Hiedi from Springfield, MO asks: When we hand in a resume to a company, why do we need to also fill out an application? Don't they have exactly the same information? After all, a resume seems to be just a more detailed application.
Great question, Hiedi! Hundreds of companies make you submit form-style applications along with your online resume, or ask you to fill one out on paper before the interview. How annoying!
But there are a few good (and not so good) reasons why employers do this. Here's what I can think of:
- Background checks. The application asks for information that you don't normally include on a resume, such as Social Security Number, driver's license number, military experience, etc, which is all important for conducting background checks.
- Comparison purposes. When companies interview dozens of candidates, they might find it hard to keep track of who's who based solely on resumes. Job applications can help them tell you apart and compare certain parts of your experience against others.
- Resume types. The most standard resume format is chronological, which is straightforward and leaves little to the imagination. But functional or hybrid resumes can conceal or skew employment dates, making the employer work extra hard to figure out what you were doing in May 2002 if it doesn't appear on your resume. Most job applications ease that stress by requesting employment history in order of dates.
- Salary tricks. Standard applications ask for starting and final wage/salary from your previous jobs, and some ask for the minimum salary you'll be willing to take for your next job. When it comes to salary negotiations, whoever specifies a number first is at a disadvantage. So an employer can get the upper hand by making you reveal your income history on the application.
- It's a test. If you really want the job, you'll go the extra mile to fill out the application. It could be seen as a way to weed out applicants who aren't completely serious about getting the job. It also reveals how well you can follow instructions and express yourself.
Whatever the motivation is behind this extra and seemingly unnecessary step, you have to fill out the application if you really want the job.
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