Question: “Is there a strategy for completing job applications?”
by Randall S. Hansen, Ph.D.
Of course there is a strategy for completing job applications. Everything you do as a job-seeker should be done with a strategy — a self-marketing strategy.
Why do employers use job applications? Many employers use applications as a way of standardizing the information they obtain from all job-seekers, including some things that you would not normally put on your resume. Your goal is to complete the application as completely and honestly as you can — all the time remembering that the application is a key marketing tool for you in the job-hunting process. Remember that some employers will use your application as a basis for deciding whether to call you for an interview.
And before you head out the door to start submitting applications, make sure you have all the key information you need to complete them, such as all your employment and educational information, names and contact information of references, salary history, social security number, licenses, and military records. It’s always better to have too much information than not enough. And if you have a resume, be sure to bring multiple copies with you.
One other precaution before heading out the door. Dress nicely and put some time into basic interview preparation, because you never know when you might actually be asked to talk with the hiring manager — or even have a job interview on the spot.
And once you get to actually completing the application, here are some other pointers:
- Read and follow instructions carefully. While most applications are pretty standard, it does not hurt to take a few minutes to review each one. Attention to details is an important job-seeker trait. Here’s a sample job application.
- Complete the application as neatly as possible. Take your time completing it. My penmanship is horrible, so I always need to take even extra time so that the writing looks professional. If you can complete the application online, even better.
- Tailor your answers to the job you are seeking. Most applications ask for details about your work history, and just as with your resume, you want to tailor your responses to showcase the skills you will use in the job you are applying for. No, this advice does not mean you should lie about your experiences. Always tell the truth on job applications.
- Don’t provide any negative information. Remember that the job application is an initial screening device, so you do not want to have any information that is going to be the cause for you to not get the job interview. So do not volunteer any negative information. For example, when asked why you left your last job, do not say your boss hated you or had a vendetta against you — even if you believe it to be true. On the other hand, if have a criminal record and the application asks you about it (and all that I have seen do), then you need to be honest about it — but if there were circumstances or lessons you learned, try to find a way to explain them.
- Proofread and double-check your answers before submitting the application. Make sure you have completed all sections — and fix any errors.
Read more in this article: A Job-Seeker’s Guide to Successfully Completing Job Applications.
This article is part of a series from The Career Doctor’s Cures & Remedies to Quintessentially Perplexing Career and Job-Hunting Ailments. Read more.
See a list of all the most common college, career, and job questions — and Dr. Hansen’s solutions.
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Dr. Randall S. Hansen is a nationally recognized career and job-search expert. He is founder of Quintessential Careers, one of the oldest and most comprehensive career development sites on the Web, as well CEO of EmpoweringSites.com. He is also founder of MyCollegeSuccessStory.com and EnhanceMyVocabulary.com. He is publisher of Quintessential Careers Press, including the Quintessential Careers electronic newsletter, QuintZine. Dr. Hansen is also a published author, with several books, chapters in books, and hundreds of articles. He’s often quoted in the media and conducts empowering workshops around the country. Finally, Dr. Hansen is also an educator, having taught at the college level for more than 15 years. Visit his personal Website or reach him by email at randall(at)quintcareers.com. Check out Dr. Hansen on GooglePlus.
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