American Job Centers


Applications-The Truth - Brochures - Job Search - One-Stop Career Centers


Download this brochure (Word document, 92KB, download Word viewer for free) - a sample application is included


Applications are intended to highlight those who seem qualified, and eliminate those who do not appear to be qualified: some would say, to screen out applicants. It could be a barrier between the applicant and your new boss. We have learned how to deal with barriers; this situation is no different.

Your application is handled by a personnel department that reviews hundreds of applications a year, or even thousands, in larger organizations. The chances are limited that yours will grab the attention of a personnel clerk searching for just the right combinations of skills and experience. The sad truth is that often an application gets less than a minute’s worth of attention before it is filed in a cabinet or scanned into a database.

Personnel is responsible for recruiting and organizing the applicant files. It is not a glamorous job, but it needs to be done and it is very "specific" for the organization. Speaking with several personnel staff discloses that timing and knowing someone at the company are probably the best things that can happen for an applicant. In most cases, timing is the more important of the two. It is not uncommon to hear that a company’s personnel staff will conduct recruitment, even though they have file cabinets filled with potential candidates. The reasons are varied that the current files are not pulled. Quite often it is "believed" the files are filled with "old applications" of people who have probably moved out of the area, or by now are over-qualified, or it is believed the "aged" phone numbers are inaccurate.

Whatever the reason, the recruiting decision is made and the need for talent is immediate. Often the recruitment announcement is first circulated to existing staff and then through the various marketing channels to the public. At this point, competition has become universally public and the employer’s personnel department receives hundreds of applications from people who are currently seeking employment. Remember the person screening the applications will most likely be working from a job description, which may or may not be current. And again, the person screening may have little knowledge about the position other than the one they currently occupy.

Tips on Completing Applications

  1. It is very important that every blank is completed. Either provide the requested information or write in "not applicable" by using the following notation: "N/A".
  2. Be sure to follow instructions: Last Name – First – Middle.
  3. Scribbling out mistakes is a BIG mistake. Use an erasable pen or pencil. Better yet, type your application. Note: Some employers will not let you leave with a blank application, so complete a blank generic application in advance and carefully rewrite the information on the employer’s application. Pay particular attention to your handwriting/penmanship.
  4. Again, there is no reason to leave out information. Look over your application several times before you submit it.
  5. Be sure you are certain about any numbers you use. Is the correct area code 310 or 301?
  6. Rather than leave any area blank that you do not have information for, state so by writing – NONE.
  7. Answer the question to the best of your ability by writing; Morning, Afternoon, or Evening. Try to be as specific as possible so you don’t miss a call. If you use an answering machine, make sure the message is business-like.
  8. Answer the question correctly and move on. Some applications will ask if you are over 18 years of age.
  9. Be specific! The reviewer is not a mind reader. If there are several jobs open that you are trained for, state so. You may need to fill out several applications. Always use the company’s job titles.
  10. Your research should give you a clear picture of the compensation you can expect. This is one place where you will want to do your homework.
  11. If you’re not clear, how can the reviewer give your application a fair review?
  12. Be specific with a date and a time. Don’t write ASAP and then go on 2 weeks vacation to celebrate acquiring a job! If you can start on the next working day, put that full date in the blank.
  13. You must know the business and the position you are applying for to answer this one. If the company operates 24 hours per day and 7 days per week and shifts are rotated, make sure before you complete the information that you can work variable hours and days. If the company works this system, a NO answer here and your application would be considered as non-responsive.
  14. Again, be specific! The reviewer doesn’t want to play a guessing game with you. To do so makes you the loser.
  15. There is only one rule when filling out an application, BE HONEST. Be sure to give the correct number. Leaving out a bad experience may cause you more trouble later.
  16. Neatness counts! Be neat even when you are filling in a square or putting an X over your answer. Be messy here and the reviewer may think you’ll be messy on the job.
  17. Honesty is the ONLY policy! Be sure that you understand the question. If you left your last job for a better position, your answer here would then be NO. If your boss told you to go find a different job, you would have to answer YES. Don’t try splitting hairs! It may cause you more trouble later.
  18. Details are important to employers. If you have to use extra paper to describe the occurrences, then you might want to consider serious employment counseling.
  19. If you are currently working, you should probably answer "No" and write, "Not at this time," below it. At your first interview, you can explain yourself. Most reviewers will understand your hesitation.
  20. Before you answer this one, be sure you know the correct answer. Speak with your past employers and make sure they have the time and good words to say about you.
  21. Employer information must be 100% complete. Anything less will definitely find your application on the way to the trash. You may not need the exact day, but you must include the month and year for your periods of employment. Your job titles are critical, were you just a "cook" or were you a "line cook". It may mean a difference in pay!
  22. What can one say! Blank = Trash.
  23. Read the instructions and then follow them exactly! One of the questions on the front of the application asked about "how many employers in the past 5 years;" you must complete the information for a third employer if necessary. Be consistent. . . a trait employers value!
  24. Honesty is the ONLY policy!
  25. Read the instructions carefully. Don’t assume anything. The reviewer may be new to the area and not know what a high school abbreviation stands for. Also have a clear understanding about the question. What does, "Degree Awarded" really mean? Your answer may be General or College Preparatory. Don’t hesitate to ask.
  26. Be prepared to list everything that will be considered a plus and be sure not to leave anything out.
  27. Honesty and neatness are the hallmarks of a great application!
  28. Make sure you have permission to use someone’s name and information as a reference. Be sure to include all of the information requested. You may want to add the e-mail address.
  29. Not reading and understanding the instructions will only insure that your application is considered non-responsive. The information contained in an application is pretty much universal. It is for that reason that you should carry all your information with you when applying. Don’t ask for an application and not be in a position to fill it out 100% and be prepared for an on-the-spot interview!
  30. An old girl/boy friend might not be the best reference! Also, you probably don’t want to include your spiritual adviser. Never give out a pager number. Most reviewers will not have the time to wait for a call back.
  31. Who do you want notified if you become ill or injured on the job? Have the necessary information available.
  32. The application is a legal document. Most applications will have statements requesting that you date and sign that the information on the application is true and complete.

Return to the top of the page