offered advice, ranging in quality. Mind you, I always used the same prompt.
In the rewritten resume, the Resume Summary was clearly inspired by the job description. However, the Professional Experience section was just a polished version of the original bullet points, lacking ties to the job description. Among the editorial suggestions, only a few reflected the job specifics.
Bard nailed the Resume Summary, aligning it with the job description. It organized the Technical Skills well. It encouraged me to include ATS keywords from the job description but didn't specify them. It didn't have any suggestions to shorten a resume that was too long. Unlike ChatGPT and Claude, Bard suggested axing cliches and buzzwords. However, it didn't notice an unprofessional email address and irrelevant hobbies.
Bard's speed was comparable to ChatGPT. When it rewrote the resume, or parts of it, I could copy and paste them into a doc. But the rewrites strangely ignored Bard's own editorial suggestions. Bard, you had one job!
Here's where Bard went off-script. It fabricated credentials, like adding MySQL, PostgreSQL, AWS, and Azure for a software engineer. More bizarrely, it included the job the project manager was applying for on their resume. I guess an employer has to give you a job if your resume already lists it?
Here's a screenshot of Bard's imaginary job, including its future start date:
A simple sign-in with a Gmail account, and I was all set to upload my resume and job description files right in the first chat message!
Claude handled both Word docs and PDFs like a pro.
Claude totally revamped two resumes. One was stronger than the ChatGPT output: with a compelling Resume Summary and a well-organized Skills section. The other was a miss, mostly because Claude opted for a riskier Accomplishments section over the more traditional chronological Work History. The reason for this choice? Still a mystery. Claude's not big on explanations. For the last resume, it offered general advice without showing how to apply it: "Emphasize analytical projects and impact you had on business decisions or outcomes." Compare that to JobSearch.Coach, which always included examples that I could copy&paste into the resume.
Claude gets partial credit for reading job descriptions. About a third of its suggestions were rooted in the job description. But the bullet points in the Professional Experience section? Just a spruced-up version of what was already there, with no real connection to the job requirements. This seems to be a common blind spot among general AI chatbots like ChatGPT, Bard, and Claude.
Comprehensive feedback makes Claude a close contender for the title of the best AI for resume review. Claude filled in missing resume sections. It suggested incorporating a handful of ATS keywords from the job description. It even trimmed down a wordy resume. However, it missed some critical errors like an unprofessional email address, cliches, and extraneous content.
When Claude actually rewrote a resume, it was a simple copy-paste job for me. But when it came to applying its editorial suggestions on my own, things got tricky. Phrases like "Tailor bullet points to use language from job description" are helpful only if you show me how, Claude! When I asked to apply the suggestions in subsequent chat messages, its examples often lacked clarity compared to what ChatGPT or JobSearch.Coach provided. Which hiring manager wants to read "Increased velocity of innovation investments by providing data-backed validation of ideas in early testing phases, aiding leadership in prioritizing highest potential growth opportunities?" One advantage of Claude over its competitors was speed: it was by far the fastest AI in my test.
Although it was mostly accurate, Claude occasionally conjured up fictional details like "mentored over 50 project team members" or "3.8 GPA." These fabrications would expose a job applicant to considerable legal and reputational risks.
I signed in with my Gmail account. Then I uploaded a resume file and pasted the job description from Indeed. No prompting was necessary; the AI took it from there.
The tool processed both PDF and Word resumes without any problems.
For each resume, JobSearch.Coach offered 10 editorial suggestions that were all spot on. For example, the AI immediately identified the most important problem with the software engineer's resume: "your resume doesn't currently include a summary." Then it suggested a concise overview of the candidate's experience that aligned with the role they were applying for at Google: "Senior Software Engineer with over a decade of experience in developing scalable cloud-based technologies and front-end solutions. Proven track record in leading technical teams and enhancing system architecture. Passionate about driving innovation and efficiency in software development, particularly within large-scale search and information retrieval systems."
JobSearch.Coach even creatively brainstormed solutions for experience gaps. For example, this was its advice for a data scientist lacking the required years of experience: "The job description requires at least four years of experience. If you have additional relevant experience not listed, consider adding it. Otherwise, focus on the complexity and relevance of your projects and internships. If you have any ongoing education or continuous learning that supplements your experience, include that as well."
Recommendations across all three resumes were explicitly tied to the job description. Consider this example: "Your current skills section includes many relevant skills, but it doesn't mention SQL, which is a must-have according to the job description." Or: "Highlight the scale of the projects you've worked on to match the job description's emphasis on handling information at a massive scale." That does sound important if you want an engineering job at Google. This level of specificity was in stark contrast with the more generic output of general AI chatbots.
JobSearch.Coach identified all the missing resume sections. It highlighted qualifications mentioned in the job description, but not in the resume (e.g., "experience developing accessible technologies"). Unlike its competitors, it offered both suggested edits and a comprehensive list of ATS keywords:
It also caught resume mistakes in the Contact Information section: "The email address provided may come across as informal and not suitable for professional communications. Consider creating a new email address that includes your first and last name for job applications. Moreover, add your LinkedIn profile URL to facilitate a comprehensive review of your professional background by potential employers." In comparison, ChatGPT unabashedly accepted my email@example.com.
The AI also provided thoughtful positive feedback, which can be a morale booster during the grueling job application process: "Your resume showcases a strong background in Agile project management, aligning well with the Project Manager role at Verizon. The experience you have in managing enterprise-level application migrations to Scrum methodology and implementing Agile-enabling tools is particularly relevant. Your achievements in increasing team productivity, reducing development time, and enhancing job satisfaction directly speak to the competencies Verizon is looking for in a candidate who can lead projects efficiently and solve problems effectively."
JobSearch.Coach noticed the excessive length of the project manager's resume and suggested removing a job that was not only more than ten years old but also irrelevant to the role. On the other hand, it did overlook a typo, so a final proofread is still advisable.
You might want to grab a coffee or snack while waiting for the magic, which took between 39-58 seconds. On the other hand, all the recommendations were easy to implement because they came with specific examples that I could copy and paste into Word or Google Docs. It'd be even better if this AI could rewrite the resume on its own, but without Bard's and Claude's hallucinations.
There were no fabrications in the three outputs produced during the test.
The best AI tool for resume review is JobSearch.Coach. It shined by catching even subtle resume mistakes and tailoring resume details to each employer's priorities. With error-free, relevant advice easy to directly apply, it proved specialized AI tools can beat general chatbots. Among the chatbots, Claude was the best for reviewing a resume, though you have to watch out for its hallucinations. The ChatGPT resume review was more about copyediting and didn't provide much value beyond what you can get from Grammarly. Bard performed marginally better than ChatGPT, but dangerously tended to make things up. Copilot's vague advice proved difficult to apply, and it didn't allow me to upload a resume and a job description in any user-friendly way.
In the ever-evolving land of artificial intelligence, sometimes the specialized tool beats one-size-fits-all chatbots. Happy resume writing!