In addition to requesting a resume, you should require job candidates to fill out an application, according to Michael Pires of ADP’s Small Business Services Division. “Applications can help you learn things about your candidates that aren’t usually included resumes—such as why they left a previous job—which can be key in your hiring decision,” says Pires. And, let’s face it, people have been known to include a few inaccuracies in their resumes (like 53 percent of the time, according to the society for Human Resource Management).
What to AVOID in your application form
Your hiring process must be free from discrimination under all applicable federal, state, and local employment laws. Therefore, you generally can’t ask questions that would reveal characteristics that are protected under the law, such as race, color, age, national origin, religion, sex, disability, etc.
Criminal Conviction Inquiries:
Several states and local jurisdictions expressly prohibit employers from asking about criminal convictions on employment applications and may require employers to wait until after a conditional offer of employment has been made.
Asking for Social Security Number:
While federal law does not prohibit employers from asking for a Social Security Number on employment applications, it is not considered a best practice because of the threat of identity theft and other privacy concerns.
What to INCLUDE in your application form
Under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), before conducting a background check on an applicant or employee using a third party, employers must, among other things, inform the individual that the employer may use the information to make employment decisions.
Include a space for applicants to list their availability, such as full-time, part-time, and coverage for certain shifts, to make sure the applicant’s availability is in line with your staffing needs.
Job History, Education and Professional Designations and References:
Include each item in a separate portion of the application.
A statement the job candidate signs attesting the information is true and complete.
At-Will Statement (if applicable):
It is also a best practice to include an “at-will” statement above the signature line indicating that generally either the employer or the employee can terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without notice, and for any lawful reason.
Employment applications can help you with the hiring process. But be sure your employment application complies with all relevant federal, state and local laws.