Purpose of an Application Form for a Job

by Ashlyn Etree

    Job applications provide hiring employers with preliminary information to determine whether an applicant qualifies for an interview and to aid in the hiring process. In 2011, only 40 percent of job applications satisfied the most basic requirements for the position, according to a report by The Corporate Executive Board Company. Job applications also offer job seekers an avenue to express interest in a position and relay pertinent information about their qualifications to employers.

    The primary purpose of an application form is to prescreen job applicants. Contact information, employment history, educational background and references are standard pieces of information communicated from applicant to employer on job application forms. Additional information requested may include a list of job-related skills such as foreign languages spoken or computer software certifications; the applicant's salary requirement; and whether the applicant is available part time or full time and hours of availability. With this basic information, an employer can determine if the applicant warrants further consideration.

    Employers utilize background information about the applicant, gleaned from the application, to facilitate productive interviews. As reported in Entrepreneur's "Startup Hiring: The Basics of Pre-Screening Job Candidates," job applications present employers with an unvarnished version of the applicant's employment history and experience; resumes are easily exaggerated. Furthermore, employers use application forms to effortlessly identify potential issues such as job hopping, criminal history, being ineligible to work in the country or being fired.

    An employment application form, unlike a resume, is a legal document that applicants sign to verify the information provided is true and correct. Application forms typically contain a paragraph explaining that omissions or false information reported on the application form may result in application rejection or employment termination. Additionally, application forms may also include statements granting permission to hiring employers to conduct background or credit checks, contact references and prior employers, and examine education records.

    Beginning with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, legislation exists to protect personal information and individual privacy. According to the National Federation of Independent Business, using a job application form that is more than a few years old is ill-advised. Questions asked five years ago may no longer be legally acceptable. To prevent discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 or older), disability or genetic information, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission provides guidance to employers regarding what information can be requested, based on federal law.

    About the Author

    Ashlyn Etree has more than a decade of experience in public relations. She now serves as a writer for various publications, specializing in business, marketing and travel articles. Etree earned a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Central Florida.

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