Many employers have developed the habit of accepting resumes, whether electronic or paper, from applicants rather than requiring them to complete an employment application form. However, there are many good business reasons for consistently requiring an employment application to collect data used to make hiring decisions. Applicants who submit a resume should also be asked to complete an application form.
First, a resume is similar to the Glamour Shots that were all the rage a few years back – an air-brushed picture that presents the most flattering image of the applicant possible. Resumes are written to accentuate the applicant’s best features and to gloss over the less-than attractive information they want to hide from prospective employers.
An employment application allows you to ask for the information that is relevant to your company – educational background, job history, skills, certifications, hours available to work, etc. When used consistently, it becomes much easier to compare applicants’ background information since you have collected the same data from everyone.
However, it is also important not to ask for information that is considered illegal and/or discriminatory such as date of birth, citizenship status, “maiden” name or whether the applicant has children. The legality of other questions during the application process, such as criminal history background and salary history, is still under consideration.
Second, an employment application can be used to hold an employee accountable. For example, if an applicant states on the application that he or she will be available to work from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday on a regular basis, and now as an employee demonstrates poor attendance and frequent tardiness, you can use the application statement to hold the employee accountable for conditions of employment that were agreed upon during the hiring process.
Third, the employment application allows the prospective employer to request job history information including why the applicant left previous companies. While many past employers are hesitant to answer work-related questions, most will respond when asked to confirm the applicant’s own statement about why he or she left that job.
Finally, the employment application should include an Acknowledgement and Certification statement that the applicant must sign affirming that all information provided on the application is true and that falsification or misrepresentation of any information may be grounds for immediate termination of employment. Recent articles from CNBC.com and WorkItDaily.com report that 75-85% of resumes contain misrepresentations or outright lies about work history and educational background.
An HR professional can help you with all of your human resources needs, from developing a legally -compliant application form, hiring the right employees, running background checks, creating employee handbooks that include anti-harassment policies and procedures, managing employee performance, staying legally compliant, automating employee records, and anything else you need to create an environment where employees can provide the services that you need to run your business.