Matt Tarpey, CareerBuilder writer
Filling out job applications can be tedious business and often requires sharing a lot of information about yourself. While it’s obvious why employers ask for basic information such as your age and contact information, some of their requests may seem a little out of left field.
Here are some of the most common pieces of information employers will ask for on job applications – and why.
Be prepared to include information about your personal work history. Since relevant work history is something nearly everyone includes in their resume, it may be tempting to skip this section, but don’t. In some cases, the job application functions as a stand-alone document used by HR even after you’ve been hired. Therefore, neglecting to fill out the application as fully as possible may cost you your shot at the job.
“This information is useful to employers as it helps them quickly evaluate your candidacy,” says Ray Rogers, director of Career & Professional Development at St. Edward’s University in Texas, U.S. “The information you provide assists the recruiter in understanding previous work functions performed, projecting the length of time you may stay with that employer, reviewing career progression and estimating present salary expectations.”
Keep in mind, “experience” isn’t necessarily limited to professional work.
“Job applications should always reveal key elements expressing the applicant’s experience, which includes more than basic work history and education,” says Michael Iacona, founder and CEO of Rake, a mobile job search app. “Relevant volunteer work, applicable certifications and affiliations with reputable organisations in the industry are often overlooked pieces of information that can make an applicant stand out.”
Similarly, it may seem pointless to include your education information on the job application when that information is already covered in your resume. Still, if the employer is specifically asking for it, it’s probably important to be absolutely sure they get that information.
“While it is fairly obvious why this information would be asked, be aware you may be asked to verify the educational credentials listed on an application or resume before you receive a firm offer,” Rogers says. “Employers have found that it is not uncommon for some applicants to provide misleading or false information concerning their education. Always be as honest as possible when providing information about your educational background.”
Expression of Interest
Questions like, “Why do you want to work with us?” might seem like they are more appropriate for the in-person interview than the initial job application, but employers differ in how they screen applicants.
“Once you know that a candidate can do the job, the next big thing to check for is if they are a fit culturally,” says Abhishek Lal, co-founder and CEO of VedSutra, an online media company. “You need to understand if the candidate is emotionally motivated and suited to be a part of your company. A person with a highly academic attitude might not fit well in a company that has a more laid-back environment and vice-versa.”
Many employers will also ask for a list of references to be included in the job application. Typically, this should include former supervisors, co-workers and, in some cases, clients. And, yes, you should ask someone before listing them as a reference.
“You may also be asked if they may contact your previous employers for a work reference,” Rogers says. “How you answer this question can suggest to the employer whether you left a previous position in good standing and whether your current employer is aware you are job searching.”
Gathering these essential pieces of information before you start applying to jobs is a great way to save yourself time and hassle in the long run. How much information a job application requires differs from employer to employer, but as anyone who’s experienced an extended job search will tell you, it never hurts to be prepared.