It's all the buzz these days: Artificial intelligence (AI) tools that can make you sound more eloquent, can craft your resume and offer creative ideas to generate social media posts. But as you exit the military and begin a civilian career, what are the risks of relying on AI, and what benefits could these tools offer you?
What Is AI?
Artificial Intelligence is "the simulation of human intelligence processes by machines, especially computer systems." Simply put, "Specific applications of AI include expert systems, natural language processing, speech recognition and machine vision."
AI has numerous forms, uses and applications, but one of the most popular among professionals and job seekers is ChatGPT, a user-friendly "generative AI" tool that enables users to create music and other media, text and more.
Users enter information, examples, queries or topics and request the tool to reply with information, research, lists and suggestions. It's sometimes described as a "Google search on steroids."
AI is only as helpful as the information it pulls from online sources. If it pulls bad information, users could interpret the results as factual, when they could be erroneous. It's critical to verify and vet the information that's returned to ensure accuracy.
Benefits of Using AI in a Job Search
As you move from one culture (the military) into the civilian world, there are advantages to using a tool such as AI to help understand the private-sector narrative, craft your messaging and write your resume to attract employers and introduce yourself to strangers.
For example, as a job seeker you could:
- Ask for assistance "de-militarizing" some of your experience into civilian terms. Always double-check that the terminology is accurate, as there are nuances to job descriptions and skills.
- Enter information about yourself, your skills, goals and personality and ask the AI tool to create an "elevator pitch" for when you're meeting new people.
- Take advantage of the accessibility of tools such as ChatGPT, downloading the platform onto your smartphone, desktop or tablet.
- Enlist AI support to categorize your networking contacts into an easy-to-use database for tracking.
- Ask it to describe your ideal career path, based on the information you provide (skills, goals, experience and how you want to work). The tool could prompt ideas you hadn't yet considered.
Remember, these results are only suggestions. You, the job candidate, need to be confident and clear about how you'll promote yourself to potential employers and networking contacts.
For example, my client recently used AI tools to help him think of other career paths he might enjoy, that he'd not considered because he'd been locked into a more limiting job for many years. By seeing different options listed, he then began researching those fields and doing informational interviews to learn more about different types of work.
Negatives of Using AI
As noted above, one big negative is sometimes the accuracy of the information. I recently used a generative AI tool to offer suggestions on how to describe my field, "personal branding," and some responses weren't correct. I know my area well and spotted the mistakes, but if you're ever not sure, always do the research.
AI is a learning tool. It gathers mostly recent information from the internet, and as it continues to learn, responses are predicted to become more accurate. It's also very dependent on the user entering the information correctly.
For example, if you enter a query for a tagline to be used on a resume for someone who's a logistics specialist, and it replies with an offer that doesn't have the personality you're seeking, then it's dependent on you to revise the request to include various personality traits.
One of the negatives employers see from job applicants is when candidates rely on AI tools to create resumes and cover letters (even emails and social media bios) that don't accurately reflect the candidate.
When interviewed, the employer can detect the disconnect between what they read and who they're meeting. As a candidate, you must genuinely speak to your resume, cover letter and all interactions. AI tools cannot replace this for you.
The author of "Success After Service: How to Take Control of Your Job Search and Career After Military Duty" (2020) and "Your Next Mission: A personal branding guide for the military-to-civilian transition" (2014), Lida Citroën is a keynote speaker and presenter, executive coach, popular TEDx speaker and instructor of multiple courses on LinkedIn Learning. She regularly presents workshops on personal branding, executive presence, leadership communication and reputation risk management.
A contributing writer for Military.com, Lida is a passionate supporter of the military, volunteering her time to help veterans transition to civilian careers and assist employers who seek to hire military talent. She regularly speaks at conferences, corporate meetings and events focused on military transition.
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