Overcoming common errors of completing job applications

Read the 12 hints for filling out job applications.

According to Michigan State University Extension, in today’s economy, preparing yourself for the job hunt is challenging at best. As a member of the Career Exploration and Workforce Preparation work group, I would like to provide you with hints to overcome some of the most common errors people make when applying for a job.

  1. Prepare yourself. Think through and make notes regarding any work history, explanations or reference information that you may need. Then when the opportunity arises, you will have the information you need with you.
  2. Follow all directions and format requirements. Job applications can be screened based on simply following instructions.
  3. If you are required to complete an application, complete the application. Do not substitute your resume for a required application form. A resume is an important tool in the job hunt process, but it cannot be the replacement for what an employer asks for on an application
  4. Hardcopy application forms must be completed legibly and without errors. If you make an error, do not leave scratch outs or white-outs on a job application. It will be well worth your time to start over with a new application.
  5. Whether completing an online or paper copy of an application, take time to proof read and spell check. Potential employers will cut applicants based on errors in the application.
  6. When a job application requires a signature – make sure you sign it. This might sound silly, but it is a common mistake in the quest for submitting job applications.
  7. Despite trends in our economy, if you have a work history that resembles job hopping, make sure that you explain why.
  8. Employers also watch for gaps in employment on an application. If you have gaps in employment of more than 90 days in length, you should provide an explanation.
  9. Provide complete contact information for your references. This is another common mistake made on job applications.
  10. Complete all requested information. If you need to leave something blank, perhaps use N/A for “not applicable.” If you are completing a two-sided form, make sure everything is filled in on both sides.  
  11. When hard copies are used and you need to mail the application, make sure that you remember to put all of the application material in to the envelop.  
  12. And lastly, make sure that mailed application materials have the proper postage. There is nothing worse than a potential employer needing to pay your postage due bill!

The new national 4-H curriculum Build Your Future: choices…connections…careers; provides tools and resources to enhance young people’s ability to complete job applications.  In addition, 4-H volunteers can help youth develop these skills.

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