What’s the most important piece of paper in your job search? If you said it’s your resume or your cover letter, you’d be wrong. It’s your job application.
Over 90% of companies run some type of background check on job applicants today. To get the detailed information that is required to run a thorough check, most companies require applicants to fill out a specially-designed application form.
Over 80% of companies say that discrepancies on a job application can take a candidate out of the running, yet half of the background checks run in 2005 found inaccuracies in the information provided by applicants.
As you can see, how you fill out that job application is directly tied to whether or not you get hired.
There are four golden rules to follow when filling out a job application. Some of them are obvious and all of them are important. If you follow these rules, you will start the pre-employment screening process far ahead of your competitors.
Tell the Truth:
As amazing as it sounds, over half of all applicants lie on their applications. Don’t be one of them. Nothing will take you out of consideration faster than fabricating information. Because so many companies check backgrounds today, the chances are very good that lies will be discovered and you will not get the job.
Since companies use the information on your job application to check your background, make sure people can read it. If you can type your application, do it. If not, print clearly. Your mother might be able to read your handwriting, but she is not the one who will be checking your background.
It is always better to give too much information, rather than too little. You never know what a company will want to verify. Here are some general rules:
1. If there is space on the application, list every diploma and degree you have received. Some companies will only verify your highest degree, while others will want to verify everything.
2. Fill in as many employment boxes as you can. Work study, internships, and volunteer jobs all provided you with experience. List them if you have room.
3. Always provide up-to-date phone numbers and addresses for your previous employers.
Most companies will not tell you what information they plan to check. Some will only run a criminal check, while others will verify every piece of information on your job application. You need to be prepared for anything they choose to do.
You also need to be prepared for anything a hiring company might hear about you. Even though previous employers may be liable for saying bad things about you, it happens every day. If there is bad news out there, it is far better for you to tell the hiring company than to have them find it out on their own.
Before you send out that first resume, or respond to that first newspaper ad, take the time to prepare the detailed information that needs to go on your job application.
Remember, while a great-looking resume will get you in the door and solid interviewing skills will help you make the final cut, if you don’t pass the background check, you won’t get the job.