Shaping Your Resume Content on Application Forms

By Laura DeCarlo

Application forms that you must sign aren’t resumes. Once signed, an application form becomes a legal document. Lies can come back to bite and smite you. Stick to the facts by following these basic rules:

  • Verify all dates of employment and salaries.

  • Enter the full name and last known address of previous companies for which you worked. If these companies are out of business, write “N.A.” in the address section.

  • If asked for salary history, list your base salary (or add commission and bonuses), omitting benefits.

  • Give a complete employment history in months and years, including trivial three-month jobs that you left off the resume. When you don’t tell the whole story, you leave a loophole of withholding information that later can be used against you to deny unemployment benefits if you’re let go.

  • Unless you have a condition directly affecting your ability to do the job for which you’re applying, you need not elaborate on any disability.

    Become a fountain of knowledge about disability rights; start with such specialty websites as the National Organization on Disability and Abilities Inc.

  • Divulge any criminal record (misdemeanor or felony) unless your records are sealed; consult a lawyer about the possibility of expungement before job hunting.

    In certain instances, a job seeker can legally and ethically answer “no” on a question about a past offense; for information, visit Privacy Rights Clearinghouse.

    When you have to divulge such information, always include an application addendum where you explain the situation in the most positive light possible and share how you have changed with employer references, employment tenure, and awards.

  • Be honest about having collected unemployment benefits (but remember that repeaters are frowned on). If you’re caught lying about it later, practice your farewell speech.