How to Ask for a Job Application

Woman filling out application
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Depending on the type of job you're applying for, stopping by at an organization to apply in person can be an excellent way to make a positive impression and to secure a job application – provided you go about things the right way.

Many employers in the retail and hospitality industries expect job applicants to apply in person. So do employers who hire for summer and part-time jobs. Applying directly to the employer can be a good way to get your application noticed. In a way, asking for a job application in person is like engaging in a mini-job interview. At the very least, you’ll have a chance to impress a potential coworker, and you might get to meet the boss.

It’s essential to prepare just as you would for an interview. Make sure that you’re all set to make a positive impression. Here's information on what to bring with you to apply, what to wear, what to say and how to follow up after you have applied for the job.

What to Wear

It's important to be sure that you are dressed neatly and have a polished professional appearance when you make your inquiry. In general, you should dress a bit more formally than would be expected in your target job. When in doubt it is better to overdress than underdress. Do take the time to dress appropriately because the first impression you make can make a big difference when it comes to getting hired.​

Prepare an Introduction

The easiest way to ask for an application is to figure out what you're going to say ahead of time. If you're nervous, practice. Prepare a short 15-second introduction to garner the interest of whomever you first meet. Your introduction should mention your interest in working with that employer.

For example, you might say, "Hi, I'm very interested in any office jobs which may be available for college students. I am a detail-oriented business major with strong computer skills and have experience interacting with the public from my admissions job on campus. Could I possibly pick up an application if one is required or drop off my resume?" You could also say, "I'm very interested in a summer job, could I please have an application to fill out?"

Manners Matter

Make sure you show respect for any receptionist or another seemingly low-level employee because they may have the power to decide on the spot if you should be considered for any vacancies. Smile warmly, look the person in the eye as you greet them and exude enthusiasm. Everything else being equal a polite, friendly and motivated candidate will receive greater consideration. If you were hiring for a job, wouldn’t you want to choose a person who seems pleasant to be around?

When to Fill Out the Application

You can either fill out the application right away or take it with you and return it when it's complete. If the employer has space for candidates to complete applications you can sit there. Or, go outside the building and come back with the completed application when you're done. Be sure you have all the information you need including your education and employment history and references. Bring your own pen – in fact, bring two, in case the first one runs out of ink.

Another option is to pick up the application and complete it later. It's fine to take the application home and return it at another time. If you do, you'll be able to carefully and accurately complete it and make sure there are no errors. Ask a friend to proofread your work, to make sure you haven’t overlooked any errors.

In-Store Job Application Systems

Large retail employers may have hiring kiosks instead of paper applications.

With this type of system, you fill out the application on a computer in the store. Walmart and Target, for example, have hiring kiosks in all their stores. Be sure you have all the information with you that you'll need to apply.

How to Follow Up

When you have submitted a job application but haven't heard from the employer, it can be a good idea to follow up. Stopping back in to check on the status of your application will show that you are interested in the job.​