As noted in a previous post, it is good practice to have candidates you are considering for employment, or at a minimum, those that you interview for a position, complete an employment application form, either online or the old-fashioned way (hard copy, that is). Many employers have moved to online applications to improve the recordkeeping and selection process efficiency. As to the content of the online application, the same principles apply as for hard copy applications.
Why is it important to have an application form completed? What does it provide beyond the resume or profile? Here are some of the reasons to consider consistent use of an application form:
- Completion of the “signature block” by the applicant which provides important protections for the employer as well as providing important notices to the applicant. This includes
- statement of “at-will” employment
- Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) notice (regarding notice to the applicant that background checks may be done)
- attestation of the truthfulness of the information provided (so-called “truth or consequences” clause)
- Additional information regarding employment history (including reason for leaving previous employment), education and skills/licensure beyond that supplied in the resume or profile.
- Listing of references, which is typically not included in a resume or profile.
- Completion of questions such as criminal record and employment eligibility in the U.S.
For a good example of a concise list of what to include and not include in the application form, see the ADP posting “Employment Applications: What to Avoid, What to Include.”
One size does NOT fit all when it comes to the application form. I have found that many small business owners or small non-profits use an application form that they found on the internet or one that a business contact gave to them. In most cases, either (1) the form included questions or asked for information that is not lawful, (2) it failed to capture important information for that employer in their selection process, or (3) was designed for a much different workplace than that employer’s. In other words, the form being used was not updated or customized for that employer’s use.