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Job Application Overview

This resource was written by Allen Brizee.
Last edited by Allen Brizee on August 7, 2009 .

Summary:
This resource explains what a job application is and why you need to complete them. This resource also discusses what you should do if you have times you were not working or if you have been incarcerated. Lastly, the resource explains what information should be included in a job application.

What is a job application?

A job application is a form employers use to collection information about you to see if you are a good fit for the position. There are usually four parts of a job application:

  1. Personal information
  2. Employment information, also called work history
  3. Education and training
  4. References.


Why do I need to fill out a job application?

Many employers want workers to fill out a job application. Employers use applications to see who can do a job. Employers also use applications to read about your past jobs and training. Your application is important because it shows employers what you have done and what you can do. Your application should contain information that will encourage an employer to give you an interview.

Even if you do not need a job application for a certain job, it is good to make one of your own and keep it up to date. It is easier to fill out job applications if you have one of your own to reference. This is especially true if you are filling out online, or Internet, job applications.

What should I do if I’m a veteran entering civilian life?

It is important to fill out your application in a way that employers will understand. Applying for civilian jobs means you will have to use language people outside the military can understand. For example, in the experience section of your application you will need to do some “translating” between military terms and civilian terms:

Military terms: Received and stored bulk and package petroleum, oils, and lubricants products. Issued and dispensed bulk fuels and water from storage and distribution facilities to using units. Selected and submitted samples of petroleum, oils, and lubricants to laboratory for testing. Performed petroleum and water accounting duties (from Army Pamphlet 611-21).

Civilian terms: Coordinated and distributed petroleum products and monitored quality control systems.

What should I do if I am transitioning from the automotive industry?

It is important to fill out your application in a way that employers will understand. Applying for your new job outside the auto industry means you will have to use language people outside the industry can understand. For example, in the experience section of your application you will need to “translate” your auto industry terms:

Auto industry terms: Finished, prepared, and applied various materials, sub-finishes and final top coat paints to components, parts and complete vehicles in accordance with engineering drawings and manufacturer’s recommendations.

“Translated” terms: Worked in a team to apply paint to parts and complete vehicles following detailed engineering drawings and manufacturer’s recommendations.

If you remember specific details and achievements related to your responsibilities, you should include them:

Supervised and coordinated ten employees in automotive assembly and reviewed manufacturing processes and products for quality control. Maintained a 96% average delivery rate while focusing on lean manufacturing and continuous improvement.

What should I do about any times I was not working?

Short times in between jobs or work experience should not hurt your chances of getting an interview. But you should be prepared to talk about those breaks when you meet with the employer. If you were not working for pay but volunteered doing something in the community, talk about that experience to show you were busy doing something.

What should I do if I have been incarcerated?


If you were incarcerated, be honest with the employer and talk about what you did while you were serving your sentence that may contribute to your job skills. For example, many prison systems offer General Education Development (GED) programs so inmates can receive the equivalent of a high school diploma. Prison systems also offer vocational training in carpentry, plumbing, electronics, auto mechanics, etc. If you have received vocational training in prison, talk about this in your interview.

What will my job application look like?

There are many different kinds of job applications. Each company has their own format they use. This is also the case for online applications. But generally, job applications have words that tell you what information you need to fill in the blank spaces, on lines, or in text boxes for online applications. Below is an example of the top section of a job application:

Name  ___________________

Social Security Number  ________________

Address  ______________________________________________________________

Telephone Number  ____________________

Years at Present Address? ____________



Keep in mind that you will need to bring your Social Security Number, or equivalent such as a work or student visa, with you, along with your driver’s license, birth certificate, and current phone number and address. If you don’t have a phone number where employers can call you, make sure you ask someone to allow you to use their phone number. Write “message” on the application to tell the employer s/he should leave a message for you at that phone number.

If possible, fill out your job application when you pick it up rather than taking it home. If you don’t think you will be able to fill out the application correctly or in a professional looking way, it’s fine to take it with you to fill out later.

Click here to download the PDF file containing sample résumés and employment letters.

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