Preparing for the job application

One of the most important parts of any job interview is the application. Filling out the job application may be part of what gets you hired, or not. Even if you provide a resume, the potential employer may still need questions answered on a job application. Three main items must be considered when filling out the job application.

  • Information Requirements
  • References
  • The Application Presentation

Information Requirements

Every job application will require a minimum amount of information. When filling out the job application, especially when also providing a resume, the information must be correct and complete. Four basic items you will be asked about include:

  • Education - places, length of study, GPA and if you graduated
  • Job history - names, places, dates, supervisors names, contact information and why you left
  • Military service - dates served, date and type of discharge
  • Social security card - this provides legal identification for proof of citizenship

A good tip is to write this information down beforehand. When filling out the job application you simply copy the information over; making answering questions about discrepancies or missing information less likely.

References

Every job application will require a list of references, even those using a resume. References are used to judge both work and personal abilities. There are three good sources for references.

  • Former employers - every potential employer will want to know the opinion of former employers about your work.
  • Teachers - if you recently graduated, teachers can also provide information about your abilities and previous work.
  • Others familiar with your work - if you have little job experience use people who you have worked with; volunteer organizations and people you have worked with but not paid by.

It should be noted that two references which should be avoided simply because of potential bias are clergy and family or close friends. Employers view this as attempting to pad the application.

Reference Information

When filling out the reference portion of the job application, be sure that your references are aware they will be supplying this service for you. Answering questions about a job application without prior notice can surprise references causing problems. Here are three pieces of information you will want when filling out the resume section for job applications.

  • Permission - always ask potential references for permission to use their name; if the person can't provide a good reference, they can decline and save you embarrassment.
  • Name - have the proper use and spelling of their name; use the proper title with their name
  • Contact information - be sure to have the correct address and phone number for your references; if the employer can't reach the reference, it will appear as an attempt to mislead or pad the information.

Providing references who will be able and willing to give positive accounts of your skills and personality helps employers answer questions about the job applicants.

Telling Signs

There is more to filling out the job application than providing information. Many questions about the job application will be answered without your realizing it. The overall application speaks to your ability and attitude as well. When answering questions on a job application, remember these four tips:

  • Neatness - illegible and messy writing tells an employer that you are possibly unorganized or don't take time to consider the finished product
  • Completeness - incomplete applications or blank spaces mean you are either hiding information or rush through your work causing incomplete results
  • Accuracy - inaccurate information gives an appearance of carelessness and a lack of attention to detail
  • Understanding - following directions and showing an understanding of what is required are essential parts of any job

Filling out the job application should not be rushed or haphazard. The questions answered on the job application involve not only the written information, but also how the information is presented to the employer. Preparing for the application requires little time but can provide positive results during the interview process.