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Your Employment Application: All The "Do's"

Nov 25, 2007
One of the keys to landing a good job is learning how to complete an employment application. This application is the first contact that you have with a prospective employer, and it is the form an employer uses to acquire information about a prospective employee.

This usually includes name, education, work experience and references. In certain instances, the applicant may be required to furnish a social security number or be asked for permission to do a criminal background or credit check. Whether the application is an online form or actual paper, it can end up being either a simple page or an extensive document, requiring pages of specific information.

Generally, filling out an employment application is quite easy. You simply provide the details asked for, making sure to fill out the form in its entirety. Double check that you do not leave any blank spaces, unless the form specifically asks you to do so, for example, if the question does not apply to you.

Spelling should be correct and, if you are handwriting the application, handwriting should be legible. A great tip when filling in employment applications is to carry a complete list of work history and references with you, as this can cut the time it takes to appropriately fill out an application.

If asked to provide further information on experience, a resume may be a real advantage, although sometimes this information can be presented at the interview. Obviously, your intention is to reach the interview stage, so to include your resume with your application provides the employer with a snapshot of you, but do not do this if it is obvious that this additional information will not help your application, or the timing is not right.

While usually straightforward, there may still be queries on how to answer certain questions on an employment application. If you have never had a job before, work history can refer to any lifestyle, volunteer or group activities where the skills may be relevant to the job you are applying for. For instance, if you were applying for employment looking after young children and you are a mother, you are probably well suited to a job within that area.

For older applicants, it is unnecessary to put down your scholastic achievements unless they are specific to the job. One of the number one rules of filling out an employment application is to never give erroneous facts or exaggerate your experience. In general, most employers do check references, but they also have enough experience to spot falsehoods immediately.

There are federal laws that mandate what can and cannot be asked on an employment application. Questions on an application cannot request information about religious background, ancestry or marital status, for example. The only time age can be asked is to check that the applicant meets the minimum legal requirement for employment.

Height or weight may be asked only when it relates to carrying out certain duties of the job. For example, a woman of 5 feet in height would have extreme difficulty dealing with a job that involved performing the activities of daily living for an immobile man of 6 feet 8 inches! While it could probably be achieved, it would not serve the best interests of the client or the applicant.

Any question that is not relevant to what is required to execute a specific type of work are considered illegal and can lead to lawsuits. Luckily, this is a rare occurrence as in the mainstream employment workforce, employers do not concern themselves with such information. Most times, instances of legal action occur when the job is of a sensitive nature, for example, dealing with people on a physical level.

It can be difficult for an employer to balance the requirement for relevant questioning, with the actual requirements of the job. Personal information, such as height and weight, can create a huge impact on the ability of the applicant to carry out the tasks required. This is considered primarily in the best interests of the client and the applicant. So, whilst it is the relevant skills and experience of the applicant that is most at issue, there are instances where more personal information may be requested. You need to be aware of this, should you be contemplating employment in what would be deemed a sensitive area.

In summary, the key points are to present your application well, include any relevant material and most importantly, be honest. However much you want the job, you need to remember that if you are successful and end up happy in the job, and your employer is happy with you, the seeds are sown for a mutually rewarding experience within your employment.
About the Author
Sharron Nixon is a 44 year old mother of 3 who lives in New Zealand. She has put together extensive information covering everything to do with employment.
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