Check your employment application form for key elements: items and questions you really need to have in your form, and items and questions you really need to delete.
This is important because missing elements — or wrong elements — can lead you to hire the wrong people. The following are key elements in a job application form:
Give applicants clear instructions for completing the form, at the top of the application.
Example: You must fill in this form completely to be considered for employment with (the name of the organization). If you cannot respond to an item, please provide a brief explanation for not responding. An incomplete application is not considered an application for employment with us. Please print plainly or type. Qualified persons are considered for employment without regard to race, color, religion, creed, gender national origin, age, marital status, veteran status, sexual orientation, or the presence of handicaps or disabilities.
Note: The last sentence above includes a list of classes and characteristics which are protected under federal, state and some community laws. Check the legally protected classes and characteristics under your own state and local laws.
Important: States and localities have different laws governing questions that are legal and not legal to ask applicants. Some of the items below may not be legal in your state and locality. Be sure to have your final draft of an application form reviewed by an attorney familiar with employment law in your state and locality.
Personal and Employment Information
- Name, Social Security Number, address, home phone number.
- Position or positions applying for.
- Are you legally eligible for employment in the United States? Yes___ No___.
- What days and hours are you available for work? Days______ Hours ____.
- Are you now employed? Yes____ No____.
- If “Yes” list employer’s name, address, and your current position.
- If “No” give exact number of days or weeks since leaving your last job and the reason for leaving.
- May we contact your present employer? Yes ___ No ___
Education and Training
Tell applicants to “list all degrees and courses of study which directly relate to your ability to perform the position or positions you are applying for.” Provide space for:
- Levels of schooling, including high school, business/trade/technical school, college, and graduate school.
- Name and location of school.
- Course of study.
- Number of years completed.
- Did applicant graduate?
- Type of degree or diploma.Note: Do NOT ask for the calendar years attended and calendar years in which the applicant graduated. This is because the employer and supervisor can usually calculate the applicant’s approximate age from the dates of graduation from high school and college. And the applicant’s age is risky information for the supervisor and employer to know.
- Special training. (Provide a brief space where the applicant can enter information about any special training which could be helpful in performing the job or jobs applied for.)
Work and Professional Experience
Tell the applicant to “list your complete full-time and part-time employment record, beginning with your current or most recent employer.”
For each employer, ask for:
- Employer name.
- Position held.
- Description of work performed.
- Supervisor’s name. Dates employed.
- Reason for leaving.
Note: Most important in this section is the supervisor’s name for each job held in the last three to five years. This is so, when you or the agency you have doing background checks makes the calls to former employers, you can ask for the applicant’s supervisors.
Include the following in your Application Form:
- “Please list additional skills, experience or abilities which qualify you for a position with (the name of the organization).”
- “Have you ever been discharged from any job? Yes___ No___.
- If ‘Yes’ list the employer’s name, address and reason for the discharge.”
- “Have you been convicted of a felony within the last (X-number) years? No___ Yes ___. (Conviction will not necessarily disqualify you from the position or positions for which you are applying.) If ‘yes’ explain the date and nature of the offense and the results of the conviction.”
Tell the applicant to “list only persons familiar with your work-related abilities. Do not include relatives.” Provide space for listing three to five references. For each, ask for name, address, and phone number.
Note: References who are simply family members, friends, former teachers, clergy members, and similar acquaintances of the applicant are of little use in helping you determine if the applicant has the qualifications to perform the job and to be a reliable employee. You or the agency you have doing background checks will want to speak with people who have knowledge of the applicant’s work-related qualifications.
End your application form with an agreement for the applicant to sign. Introduce the statement with this: “Read the following carefully. Ask the individual in charge for explanations if you do not fully understand any statement below.”
Here are some important elements of the agreement.
1. “I hereby give (employer) the right to make a complete investigation of my references, past employment, education, job-related activities, and other matters related to my suitability for employment.”
2. “I agree that any false answer, false statement, or omission of correct information given by me in this application or any document used to secure employment shall be sufficient cause for (employer) to deny me employment or to discharge me if any employment relationship is established, regardless of the time elapsed before discovery. I hereby certify I have not knowingly withheld any information that might adversely affect my chances for employment and the answers given by me are true and correct without any mental reservation whatsoever. I further certify that I, the undersigned applicant, have personally completed this application.”
3. “I understand that nothing in this application, or in granting of an interview, is intended to create an employment contract between (Employer) and me.”
4. “Print full Name________________”
5. Signature of Applicant and date.
Expiration of the Application
At the bottom of the last page of the application form, include a statement informing the applicant the application is for a limited time. (You don’t want an applicant coming in and complaining that you discriminated against him or her, because last week you filled a job similar to the one he or she applied for a year ago.) Use wording like this for the notice:
“This application will remain active for only 90 days from the date above. If you have not heard from (employer) after 90 days and you still wish to be considered for employment, you will need to fill out and submit a new employment application.”
[NOTE: Information and guidance in this story is intended to provide accurate and helpful information on the subjects covered. It is not intended to provide a legal service for readers’ individual needs. For legal guidance in your specific situations, always consult with an attorney who is familiar with employment law and labor issues.]