Why Employers Use an Application for Employment

••• Zave Smith/Corbis/Getty Images

Smart employers use an application for employment that is filled out by every candidate for a particular job. Employers worldwide use the employment application to gather consistent data about prospective employees.

The format for resumes and cover letters changes from person-to-person and the approach of every candidate on these documents is notably different. For example, a resume may not share the dates of employment, the names of supervisors, the location of the employer, or the educational background of a candidate.

The application for employment from an employer, however, collects consistent information in a uniform format from every applicant. This is because every applicant receives the same document that is asking the same questions.

The employment application provides a regular format with the same questions that must be answered by each person who applies for your open position. This allows employers to compare applicant credentials that are listed in the same order on a form, impartially.

The employer is able to compare credentials without regard for formatting, presentation, exaggeration, and hyperbole. These are often found in resumes and cover letters and this fact makes comparison shopping for the best candidate more challenging. Additionally, the complete information that you need to make a hiring decision is rarely available on the resume and cover letter.

Online Employment Application

Online employment application systems are used by a large percentage of employers. In addition to the factual data that a written application collects, an online employment application allows the employer to pre-screen and pre-qualify applicants.

The applicant tracking system allows employers to search online applications for employment for specific keywords, degrees, employment history, and other specifics to identify candidates who appear qualified for the open position.

An Application For All Applicants

These are the reasons why employers need to use an employment application for all job candidates. Employers want to ensure they have the following seven elements.

  1. Consistently gather the same data in the same format from each prospective employee. With an employment application, employers gain standardization of information requested. It makes comparisons of candidates' credentials easier.
  2. Gather information about the applicant's credentials that candidates would not usually include in a resume or cover letter. Examples include reasons why the applicant left the employ of a prior employer, felony or misdemeanor crime convictions, and names and contact information for immediate supervisors.
    Please pay attention to employment laws where you live and work. Increasingly legislation is prohibiting employers from using certain background information in employment decisions. Federal and state laws place limits on how employers can use these records in making job offer decisions.
  1. Obtain the applicant's signature attesting that all statements on the application for employment are true. If you allow the applicants to state: see resume (which is not advised), the statement should also say: "the applicant's signature attesting that all statements on the employment application and resume are true."
  2. Obtain the applicant's signature to enable the potential employer to check the veracity of all data provided on the employment application including employment history, education history, degrees earned, and so forth.
    Fraudulent claims and information on application materials, including fake degrees, exaggerated job descriptions, fake dates of employment, and other falsehoods are increasing.
    Employers need to verify all data provided by the candidate to ensure that you are hiring the qualified employee you expect. Potential employees who lie on application materials are not people who have the integrity and values you seek in employees.
  1. Get the applicant's signature to attest that he or she has read and understands certain policies and procedures of the employer that are spelled out on the employment application.
    These frequently include the fact that the employer is an at-will employer, that the employer is an equal opportunity, non-discriminating employer, and any other facts that the employer wants the applicant to read and understand on the employment application.
    When applicable, this includes information about the employer's policy that the applicant must pass a drug test prior to hire.
  1. Obtain the applicant's signature agreeing to background checks including criminal history, creditworthiness (for certain jobs), driving records (for certain jobs), and so forth as required by the job.
  2. Obtain voluntary self-identification data for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and to assure your own non-discriminatory hiring and diversity promotion practices and policies are followed.

Review With an Attorney

Make certain that your employment application complies with employment law in your state or jurisdiction. Various aspects of information requested on employment applications are not acceptable in some states, especially California.

Ask an attorney to periodically review your complete employment application giving special attention to areas such as criminal history, credit reporting, any aspect of job capability related to the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA), and length of time the application is active.

After the Application is Submitted

Courteous employers who seek a reputation as an employer of choice, send an application acknowledgment letter. The next step an applicant should expect, from an employer of choice, is either an applicant rejection letter or a request for an interview or phone screen.

In practice, based on the employer's initial screen of the resumes and cover letters received, applicants may avoid filling out an application due to their rejection by the employer as a viable candidate. The job application is generally filled out by an applicant when he or she is on-site at the employer's location.

They are frequently filled out in conjunction with an interview. Employers have become sensitized to the fact that filling out an application requires a lot of time from applicants that they may not further consider. So, the timing of your request for a job application should be sensitive and candidate friendly.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided, while authoritative, is not guaranteed for accuracy and legality. The site is read by a world-wide audience and employment laws and regulations vary from state to state and country to country. Please seek legal assistance, or assistance from State, Federal, or International governmental resources, to make certain your legal interpretation and decisions are correct for your location. This information is for guidance, ideas, and assistance.