Depending on the type of position you are looking for, part of your job search will likely include filling out applications. Employers use applications to identify candidates who have the skills and education to qualify for the position for which they are hiring. However, they may learn much more about you than just your qualifications. When filling out applications, whether on paper or on a computer, you have the opportunity to demonstrate that you are prepared, thorough, and follow directions.
In order to prepare for filling out employer applications, you should complete a sample application to carry with you throughout your job search. Your sample application should contain all of the details of your employment history, education, and skills. Be sure your sample application contains complete information, including dates, names, and addresses.
Having a sample application will make filling out an employer’s application much simpler and will give you the opportunity to impress your potential boss by being prepared to give the information being requested. You will also be able to fill out the application immediately and return it to the employer, be less likely to submit applications that are incomplete, and avoid making a poor impression by asking to borrow a phone book or telephone to obtain missing information.
When Completing Paper Applications:
Take your completed sample application.
- Carry two black pens (this means you don’t have to ask the employer for one—again showing that you are prepared).
- Read the entire application before beginning to fill it out to ensure that you understand everything that is being asked.
- Thoroughly complete the entire application, listing your most recent employment first.
- List N/A, meaning “not applicable,” for any sections that may not be applicable to you. This will indicate to the employer that you have considered the question.
- Include complete reference information.
- Before turning in the completed application, review it to ensure that you have answered all the questions and have made no mistakes.
When Completing Electronic Applications:
- Create an electronic document that contains all the information you are typically asked for on an application. The information that you should have readily available includes (1) your work history, including work dates (month, day, and year), the company’s name, your job title, and your job duties and (2) your references’ contact information. In addition to storing the document on your computer, save it on CD, DVD, or thumb drive that you can carry with you.”
- While applying for jobs, carry with you both a paper copy and an electronic version of your document as you conduct your job search. If for some reason you are not able to access your electronic version, you can refer to your paper copy, and if you are able to access the electronic version, you will be able to copy and paste information from it to the online application.
- Be prepared to upload a file of your current résumé or cut and paste the sections of your résumé to the company’s Web site.
- Ensure that you have enough time to complete the application. (Some public facilities that provide Internet access, such as a library, may cut your connection at the end of an hour whether you are through with the application or not.) Some application programs allow you to stop in the middle of the application process without losing information by asking you to create a user name and password.
- Read the job description carefully to identify keywords and skills to include in your résumé or application.
- Read the frequently asked questions (FAQ) section prior to beginning.
- Carefully follow all directions.
- Keep track of where you have applied. Record the company name, the Web address, the e-mail address of the contact person, the job title and reference number for which you have applied, the date you completed the application, an indication of which version of your résumé and cover letter was submitted, and the user name and password you used.
- Pay particular attention to those fields that are required. Many applications have required information fields that are indicated by an asterisk, bolding, a specific color, or some other marking. Those questions must be answered or you will not be allowed to proceed with the application. If, at the end of a page, you try to move forward and are not allowed to do so, you will generally be taken back to the top of that page, where instructions will be given about missing information.
- In certain fields (boxes) there may be a character limit that will restrict the amount of information you can enter in that field. Pay attention to see if there is information that you thought you inserted but the system did not accept.
- If you are asked to take an online personality or work ethics test:
- Take the tests in the mindset of the employer—what are they looking for in an employee?
- Take the test at a quick but even pace. You may be timed on how long you take to answer a particular question. The time may be analyzed to see what types of questions slowed the process (for example, have you ever used any company materials or computers for personal use?).
- Be honest!