Job applications provide information to employers about applicants' work history, and help them decide who would be qualified for the job. When you fill one out, it's your chance to tell employers that you have the skills they need. Make sure this first impression is positive.
States have different laws about declaring your criminal record on job applications. It is important to be honest, while also giving only the necessary information. Some applications ask only about felonies, and not misdemeanors. Others ask only about convictions in the past seven years.
Also, employers may need to know what is on your record, but don't need the whole story. Keep your responses to-the-point for a better chance of getting an interview. Then you can explain any details necessary face-to-face.
Often employers require candidates to complete a job application on the company website, using a job search website, or using a computer station at their location. You may have a limited time to complete the online application and will need your work history, schooling and reference information with you.
Applying in person
When going to a company to fill out an application in person, keep these points in mind:
- Be polite and respectful to everyone you meet — from the time you enter the parking lot to the time you meet with the potential employer.
- Assume that you are being observed while filling out the application. Employers want to see if you seem like someone who will represent their company well.
- Dress as if you were going for an interview.
- Learn some facts about the company before you go to apply. Then you can impress them if you are asked to interview on the spot.
Job application tips
Read each question on the application completely. Only give the information that is requested.
Bring a record of your past jobs and schooling, or keep a copy of an old job application filled out with the information you need. This includes prior employment - employer's name, address, dates worked, job title, main responsibilities, and contact information for your references. You will also need school or training program names, dates, and any special courses, degrees or certificates earned.
Complete the application neatly and completely. Follow directions, and sign "release of information forms." Not signing these forms could be a red flag to employers.