Tips for Filling Out Paper Job Application Forms

Filling out paper job application forms may require a shift in what you write, because you have to sign them, making the application form a legal document. Lies can come back to bite you.

Stick to the facts as you follow these rules:

  • If you can, take the application home where you won’t be rushed and can spend adequate time polishing your application to get it just right. Photocopy the application form before you begin in case you find errors on the original (or spill coffee on it) and need a clean copy.

  • Verify all dates of employment and salaries to the letter.

  • Enter the full name and last known address of former employers. If former employers are no longer available, don’t substitute coworkers.

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

  • Give a complete employment history in months and years, including trivial three-week jobs that you wisely left off the resume. If you don’t tell the whole story, you leave a loophole of withholding information that later can be used against you.

  • 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.

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

  • 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.

  • Autograph the application; you’ve been honest — why worry?

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