Job applications are a bit different from using a resume or letter to locate a job. Job applications are used many times with larger employers or employers who don’t have an opening. In general, a job application is somewhat of an agreement between you and the employer. There is usually a place for you to sign and it is used if/when you get to the point with the employer where they are considering you for an opportunity. What you put down must be true and accurate otherwise they can consider terminating you if hired. Another reason an application is used is to “get the facts” about your current and past working situations. Some employers don’t want to read through sales-type language on a resume. They prefer to get to the meat of your background for their openings.
There are a few areas where people have some challenge with applications. Here are some suggestions to help you answer common questions duing the application process:
1. How do I answer the question about income? The income question comes up a lot in applications. There is normally a box you need to fill in about your current or past incomes. If the application is online the field can be mandatory so you have to put something in there. Let’s deal with that situation first. If you are required to include an income then do it. You may get screened in or out because of it but that is the process. Don’t ever lie about it because it can be fairly easily verified. You are who you are and paid what you are paid. If an employer wants you bad enough, what you put there won’t matter at the negotiation stage of your candidacy. If you put $30,ooo but you know they might pay $45,000 your job is to get to the end where they want you and you want them. Then you can ask for the higher salary and see what happens.
If the application is on paper, then you can skip the question and let them know you would like to discuss this in an interview. You can include it and accept where the chips fall as stated above. Don’t be so worried about this field. There is no “way around it”. From the very start whether they ask for it or not it will impact if they are interested in hiring you. Someone will ask you about it and you need to be prepared to answer why.
Many times there is an income box which asks what income are you looking for. This one can be tricky because you don’t want to go too high or too low. If you think the company is a good one to get into and you are in need of a steady paycheck, then put a slightly lower figure than what you could get. If you have a job and just looking around for the right opportunity, aim a little higher. Different employers can and will pay different amounts for the same job. Don’t put all your eggs in just this basket. There are more opportunities out there. Don’t get caught up on this one opportunity, explore the market for others.
2. What if I am leaving a job where I hate my boss, what do I state as my reason for leaving? This is anther very touchy subject for people as well. The complete truth in this blank will cause some red flags to rise about your candidacy in the company. If you have/had a bad boss and your day in the life was why you are leaving, you can phrase that a little different so not to blame the boss. You could say that there was no room for advancement in your division or you knew the turnover in the department was high but you thought you could make a difference. You realized once you started in the position the working environment was more challenging than you had originally known. Your job responsibilities had changed and you recognized you were not a good fit for the position. Statements like these will help encourage a hiring manager to “drill down” a little to uncover what is going on. But what it does is not put the blame on why you are leaving on your last boss but on some things you ignored about the department you were going to work in. This goes a long way to being honest which is what most hiring managers want. If they don’t then run as fast as you can.
3. Should I include references who I have not asked permission from yet? References at the application stage are a bit premature for virtually any company. References take a long time to contact and speak with and very few recruiters have time for this in the beginning. I don’t know of any employers who check references during the early stage of the process. You may put people down here who can vouch for you. I think it is always best to make sure they know they are a reference but if you know them well and are pretty sure they won’t mind, you can add them. If you get towards the end of the hiring process and are going to receive an offer, most hiring managers will ask for references at that point or at least verify the ones you listed are good to contact.
Applications can be tricky. Lean towards a more honest approach on dates, salaries, job titles and the details. Honesty is always the best policy and will help you stay grounded during your job search. No need to tell your inner secrets but shying away from some blemishes can signal you are trying to hide things. Experienced application readers, resume readers and hiring managers will look for inconsistencies and are trained to do so.
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