Top Three Pieces of Advice from Employers ...
1. Be thorough, neat, and detailed. Make sure your handwriting is legible.
2. Apply alone (not with a group of friends or your children).
3. Communicate what skills you can bring to the employer.
The job application may be your only opportunity to convince an employer that you are
a good match for the company's job opening. You may be competing
with dozens of other job seekers. How can you make sure your
application stands out and leads to an interview and doesn't end
up in the pile that won't be considered? Employers tell you what
they look for in a job application.
WHAT ITEMS DO EMPLOYERS LOOK AT FIRST?
Completeness and Neatness
- Blanks or incomplete answers may disqualify you so make sure you answer every
question. Bring information with you so that you can give dates,
company names, names of supervisors, names of references,
addresses and phone numbers for each. Make sure you print
neatly. Most employers prefer you to use ink.
- Relate your experience to the job opening. Employers also look at how long you were at
WHAT SHOULD I PUT IN "POSITION APPLIED FOR?"
- Never just put the word "anything" or "doesn't matter." Be specific
and honest about what you are looking for. If you don't know
what kind of positions the company has, ask someone. A general
position like "warehouse" or "clerical" may
be appropriate if you don't know specific job titles.
SHOULD I GIVE A MINIMUM SALARY?
- Be realistic about the minimum you will accept. Put it on the application if you will
not work for less.
- If you are willing to negotiate it's okay to put "negotiable." It's okay to
put in a salary range.
IF I QUIT OR GOT FIRED FROM A PREVIOUS JOB, WHAT SHOULD I DO?
- Don't lie. It's better to volunteer termination reasons; don't make the employer have to
ask. List negative reasons in a positive way.
- If you were terminated for a reason such as absenteeism, make sure you solve the problem
that caused you to miss work. You could put on the application
"Terminated - I was having car problems and missed work but
now have good transportation."
- Don't make negative comments about a former employer. You can put a statement such
as "quit - happy to discuss at interview" or
"quit - better opportunity."
WHAT IF I HAVE A SPOTTY WORK HISTORY?
- Gaps that aren't explained are red flags to employers. Explain reasons for leaving
short-term jobs. Job-hopping is negative if not explained.
WHAT IF I HAVE NEVER WORKED?
- Explain what you have learned from life's experiences and show how they can benefit
- List extra-curricular and volunteer activities, highlighting skills that can be
transferred to the job you are applying for.
WHAT IF I HAVE LIMITED READING, WRITING OR SPELLING SKILLS?
- Be honest about personal limitations. Complete the application yourself. Be sure your
application is complete even if your spelling isn't very good.
If you are attending classes, such as Adult Basic Education or
GED, to upgrade your skills put that information on the
WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE A TELEPHONE?
- Most employers require you to have a telephone or a reliable telephone contact where you
can receive messages. If you do give a message number, check
with that person frequently to make sure you get messages
WHO SHOULD I PUT FOR REFERENCES?
- Have both personal and business references ready. Don't use relatives. Be sure your
references know that you are using them. Have complete contact
information with you, including addresses and telephone numbers.
WHAT IF I HAVE CONVICTIONS ON MY RECORD?
- Employers can legally ask if you have been convicted of a felony. Background checks are
common so do not lie on the application.
- Don't apply for positions that may be inappropriate for your criminal history. Explain how
you have learned from your mistake.
SHOULD I INCLUDE RESUMES, REFERENCE LETTERS, CERTIFICATES, ETC.?
- Include a resume if you have one. Most employers do not want other things included. If
you do decide to include something, make it no more than one
page. Have all of these documents with you at an interview in
case you are asked for them.
HOW SHOULD I DRESS WHEN I GO TO FILL OUT AN APPLICATION?
- Dress appropriately for the position. Always be clean and neat. Remember you are making your
first impression. It should be a good one.
Pocket Resume (Word document, 318KB, download
Word viewer for free)