As someone who has been in charge of hiring and/or reviewing potential employees, I would like to give you a few tips for filling out job applications that will help you stand out above others who may also be applying. Some of these may seem like common sense, but I have come across hundreds of issues that applicants repeat over and over again. In this economy, where jobs are hard to find and even tougher to snag, you want to always present yourself in a positive way that sets you apart from the rest. Hopefully, following these tips for filling out job applications will give you a bit of an edge against your competition.
1. Do Not Fill out the Application inside the Business
It may seem as if filling out the application immediately will show that you are eager to get the job. More often than not, I’ve found it leaves a bad impression for a few reasons. I worked at a store that had a large counter, so it was pretty common for potential employees to take the application and fill it out right in front of me. Inevitably they would ask a question about how to fill it out that would lead me to think “If you can’t fill out the application on your own, how well would you really work out here?” I’m not saying don’t ask for help. I’ve had to ask for help or opinions on applications that I’ve filled out myself. Just do not ask the person who gives you the application. Take it home, ask your friends or parents or teachers to help explain a question to you. This is one of the tips for filling out job applications that I would suggest following.
2. Go It Alone
It is highly unprofessional to bring a friend with you to apply for a job, no matter what the position is. Even if you are applying at McDonald’s or a local retail job, walk in on your own to ask for an application. When I worked in the mall, I would constantly have swarms of teenagers coming up to me asking if I have applications and all 5 or 6 of them would want one. When applying for a job you need to show that you are independent, able to think for yourself and that you want THIS specific job that you are applying for, not just a job in general (even if that’s not the case, make it look like it is)!
3. Read All of the Questions and Answer Every Single One
Applications aren’t just a way to find out your information and past work history. They are also an excellent way to discover if you can read and follow directions effectively. If the instructions ask you to list your work history, starting with your most recent job, but you do the opposite, it either means you were incapable of understanding the directions, of you didn’t take the time to read them. Both of those indicate that you wouldn’t be a great candidate for the job. Leaving answers blank is even worse. Personally, if I am looking through a stack of applications, I first quickly scan each one and if there are blank spots, I don’t even bother reading the rest of it. Again, if you can’t be bothered to take the time to fill it out properly, why should I hire you?
4. Don’t Lie
When you list your past employers and/or references, make sure you are as truthful as you can be. It is true that some employers won’t call your references, but MOST will. And while more and more companies won’t “allow” personal opinions to be shared with a future employer when they call for a reference check, I can assure you, their feelings will come out either in their tone of voice, their hesitation in answering the questions we’re allowed to ask them or they will freely talk about you, even when they’re not supposed to. If what they tell the interviewer does not match what you put down on your application, it makes you look dishonest, and dishonesty isn’t something future employers look for.
5. Don’t Ask Suspicious Questions
I’ve been asked things like “So… do you guys drug test?” and “Now, will I get to take the store keys HOME with me?” Those applications go automatically into the “Do Not Hire” pile. You may think it’s funny to ask questions like that, but you don’t know the sense of humor of the person you’re talking to yet and “I’m funny” isn’t what you want to convey while job hunting (unless you’re applying for a stand up comedian job).
6. Print Clearly
Do not rush while filling out your application. This may seem like a no-brainer, but I’ve had any number of illegible applications. Print, don’t use cursive. Everyone has their own style of cursive and it can be confusing to a reader. Don’t cram your words together. If what you need to say will take up more space than is allotted, write it out on a separate sheet of paper and attach it to your resume after writing “see attached” in the space on the application.
7. Dress Appropriately
When you go in to pick up an application, as well as when you return to hand it in, you should always look your best. Short shorts and a belly-baring shirt are not appropriate attire when trying to find a job. You don’t need to wear a suit or a fancy dress, by any means, but you should look presentable and well groomed.
Hopefully these tips for filling out a job application will help you nail that job you’re trying to get! Always put your best foot forward and do everything in your power to leave an amazing first impression. Do you have any tips for filling out a job application the right way?