How to Fill Out a Job Application

Employment application form with pen; document is mock-up
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When you apply for a job, you are typically asked to complete an employment application. You may be asked to complete a job application even if you've already submitted a resume and cover letter. Asking all candidates for the same information standardizes the job application process.

Also, the employer will have a record of your personal and employment history, verified and signed by you. When you sign the application, you are confirming that all the information on it is accurate, so it's important to be sure it's correct.

It's important for your job applications to be complete, error-free, and accurate. 

Information Needed to Complete a Job Application

Regardless of whether you complete an online job application or apply in-person, make sure you have ready all the information you'll need in advance. The list below includes all the information you need to complete an application for employment.

Personal Information

  • Name
  • Address
  • City, State, Zip Code
  • Phone Number
  • Email Address
  • Eligibility to work in the U.S.
  • Felony Convictions (in some locations)
  • If underage, working paper certificate

Education

  • Schools/Colleges Attended
  • Training Programs
  • Degrees/Diplomas/Certificates
  • Graduation Dates(s)

Employment Information

  • Names, addresses, and phone numbers of previous employers
  • Supervisor's Name
  • Dates of Employment
  • Salary
  • Reason for Leaving

References

  • List of three references, including names, job title or relationship, addresses, phone numbers

Position Applied For Information

  • Title of the job you are applying for
  • Hours/days available to work
  • When you can start work

Resume

If you're applying online, there may be an option to upload your resume as part of the application.

Application Questions You Don't Have to Answer 

There are some questions that shouldn't be on a job application. You are not required to answer questions about race, ethnicity, religion, creed, national origin, public assistance, sex, marital status, sexual orientation, age, or disability.

How to Get the Information You Need to Apply

Double-check to make sure that you have all the information you need so you're ready to apply right away for open positions, and so that you're providing the employer with your most current education and employment status. 

Review Your Employment History: You'll need your resume (or a list of your employment and education history) to make sure that you're listing the correct dates of employment, job titles, and education. Your resume should match the job application perfectly because discrepancies will be noticed.

Download a Sample Job Application: Download a job application sample and practice filling it out. That way you can be sure that you have all the necessary information, in advance. That will make it easier to apply. 

Ask for an Application Form: If you're applying for a position in-person, ask for a job application form, then take it home with you to complete. You can take your time filling it out so it will be neat and accurate when you return to drop it off.

How to Make the Best Impression

When You Apply In-Person: When you stop by to pick up or drop off a job application form, be sure you're dressed appropriately. You may end up speaking to the hiring manager, and it's important to look professional just in case you get an on-the-spot interview.

In-Person Job Application Checklist:  If you review an in-person job application list beforehand, you'll avoid making any glaring errors during the interview process.

When You Apply Online: Job application forms for many companies are often available online, so be ready to complete them. For example, a Walmart Employment Application can be completed online, and the same holds true for many other large national employers. In fact, some employers no longer accept paper applications, and applicants are required to apply on the company website or on the site where the company listed the job openings.

Always Follow the Instructions:  Explicitly follow the instructions when completing both online and paper job applications. The slightest error could knock your application out of the running before an employer even gets a chance to look at it.

You might also want to check the company website or the fine print on the job application form, to verify you've followed the directions as instructed.

Review Before You Submit: Thoroughly read the instructions for applying for employment before you click the submit button (or hand in your application). Make sure every field is filled in. Some companies refuse to accept an incomplete application.

Notify Your References: Let your references know that you've listed them on your application so that they can expect an email or a call.

Be Prepared to Take a Test:  Some companies test applicants for employment in order to determine whether the candidate is a good match for the job. Companies who conduct pre-employment tests (such as talent assessments) are seeking applicants that match their precise hiring criteria. 

Being prepared for employment tests will help you respond better to employment-related questions. Some companies require drug tests for applicants seeking employment.

Review Sample Job Applications and Letters

Remember, the more prepared you are, the better your chances of getting hired. It pays to review sample job applications to give you an idea of what will be asked of you. It also pays to print out one or two application forms and complete them, so you know you have all the information needed to complete actual employment applications.

If you need to mail a job application or follow-up on an application you've submitted, take the time to review some sample job application letters for examples of what to write and how to follow up. 

Article Sources

  1. CareerOneStop. "Job Applications," Accessed Dec. 12, 2019.