Be Prepared to Fill Out

Job applications are a way for employers to get personal information about potential employees. In some cases, they may also be used to screen applicants. So instead of approaching a job application as a standard, unimportant form, view it as another step in the interview process. Fill out the form as completely, accurately, and honestly as possible.

Most job applications ask the same type of information so coming prepared with help speed the process along. Bring the current addresses and phone numbers of your past employers along with the name of your immediate supervisor. If you don′t remember the dates of your employment, look through old pay stubs or call the human resources department of the company and have them look it up for you.

The majority of people know their educational information without looking it up. A certain percentage of people may be tempted to embellish their academic record. Don't. It's relatively easy for employers to check on academic credentials and misrepresentation will most likely get you automatically rejected for employment. Plus, while many companies look for candidates with degrees, job experience can be just as important and persuasive so instead of making up false education, concentrate on your real-world know-how.

When a job application asks for references, they don′t mean a family member or best friend. They mean former bosses, co-workers, or associates who can discuss your professional qualities and possibly ethical character. So consider carefully the people you want to list as references. It may be a good idea to contact them in advance to see if they are comfortable with being listed as a reference. If they are, bring their current contact information, their company name and the position they currently hold.

The importance of accuracy and honesty on any written form cannot be overly emphasized. With so much competition in the workplace, companies have their choice of applicants, many equally qualified. So many times the difference between getting hired and being passed over can come down to a matter of character so do not exaggerate or fabricate anything you write down. Companies really do fact check applications and references. Plus, the Internet and social media has made looking up information on any individual as easy as logging onto a computer.

Inattention to detail could also derail your job aspirations, so make sure to answer every question thoughtfully and thoroughly. If a particular question does not apply to you, write in “n/a” to show that you haven't accidentally skipped or intentionally avoided the question.

Lastly, be mindful of your penmanship. If the application is difficult to read it could end up in the reject pile. Neatness counts so avoid cursive and print the answers. It may take a little longer to fill out but a little extra time spent now could pay off with a new position later.