LinkedIn is exploring a rare, seemingly useful application of generative AI. The platform is testing out a feature for its paying subscribers that auto-generates personalised messages to hiring managers based on a user’s specific profile, according to a Tuesday blog post on the site by company exec, Ora Levit.
The brief, cover letter-esque messages appear to collate information from a user’s LinkedIn bio and present it in the form of a straightforward, professional-sounding appeal. “Hi Sarah, Hope you are having a good week. I am excited to reach out about the Premium Account Manager position at Oustia. As an Account executive at Mintome, I have 5+ years of experience managing accounts for brands…,” reads the example provided by LinkedIn. The illustrative sample message goes on to reference the user’s educational background and ends with a request to “connect and find a time to chat.”
“Using generative AI with information from your profile, the hiring manager’s profile, the job description, and the company of interest, we create a highly personalised draft message to get a conversation started,” wrote Levit in the afternoon press release.
Though, the feature announcement included a disclaimer that’s basically a given with all AI tools: double check the work. “Customisation is still important, so take the time to review and edit the draft to make it your own and convey your voice, then send onwards to the hiring manager, getting one step closer to your next opportunity,” the exec added.
Then, there’s the biggest caveat: The messaging feature is only being piloted among LinkedIn’s Premium customers, who pay a rather hefty subscription fee. In 2023, the paid membership tier starts at $US39.99 ($56) per month. Reminder: accessing ChatGPT itself is free if you sign up through OpenAI’s website.
Moreover, LinkedIn’s AI messaging upgrades aren’t yet available to all Premium users. The rollout is beginning this week, and will take time per Levit’s post. As a journalist, I have free LinkedIn Premium access. Yet I don’t currently see the option to “let AI draft a message to the hiring team” among my recommended job listings.
“We’re initially testing this feature with a select group of Premium members as we collect feedback,” a LinkedIn spokesperson, Abby Semcken, told Gizmodo in an email.
In many ways, rumours of artificial intelligence’s intelligence have been greatly exaggerated. Large language models like ChatGPT can produce fluid text quickly on virtually any subject in a wide range of tones. But the chatbots cannot yet achieve accuracy nor write particularly inspiring prose.
Basically, these AIs aggregate concepts and language from their training and regurgitate what may or may not be a factually correct, finely sorted alphabet soup. It’s impressive in many ways, but it’s probably not the end of all human writing and creative endeavour — as much as media CEOs and studio execs might want it to be.
All that said, cover letters are inarguably one of the lowest forms of the written word. Composing a cover letter and any similar professional communication often amounts to little more than repeating information from your clear, bulleted resume in overwrought paragraph form. It is a tedious exercise that only really demonstrates your willingness to undertake tedious exercises.
In other words: it’s a perfect task for ChatGPT. People across the internet have already discovered generative AI’s use for lessening the work of job applications. LinkedIn is officially on board with the idea.
The professional networking site has been owned by Microsoft since 2016. Then, this year, Microsoft spent billions on a partnership with OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT. Microsoft has been integrating OpenAI’s buzzy chatbot tool across its platforms and properties, LinkedIn included. Already, the site had introduced a feature to help users build their profiles with AI and improved its suggested messaging response aid. Now, LinkedIn’s beefed-up generative AI tools extend to drafting complete, direct communications.
Assuming the feedback goes well and LinkedIn expands the feature to all paid users, it could be a useful timesaver for a chunk of people on the platform. The work of introducing oneself to a prospective employer might be reduced to just a couple of clicks.
On the flip side, the feature could just end up filling hiring managers’ LinkedIn inboxes with endless spam. Messaging through LinkedIn is mercifully limited via a credit system, but the ability for individuals to send even five AI-generated messages a month could easily snowball into a problem for those on the receiving end.
But LinkedIn doesn’t see this as an issue. “The tool was built to solve the blank page problem and help everyone put their best step forward,” Semcken wrote. “Rather than lead to an overload of messages for hiring managers, initial outreach will be more informed and contextual,” she assured. Which suggests that hiring managers are currently being inundated by uninformed, irrelevant drivel. Based on the state of my LinkedIn inbox, with no jobs to offer anyone, it seems possible. In other words: Maybe AI can help make LinkedIn messages less spammy.
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