Many small businesses rely on simple one-size-fits-all job application forms provided by various 3rd parties. Whereas these forms may be convenient and easy-to-use, they are probably not effective in finding the best candidates, and (in some cases) they may run contrary to certain employment laws.

It is important for you (as employers) to understand what type of information should be requested on a job application form, and (more importantly) what information should not be requested. The application should not ask for information that is not relevant to a particular job or ask a question that in any way cross over from professional to personal.

Asking candidates anything that can identify them as a protected class opens you and your business up to potential discrimination lawsuits. So think whether or not you truly need to know – for the job duties – a candidate’s marital status or religion or whether or not she is pregnant.

All applications should include:

  • an equal opportunity statement
  • language that will help  dismiss an argument that the application itself creates an employment contract. This includes:
    • a statement that the application itself is not “to be construed as an offer or promise of employment”
    • a statement that highlights the fact that employment is “at will”.
    • an area for a signature to certify that the information given (by the candidate) is accurate.  It should also advise that if an offer is made based on false information, then the offer will be subject to revocation.
    • an area for a signature granting the hiring manager permission to speak to references. It is important to follow FCRA guidelines and applicable state laws when dealing with references and background checks. For more information, please check out our blog post:  Background Checks and Employers’ Responsibilities.

Dependent upon the industry and job duties, an application should include:

  • a section for the candidate to identify his work history (including pay rates, supervisors’ names, etc.) and any other information that is relevant to the particular job – certifications, skills, education
  • a statement that informs a candidate that any offer of employment will be contingent upon the successful completion of a drug test or physical exam (if applicable).

The bottom line is that any information that an employer gathers from candidates (through an application) should be geared towards eliciting specific information that will help in finding the best fit candidate for the job.

So, if you look at your current job application form and see that information not related to the functions are present (or that you are missing relevant information) then your application is in need of revision.

This is where Snelling can help. This is our business – matching our candidates’ skills and assets with our client companies’ needs and wants. We have over 60 years of experience in this business. The workforce and the hiring process within the US is ever-changing and our recruiters and placement professionals are extremely well versed in the many federal, state and local laws placed around the application process.

If you find that your application process is a hindrance to your business and takes up too much of your time, give us a call, or visit us at  to find your local Snelling office. We look forward to hearing from you!

NOTE:  A full-color, downloadable PDF is available.