Quick Tips For Filling Out Job Applications

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With the move to online job searching, more and more companies are directing applicants to their websites in order to complete an online application. However, there are still times when you'll be given a job application to fill out and return.

If you've never had to deal with a job application before or if it's been a long time, completing an application can be a challenge. One problem that causes frustration is that the requested information is structured in a way that may not give you the opportunity to really market yourself. The blanks are often small, forcing you to compress what you had planned to say or only giving the barest of details. It's important to keep in mind that even if you don't care for the application, this is how the employer wants you to give it to them. Just like a resume, the overall impact of your job application will be the determining factor in being asked for an interview.

There are some things you can do to make your application stand out. Here are a few tips:

Make a copy of the application before you begin. This was an idea that I'm embarrassed to admit that I never thought of until I began researching for this blog. If you don't have access to a copy machine, you might be able to find one at your local library or post office. Also, if you have a scanner/printer combo, there is often a copy option. By making copies of the application, you can use one as a rough draft and once you have everything correct, simply copy it over for a final draft that's neat and free from errors. If you aren't able to use a copy machine, at least sketch out the application on a sheet of paper and write down everything before writing on the actual application.

Use black ink or type the application. Many experts suggest typing you application in order to make it look neater. It's a really good idea, however, if you're like me, you don't have access to a typewriter. After all, who still has those lying around? If you are able, you can scan the document into your computer and fill it out using a word processing program and then print it, but not everyone knows how to do that. If typing isn't an option, it's perfectly acceptable to neatly print the information in black ink. This is another place where having several copies of the application help. It's more difficult to write neatly when you're thinking. When you copy the information over for your final draft, you can be as neat as possible.

Fill out the application completely. It's really tempting to skip over difficult parts like your educational experience or work history and instead just attach a copy of your resume and cover letter. Don't make this mistake. Often, employers will look at your resume and cover letter as supplemental information. It's always best to fill in each blank on the application. If certain questions aren't applicable, simply mark them with "N/A." When filling out the previous work experience section, be sure to give current contact information for each employer. Since space is limited, be sure to start your sentences with verbs when you are describing your previous job duties.

Keep a copy of every application. After you complete your final draft, make a copy of the application to keep with your records. If you are asked for an interview, bring the copy with you so that you have something to refer back to. Also, having copies of completed applications with all of the information already written in really makes the process easier when you fill out a new one.

Job application don't have to be hard. When you're accustomed to submitting resumes and cover letters, they can sometimes be confusing. With a little forethought and preparation, they can be simple.

Have you had to fill out a job application lately? What were your experiences? Please share your thoughts in the comments.


Additional Source: Eastern Shore Career Guide

Image by Stuart Miles / freedigitalphotos.net


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  • Ilona J
    Ilona J
    Thank you for the information.
  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    @Alifi - Typically an employer provides you with an application to fill out. Most of the information will be the same as what is on your resume.@Holly - Thank you. Staying organized makes the job search much easier.
  •  ALIFI N
    Pls what is the correct way of starting an application.because am beinging to be confused. Different people with different style..pls tell me those that is Supose to be in resume and cover page that is not meant to be in application. Tanks God bless u as u hElp me out of dis confusion by giving me a written example for me to examine.
  • Holly R
    Holly R
    Nice tip on keeping a copy of the completed application & taking it to your interview.  Great idea.My past jobs have included doing employment interviews. I would have been most impressed with an applicant that was that organized and through, as well as very prepared.
    its an easy way to search job. thanks
  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks for all of the great comments.@Marcia - On a job application, where space is limited just say that you wanted a new challenge. During the interview, you can elaborate and say that you felt that you're time was finished with that company and that you had achieved all that you could. So, you decided to make a change.@Shelly - Thanks, when I researched this article, I found that tip and I was amazed that I didn't think of it first. Copying the application is just such a great idea!@Janis - Promoting yourself is the best way to land the job you really want. We have all sorts of articles about how to impress a hiring manager or how to stand out. This article was just about filling out job applications.@Alexis - Thanks for the comment. I know, we younger generation have so much we can learn from yours.
  • Marcia K
    Marcia K
    Filling out an application doesn't give you the chance to fully explain all of your experience.The part that says why did you part from this employer is difficult to answer because I am older and have stayed 7 years at two of jobs.  You know sometimes I think I overstayed my time.  Employers sometimes like change and it is time to leave, so my question is what do you put down for an answer.
  •  Terri W
    Terri W
    it was really an experience, given the fact that i just graduated from college with no job experience!
  • Michele (Shelly) Slimak
    Michele (Shelly) Slimak
    I found this article most useful, especially printing and completing the application prior to submission guaranteeing the application is filled out completely.  Thanks for the good advice.
  • Michele Slimak
    Michele Slimak
    I am currently unemployed (laid off due to Cost Containment Program) and find this article very informative and helpful.
  • Janis R
    Janis R
    I believe your explanations are too generalized and lack a good example.  What would really help would be examples of what others that have said that got them the job.  Many people have the skills or experience but perhaps are not getting the point across to the hiring agent.
  • Alexia S
    Alexia S
    This was well written, except for the next to last paragraph where "job application" should have been 'job applications'.  The information is appropriate for today's generation as the are so used to using computers and I Phones.  As one of the 'baby boomer' generaton, where applications were always required, I learned early to carry a completed copy of an application with me in my wallet.  All the information was available and copying it was easy. Good work!
  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks for the great comments. @Rosalinda, you may be able to print out an online application and then work on it. You'll probably still have to type everything into the online version, but working it out with pen and paper first could help you keep the information straight. @Katherine, I'm sorry that you're having such a hard time finding a job. If you honestly believe that it's not what you know, it's who you know - find and meet those people. If having a stronger professional network will give you a leg up on your job search then do it. Identify a few people that could help you and find them online, get mutual acquaintances to introduce you or whatever it takes - then you can use who you know to get the job.
  • Rosalinda S
    Rosalinda S
    Most of the applications are online and I'm not good on filling the blanks and pasting or building up my resume. Not good with computer and so hard to fill everything and I leave it blank most of the time. Good advice on copying the application before filling it up but how do you copy from online filling? Thanks, Rosalinda
  • Katherine M
    Katherine M
    Here is one for you ! I was a Nurse for 21 years, I was very good at it but now it is no longer about taking care of the patient its about pleasing the STATE so I can't do this any more.I have filled out so many apps I can't remember NO ONE wants to give me a chance no matter how many KEY words I use or how many different ways I present myself,I think its not WHAT you its WHO you KNOW !
  • Rocha N
    Rocha N
    Making a copy of the application is an excellent idea.  It will when you want to follow-up or to review before the actual interview.
  • Christine G
    Christine G
    A paper application is just an introduction about yourself and experiences to the prospective employer.  What is really going to count is how you present yoiurself at the interview.

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