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Filling out a job application

Nina Spitzer is a SheKnows.com columnist and a freelance writer living in sunny Cave Creek, Arizona.

Job application mistakes to avoid

You may have a fantastic resume and a beautiful cover letter, but still need to know how to fill out a flawless job application if you really want the job.

The job application matters

Woman Filing Out Job Application

Just because you've prepared a perfect resume and cover letter, don't think you can forget about knowing how to fill out a job application. Remember, everything you turn in at the interview is representative of you and what you can do.

A quality job application could make the difference between whether or not you even get to the interview stage. Be sure the completed job application presents you in the best light possible. Don't let a poorly filled out application ruin your chances for the job.

The final copy you submit to the prospective employer must be absolutely perfect. We suggest starting with a rough draft where you can correct mistakes before transferring the information onto the final copy. You won't have this option, however, if you're filling out the application at the interview, so be certain your application is free of errors.

13 things to remember when filling out a job application.

1Read instructions carefully.

Before filling out the application, be sure to read it over thoroughly! Job applications have many similarities, but may also differ in form and content depending on the needs of the particular company. If you don't fill out the application correctly, how can the company trust you will do your job properly?

2Neatness counts!

A wrinkled or folded job application with ink smears and coffee stains will shout of sloppiness in work habits and leave a bad impression of the applicant. Make sure all written work is clean and legible. Type or print the information neatly in black ink. Don't even think of filling in a job application in pencil!

3Submit complete and accurate information.

It's important that all information on the job application is accurate. Dates, names, addresses, previous supervisors, references, phone numbers and any other required information should be complete and correct. You can't be expected to remember all this information, so have a fact sheet with you at the interview to use as a cheat sheet. A perspective employer wants to know you will be a stickler for accuracy and detail.

4Address gaps in employment.

Be proactive and have your application address gaps in your employment history dates before you are asked. Perhaps you were recovering from surgery or being caretaker to an ailing family member. You know it will come up in the interview. Writing it down on the application shows you want to be upfront with everything.

5Don't leave blank spaces.

Blank spaces can lead to the assumption that you forgot to fill in those areas. Forgetfulness is not an attribute on a job application. If a section does not apply to you, simple write in "does not apply," "not applicable" or "n/a."

"Fill in the complete application. Don't rely on the recruiter to obtain your information solely from your resume. There may be information requested on the application, like salary history, that would normally not appear on a resume."
- Camille Powers, New York City HR Consultant

6Be honest and positive.

This is a big one. Being caught in a lie will almost guarantee not being hired. Applications usually ask the reason for leaving previous employment. Even if you were fired from a job, try to find wording that is honest, yet doesn't appear negative. Something as simple as, "work ended" can suffice. Then, be prepared to have an honest, yet positive worded explanation if further details are requested at the interview.    

Next: More tips about filling out your job application.

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