Creative Job Search
On-line Job Search Guide

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Employment Applications

Employment applications are an important part of your job search. Some employers require the application as the first step in the selection process. Others may not require it until later, while others may not require an application at all. No matter when the application is requested, it is an important job search tool. It provides an opportunity to sell your qualifications.

The employment application is used to obtain information about your qualifications and to compare you to other applicants. Companies may receive hundreds or even thousands of applications each year. Therefore, they look for ways to reduce the number of applications they will read thoroughly. The employer "screens out" many applicants based on various factors in the application. You need to do everything possible to create the "perfect" application. Following are some general guidelines for completing applications.

Visual Impact

Fill out the application neatly, with no errors in grammar or spelling. Print clearly, do not use abbreviations, use black ink, and respond to all questions. Use N/A, "not applicable," if the section does not apply to you. This shows the employer that you made an honest effort to fill out the entire application; you didn't overlook anything. If you are seeking professional or office jobs, you may want to type the application.

Follow Directions

Read the entire application before you complete it. Pay close attention to what is being asked and how you are expected to respond. Read and honor sections that say "Do Not Write Below This Line" or "Office Use Only." These sections may give you insight into the evaluation process.

Be Positive

During your job search you want to present a positive, honest picture of yourself. Avoid any negative information. Look for ways that show you are the right person for the job. Think of what you would look for in an employee, if you were an employer.

Be Honest

You must be truthful on an application. The information you provide may become part of your permanent employment record. False information can become the basis for dismissal. Only provide information the employer is seeking or is necessary to sell your qualifications.

Target Your Qualifications

Many applications have limited space to display your skills, experience, and accomplishments. Increase your chances of gaining an interview by carefully selecting what you will include on the application. Display your qualifications that meet the specific needs of the job. Advance knowledge of the company, its products or services, and especially the skills needed to do the job will help you choose the appropriate information to include. For ideas and techniques on doing employer research, turn to pages 49, 51, and 54 in this workbook.

Position Desired

When answering the question, "Position Desired?", never leave it blank or use the responses "Any" or "Open." Employers will not try to figure out where you fit in their organization. If the job is an advertised job, or if you are looking for a specific position, enter that job title. When you are not applying for a specific position, state the name of the department in which you wish to work. If you are interested in more than one job, fill out more than one application.

Salary Requirements

When asked about salary requirements, it is best to give a salary range or to respond with "negotiable." Use one of these responses even if you know the wage. You never know what the future holds and you could negotiate a higher salary. Remember that questions about salary may be "knockout" questions used to reduce the number of applicants.

Reasons for Leaving

Choose your words carefully when responding to this question. Some responses carry negative connotations and may provide a swift way for the employer to eliminate your application from consideration.

Illegal Questions

Applications may contain questions that are tricky or even illegal. These may include questions about age, gender, disabilities, health, marital status, children, race, and arrests or convictions. You need to decide how you will respond. If the question does not bother you, answer it. If it does, you may want to use NA or a dash (-). But beware, you may get screened out by having too many of these responses.

Tips for Completing an Application

Checkit.gif - 0.2 K Whenever possible, take the application home. At home, you can fill it out where you are comfortable and able to take your time.

Checkit.gif - 0.2 KUse correction fluid, such as "White Out," for fixing minor errors. Be sure to use it sparingly. Consider using a black, erasable pen.

Checkit.gif - 0.2 KWrite out responses using a separate sheet of paper before completing the application. An alternative is to obtain a second application.

Checkit.gif - 0.2 KDouble check grammar, spelling, and content. When possible, have someone proofread it.

Checkit.gif - 0.2 KPrepare a personal data sheet. Use it as a reference sheet when completing applications, writing resumes, and interviewing. Collect data that might be requested: dates, names, addresses, telephone numbers, etc. The following pages contain the outline for a personal data sheet. Once completed, keep it with you for reference.

Personal Data Sheet

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This page was last updated on April 17, 1997
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