What Is a Job Application?

Definition & Example of a Job Application

Woman filling out a job application.
••• tdub303 / Getty Images

A job application is a form that employers ask job applicants to fill out to learn about their work history. These forms are often completed online, but some businesses still use paper applications.

Learn more about job applications and what to expect when you complete one.

What Is a Job Application?

A job application is an official form that employers ask all applicants for a position to fill out. You may fill out the application through a third-party job listing site or by visiting the website of the potential employer. Some employers may ask you to fill out a paper application.

Employers use job applications because they provide a consistent format with the same questions that must be answered by each person who applies for an open position. Employers can easily compare the background and work experience of each applicant.

  • Alternate definition: The materials you submit to be considered for a job, including your resume and cover letter
  • Alternate name: Employment application

How Job Applications Work

Unlike a resume and cover letter, which are written and formatted to highlight your most significant and impressive credentials, a job application is a list of questions that require factual responses. Some of the items you'll typically be asked to include are:

  • Your personal information (name, address, email address, and phone number)
  • Dates of employment
  • Positions held
  • Names and contact information for supervisors
  • Dates and subject area of degrees
  • Where your degree was obtained (if applicable)

Fill out the application thoroughly, and proofread it for errors before you submit it. If you're given a paper application to complete, see if you can take it home so you don't feel rushed while filling it out.

Job applications may also ask for the names and contact information of references and employers, especially direct supervisors. You may also be asked if your prospective employer can contact your current employer. You can answer yes or no; employers understand that you may not want your current employer to know you're looking for another position.

The job application may also ask for your Social Security number and your availability for work.

At the end of the job application, you'll be asked to sign or e-sign the application. Your signature verifies that all statements on the job application are true. It may also allow the employer to verify the information and give permission for reference checking, background checking, and often, reviewing the results of drug testing.

Some states don't allow employers to ask applicants about their criminal history, and federal law requires employers to look at each applicant's circumstances around what crime was committed and how long ago the conviction was.

Example of a Job Application

Seeing a sample job application can help you prepare and gather the information you need before you get started.

Sample Job Application Form

Today’s date: ____________________

Name of position for which you are applying: _________________

Name: ________________________________________________

Address: ______________________________________ Apt./Unit________________

City: ___________________ State: __________________

ZIP Code: ______________

Phone: ___________________ Email Address: _____________

When are you able to begin work? _______________________________________

Are you legally eligible to work in the U.S.? Yes No

Have you worked for this company in the past? Yes No Details: _______________________________________________

Employment History

Position Title: _____________________________________________________

Responsibilities: ___________________________________________________

Employer: _______________ From: __________ To: __________

Employer address: _________________________________________________

Manager: ______________________Phone: ____________________

May we contact this employer? Yes No

Reason for leaving: _______________________________________________

Position title: _________________________________________________

Responsibilities: _______________________________________________

Employer: _______________From: __________ To: __________

Employer address: _____________________________________________

Manager: ___________________Phone: ____________________

May we contact this employer? Yes No

Reason for leaving: ___________________________________________

Position title: ________________________________________________

Responsibilities: ______________________________________________

Employer: _____________________ From: __________ To: __________

Employer address: ___________________________________________

Manager: ______________________Phone: ____________________

May we contact this employer? Yes No

Reason for leaving: ___________________________________________

Educational Background

Highest degree earned: ________ School: ______________________

Major: ________________Minor(s): _________________

Dates attended: From: ______________ To: ______________

Degree earned: ______________ School: ______________________

Major: ________________Minor(s): _________________

Dates attended: From: ______________ To: ______________

Degree earned: ______________ School: ______________________

Major: ________________Minor(s): __________________

Dates attended: From: ______________ To: ______________

List any work-related training and certifications. ___________________________________________________

References

Reference #1

Name __________________________________

Title ____________________________________

Contact information ________________________

Years known ______________________________

Reference #2

Name __________________________________

Title ____________________________________

Contact information ________________________

Years known ______________________________

I authorize you to verify the information listed above. I certify that the information contained in this employment application is accurate and truthful. I understand that providing false information on this application may be grounds for not offering me employment or for the termination of my employment at any point in the future.

Applicant signature: ______________________________________ Date: ________________

Key Takeaways

  • A job application is a form that employers ask job applicants to fill out to learn about their work history.
  • You may fill out the application through a third-party job listing site or by visiting the website of the potential employer.
  • You'll be asked to include your personal information, previous employers, and educational information.

Article Sources

  1. Nolo. "Can Application Forms Ask Me About Criminal Arrests or Convictions?" Accessed June 27, 2020.

  2. Probation and Pretrial Services Office. "Sample Job Application." Accessed June 27, 2020.

  3. Alaska Division of Employment and Training Services. "Employment Application." Accessed June 27, 2020.