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career insider


Completing an employment applicat

ion, on the surface, it appears to be a routine and mundane part of the interview process. No problem! Just fill in the blanks and sign the bottom. Wrong! Bad news for the unsuspecting, one or two mistakes or an oversight on the application can invite disaster. The application is a very important first step in the interview process and must be carefully completed.

Here are a few tips to guide you to a successful completion of your application.

Be sure to fill in all the blank spaces. Do not leave any question unanswered. Any box or space left blank can cause doubt that you may have missed or overlooked the question. When word answers are requested, use “N/A” for not applicable. When number answers are requested, use the zero symbol or “none” as your answer instead of leaving a blank space.

The visual impact of your completed application reveals a lot about you. Very small print or sloppy, illegible handwriting can quickly launch your application to the universal trash pile. Be sure to print, do not write, print your words as large as possible within the space provided. Request that the company mail you two or three copies as early as possible. Make every effort to complete your application prior to the interview day. Do not submit an application with erasures, whiteout, or crossed-out words. This is your first written impression and neatness does count.

Double-check the accuracy on all your statements of income. When listing hourly, monthly or yearly wages, overstating amounts can disqualify your submission. If your work experience includes consulting, be extra careful about your earning statements. You may be asked to submit a 1099 tax form for verification. You may be asked to furnish W-2 forms if your last position was salaried.

Use your resume as a guide to guarantee that all your dates agree. If you are stretching dates to cover periods of unemployment, be careful not to be too creative. If you have extended periods of unemployment, it is best to be honest. Be prepared to explain the gaps. After being hired, falsification of any type can be cause for later termination.

Your dated signature is required to complete the paperwork. Your signature and date creates bona fide documentation that the information stated is accurate. Your signature authorizes the employer the right to check your work background, credit history, driving record and criminal history.

RECAP: Resumes can be creative and many contain overstatements. The employment application is quite different because it is your statement of fact. This signed document implies that everything you stated is true. The caveat is to be aware of its importance and be truthful in your content.

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George Gurney has been a leader in the employment industry since 1976. He founded an executive search firm that conducts domestic and international assignments.  He has won numerous awards for recruiting excellence.  He has been a guest speaker at national conventions and seminars.