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Filling out a job application

Nina Spitzer is a 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.

7Tailor your answers to the job.

Whether it's previous on-the-job experience, volunteer work, or hobbies, make it a point of having the application reflect your expertise and interest in the area for which you are applying. If, for example, you are applying for a position involving customer service, don't neglect to include volunteer or part-time work where you interacted with people.


It's usually advisable to write in "negotiable" or "open" in the space for "desired salary," instead of writing in an amount that may be too high or too low. If they are interested in hiring you, an agreeable salary can be negotiated later.

9List of references

Undoubtedly, you'll be asked to provide a list of personal or professional references on the application. Be prepared with a list of names, addresses and phone numbers of references in each category. They should not be relatives. Select references who you know will be positive about your attributes and accomplishments. Be sure to have their prior permission to be listed on your application.

10Write carefully.

Employers read the written responses to their short answer and essay questions very carefully. What you write really tells a lot about you. It shows your ability to follow directions, professional demeanor, how literate you are, and if your way of thinking is in line with theirs. Be especially careful to slow down and think when filling out this portion of the application.

11What position are you applying for?

Be specific. You may even include more than one position. Writing in "any" is vague and may get you a job offer for a position in which you have no interest.

12Proofread it!

No one ever purposely makes mistakes. We also have a difficult time finding our own mistakes. For this reason, it's important to have someone else proofread your completed job application. Remember, it needs to be absolutely flawless. Entrust the job of proofreading to one or more people you can depend on to catch errors in spelling, punctuation, grammar, and following directions. Don't rely on spell check! Both the rough draft and final copy of the application should be proofread. If you fill out the application at the interview, then it will be up to you to review it carefully for errors. 

13Remember to sign the application?

Believe it or not some people, in the haste of filling out the application, forget to sign it. The signature confirms that you agree to the company's policies for employment. No matter how well you've filled out the application, a lack of your dated signature is sure to red flag the application. An unsigned application may indicate to a prospective employer a tendency to be careless toward important details.

The most important thing to keep in mind is…

When you leave an interview, the job application remains in your folder as a lasting impression of you and what you can do. A quality job application requires hard work and attention to detail, but it all pays off in the end when the phone rings with the call that you got the job!

Resource: Camille Powers, New York City HR Consultant with over 30 years experience

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