by Kathy Sweeney, NCRW, CPRW, CEIC, CCM
Regardless of how you come to the attention
of a prospective employer - letter/resume, college placement
office, online job board, company website, networking, referrals,
or just dropping into a personnel office - sooner or later
every interested employer is going to ask you to complete
a company application form.
Lengthy job application forms may seem to
request information already supplied, but much can hinge on
the way they are handled. Since virtually every job applicant
comes armed with a resume providing pertinent information
about themselves, filling out an application seems like a
waste of time. But, most companies require application forms
and, since you can't avoid completing them, you might as well
learn to accept them and do them well.
There are good reasons why companies require
applications. Most companies feel that even though you have
presented them with a resume, you should fill out their standardized
form - which is designed to obtain information the company
needs to know.
It is used as a screening device, but more
importantly, it is used as part of the permanent employee
record as a legal document. It protects the employer in the
case of discrimination or falsification on the part of the
employee, which can be grounds for dismissal.
Applications can also be related to expenditure
approvals connected with employment interviews. If a Human
Resources Director is required to fly in out-of-town applicants,
it is easier to secure these approvals with a signed application
form, proving the person was at the interview.
Moreover, applications may be used instead
of resumes to provide a preliminary evaluation of your abilities
as a potential employee. In the area of screening, a formal
application blank provides a simple test of your ability to
spell, write, and give factual answers to questions.
Following are some basic rules when confronted
with an application blank.
- Avoid completing an application form in
an employer's office, unless you are there for an interview.
Ask to bring it in the next day or send it back later in
the week by mail.
- Don't touch an application blank with pen,
pencil or typewriter until you have made a photocopy. Work
on the copy and keep the original clean until you are ready
to fill it out in final form.
- Read every question carefully before answering
and follow all instructions to the letter. The way you fill
out the form, no matter how mundane, can speak volumes about
you. It represents you to people who have never met you.
If it is untidy, incomplete or inaccurate, you will be judged
- Fill out all blanks on the application.
Leaving any space blank can result many times in disqualification
for the position. If the question asked is not applicable
to your field, write in the response "N/A", but do not leave
- Be extremely careful with facts; they probably
will be checked out. Make sure that information on your
application does not contradict anything on your resume.
- When asked questions such as date you can
start, salary range, etc. phrases such as "Open" or "Negotiable"
are completely acceptable. This allows you to not be eliminated
prior to finding out about the position and speak- ing to
the Human Resources Director about specifics.
- Most importantly, remember to sign your
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