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For awhile, it seemed as though job applications were being pushed to the wayside as companies began using an applicant’s resume and then incorporating all that the internet offers.  This process usually worked for any other information they might have needed from those applying for a position.  That could be shifting again, says A. Harrison Barnes, career coach and founder of Hound.com.  Many employers are once again insisting an applicant fill out a traditional job application that will accompany a resume as the hiring decisions progress through the chain of management.  It’s important to prepare for that possibility.

Barnes recommends today’s job applicants to have a “cheat sheet” at the ready when you arrive for your interview.  You may be asked to fill out an application as you’re waiting in the lobby.  While you may have your resume with you and will be able to pull dates, etc. from that, a typed sheet of paper can have all the details an application might ask for.  This will help you breeze through the process.  “It’s just an additional tool you can keep at the ready”, says the Hound.com founder.  On your sheet, include information such as the number of employees you’ve managed, accounting processes you developed, honors you receive and any other information that’s important, but not on your resume.  Just knowing you have everything you need will be enough to ease your nerves.

Why Can’t I Just Use my Resume?

Actually, you can, but it’s likely an application will require information that’s not routinely found in a resume, such as past salary information, contact information for previous employers and even past promotions you received.  It’s important any information that’s found on both documents match.  The last thing you want to do is make an assumption about a hire date, not realizing you included a different date on the resume, only to have it not match.  Even if it doesn’t cost you the job, you’ll still have to explain it to the interviewer; basically, you’ll have to say (regardless of how much you “pretty it up”), “I made a mistake and didn’t catch it”.  It’s not exactly the impression you’re shooting for.

Another good tip A. Harrison Barnes offers is to ensure the application is neatly written, grammar rules are followed and that the application is completed in its entirety.  Believe it or not, one of the biggest problems human resources departments face is the inability to read the information due to sloppy handwriting.  That’s a sure fire way to not get a job.  If you can’t take a few minutes to extend the courtesy of legible handwriting, an employer’s going to believe you won’t have a few minutes to double check your math before sending the annual reports to hundreds of shareholders.

Bottom line, it may seem irrelevant, but there’s a reason an application is being asked for.  Your job isn’t to figure out why, but rather, to ensure you’ve followed the request to the letter.

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