Because online applications are more and more prevalent and less understood, we’ve already written several posts about online job applications with more in the works. On the other hand we haven’t yet written about paper applications. Several employers in our area still use paper applications. Paper and pen can be a relief over the clicking and typing of a computer, but there are still mistakes to be mindful of as you fill out your next app. Let’s talk about a few traps that we don’t want to walk into –
- Be Prepared – If you’re coming to IowaWORKS or to the employer, make sure to have the information you need to fill out an application. Prepare a pocket resume if you want to. Being prepared saves you time and if you can fill out an application on the spot then you only have to make one trip. Have references ready for the occasional application that requires them. This means have the names of references that you’ve asked to be references for you in advance with their contact information including address and phone number.
- Follow Directions – Just like in Grade school, read the directions before filling anything in. Employers can and occasionally will put a trap into their application just to see if you’re paying attention. Don’t be the person that marks three boxes when the company asked you to only check one.
- Be Neat – This one feels like a no-brainer, but take your time and write neatly when filling out a job application. If the job is worth having, it’s worth slowing down and making sure everything you write is easily readable. Sloppy writing on an application is an indication that the applicant didn’t care about the position. You don’t have to use perfect calligraphy to impress an employer, but make it legible. While you’re taking your time to write neatly, make sure to spell correctly. If you don’t know a word, look it up in a dictionary before putting it on paper (or if doing it near a computer, try spelling it in Microsoft Word first and see what happens!).
- Remember the Job Description – Just like on an online application, an applicant needs to show the employer that they have the skills necessary for the position. Use the job description lines underneath your employment history to explain how you can do the job that they want you to be able to do. You aren’t tied to the exact words they use, but you also want to stress to the employer how good you’ll be at the job they are hiring for.
Paper applications are a relief for a lot of people. No computer means no getting timed out, no typing, no surprise assessments coming up at the end asking you to answer math questions. But paper applications have their own tips and tricks and you need to do your best to impress an employer.