Job application forms are essential for any business looking to hire new employees. They will contain personal and demographic data as well as work history and qualifications.
We cover the types of information you should request on a job application form, data you should avoid, and why you should use a job application form in the first place. If you are looking for an easy, ready-to-use template, we have a job application form template you can download below to customize for your company’s needs.
What to Include & Avoid on a Job Application Form
A job application form will generally include information in five key areas: personal information, position and availability, education, employment history, and references. However, avoid asking for certain pieces of information within those areas. See a quick overview in our table below.
|Full Legal Name||Marital Status, Salutations|
Title VII, Sexism and Gender Discrimination
Title VII, Financial Status and Race
Social Security Number or Tax Status
Privacy and Data Security
Race, Gender, and Age
Title VII and ADEA
Military Service – Skill Set Acquired
Military Dates or Discharge Reasons
Title VII, HIPAA, and ADEA
Years of Related Experience
Date of Birth
Title VII and ADEA
Degrees Achieved, Specialties or Majors and Educational Institutions
Title VII and ADEA
|Eligibility to Work in the United States|
Citizenship and Visa Status
Title VII and Ethnicity
Work History and Job Skills
|Reasons for Termination From a Prior Job, Arrest Record, References or Prior Salary|
Title VII, HIPAA, Wage Discrimination and Legal Issues Like Libel
*Note: Requesting certain information can put you at risk of violating federal labor laws, anti-discrimination laws like Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, age discrimination laws like the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 (ADEA), or Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) laws, which protect a person’s confidential health-related information.
There is some basic information that you will need from every job applicant. This is not only important for contacting the applicant for follow-up questions, interviews, or job offers but it will also allow you to get a head start on entering their information into your human resource database. You can then use it when starting on state-specific items like tax registration.
Personal information will include:
- Full name
- Phone number
- Email address
A quick reminder: Some job applicant forms include information that could be illegal. This may include information like date of birth, country of origin, and criminal history.
Position & Availability
For tracking purposes, you will want to know what specific job an employee is applying for, which is important for companies that have multiple job postings at the same time. For strategic planning purposes, you also will need to know when an applicant can start working.
Other information related to position and availability may include:
- US work eligibility
- Work availability (days/times), key for flexible or shift-based positions
- Where applicant saw the job posting
Some jobs require a certain amount of education for candidates to be successful. This information is also useful in considering job applicants for other positions and future promotions for applicants who were hired.
Educational information includes:
- Name and address of the school
- Graduation status
- Degree earned
We caution against requesting data about the applicant’s graduation date to avoid potential discrimination claims.
Similar to education, the employment history section gives you more information about what past experiences have prepared the applicant for the open position available. The company and job title information, specifically, gives you insight into how relatable your open position is to the applicant’s previous jobs, and the responsibilities section gives you a chance to see what transferable skills the applicant has exhibited in prior positions.
Employment history-related information includes:
- Company name, address, and phone number
- Supervisor name
- Job title and responsibilities
- Dates of employment
- Reason for leaving, if voluntary (optional)
- Permission to contact previous employer
Questions about salary history are illegal in some way or form in more than half of all US states or territories. Please check our salary history ban guide to determine whether there are any salary history bans in your area.
While not required, references can help you get a better picture of the person from the view of a third party. This person could be a co-worker, manager, professor, classmate, or industry colleague. These individuals can help you determine whether the applicant will fit into your company’s culture and perhaps give you insight into the best environment for the applicant to thrive.
Information on references includes:
- Full name
- Relationship to applicant
- Company name
- Phone number, address, and email address
Why You Should Use a Job Application Form
Gathering a quick overview of your applicant is a solid way to understand their qualifications and track them for a complete interview process. Here are the main reasons job application forms are important:
- Organization: Keeping candidate applications is a great way not to lose contact information or misplace info, which can happen when jobs are discussed in person or over the phone. A job application template gives you this information in written form to be able to access quickly and easily. It also can be digitally saved and stored online or in a file.
- Tracking: By keeping forms for each applicant and analyzing overall numbers, you can better understand the effectiveness of your company’s recruiting. In addition, if you add a question on where the applicant heard about the position, you can determine which marketing strategy to use moving forward.
- Comparison: By having all applicants complete the same form, you are effectively able to fairly compare applicants to each other on their skills and qualifications for the job posting.
A job application can be a very effective tool when advertising open jobs and growing your business successfully. The work history and qualification information will help you make a hiring decision. This is especially true for jobs that require extensive experience or training. The personal information will help you comply with many federal, state, and local regulations for the candidates you intend to hire.
If you want assistance in finding applicants, ZipRecruiter can help; it even enables you to customize the questions you need from applicants in your application.