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Step-by-Step Guide for Filling Out Job Applications

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Seventy-five percent of job applicants don’t hear from the employers after they have submitted application materials, according to a February 2013 study by CareerBuilder. Any type of contact you make with a potential employer is another chance to stand out from the crowd. Even if you have already submitted your resume, it is vital that you complete a required job application to the best of your ability. Failing to fill out an application completely or correctly could mean the difference between an interview request and dead silence.

Read through the entire application before you begin. Look for any specific instructions, such as "Only use black ink" to avoid mistakes that could cause you to start over with a new application.

Complete the entire contact portion of the application first. Include an alternate phone number if requested even if you carry your cell phone at all times. Provide your home, work or a family member's number. If an employer cannot reach you for an interview, they may move on to the next applicant.

List all of your previous employment information in detail. Avoid leaving spaces blank or writing "See resume." If you don't remember the address or phone number of a previous employer, take the time to look it up or call someone who knows. Enter dates of employment in month and year format, such as "June 2010 - April 2012."

Answer all questions truthfully. For instance, if you have been fired from a job or have a criminal history, own up to it. An employer who finds out about a potentially negative event through a background check and not from you may consider you dishonest. Provide details on the application or write, "Will discuss at interview" to offer your side of the story.

List contact information for references, if requested. Provide current names and addresses of people who can vouch for your character, skills or experience. Make sure you have received permission from these references before offering their personal information to an employer.


Allow yourself enough time to read the application, complete it and check it over for spelling, grammar and neatness after you have finished. Print and complete a sample job application that you can carry with you as a reference.