Filling Out a Job Application

Employers use standard application forms to gather basic information about the candidates when filling a position. Applications may ask for much of the information you have included on your resume, but both are usually required in the hiring process.

Personal Data Sheet

In the early stages of the employment process, most employers require a similar set of preliminary information from every applicant. It is important to have this information readily available, accurate, and organized when applying for any job. A good way to ensure that you are prepared is to develop a Personal Data Sheet you can refer to whenever you need to fill out an application.

Photo of a job application being filled out
Photo of a job application being filled out

While employers may ask for a different order or use different words to describe this information, they will almost certainly require data from five main categories:

  • Personal information: Your full name, current address, past addresses, current phone number(s), social security number, date of birth, place of birth, citizenship information, and parents’ or guardians’ names.
  • Educational/School Information: The name and city of the high school(s), trade school, and/or college(s) you attended, the years of your attendance at each, and, if you’ve graduated, the year of your graduation.
  • Work history: For each job/internship/volunteer position, provide name of business, job title, address, phone number, start and end dates, salary at hire (per hour, per month, or per year), salary at end of employment, your supervisor’s name, and your reason for leaving. List your past employment from most to least recent.
  • Special skills/additional certifications: List any particular skills you have that may make you more valuable or qualified. Foreign languages, computer programming languages, facility with computer applications or special equipment, special certifications or training.
  • References: The name, job title, employer, and preferred contact information (street address, email address, or phone number) of several people you’ve worked with or known well who can vouch for your competence on the job. Also include your relationship to each of your references (supervisor, college professor, etc.). Your references should be reputable and be able and willing to express why you would be a good candidate for a job.

Seek Information

You will first want to find out how the employer usually handles—or prefers to handle—applications. Are the applications available online, by mail, or will you need to visit the office to pick one up? Do they accept applications only on certain days of the week or month or during certain hours? Do they prefer that candidates fill out the application at the office? Is it possible (or required) to complete and submit the application online?

When/If You Visit

When going to a potential employer’s office to pick up or drop off an application, have a plan to deal with situations such as:

  • needing assistance traveling to, and orienting within, the location
  • needing assistance filling out a printed application
  • reading any documents you may be required to review or sign

When you visit, your goal is to be as independent as possible and make it evident to the business or employer that you can handle any tasks while you are there. It can be tough to negotiate new locations with confidence; it may take some practice. If you need assistance, advise your helper to allow you to address any issues or questions that arise.

Be prepared to explain why you are using assistance. It’s important to be direct, but polite. If using portable assistive technology will let you accomplish tasks independently, use it. Technology can be an interest grabber and create an opportunity to educate. People are often curious about and impressed by the effective use of technology. Some may feel that your use of technology demonstrates that you are competent and will be able to accomplish job duties.

Practice First

Ideally, you will get a copy of the application form before submitting it and use it to practice filling it out. Everyone makes mistakes when filling out applications due to small print, strange formats, and unfamiliar phrasing used by each business. Make a copy of the application and practice filling it out prior to filling out the version you intend to turn in. When filling in your final application, be calm, take your time, and be prepared. If you are filling out a paper application, you will need to print legibly or have someone print legibly for you.

Keep a Record

Create a record system or journal to list your application submissions. Keep track of whom you contact on what date; when you picked up applications; when you turned in applications; when you followed up with employers; initial contact with employer; method of contact; contact information; whom you interacted with at the employer; and any other important information.

The Job Seeker’s Toolkit

This article is based on the APH Job Seeker’s Toolkit, a free, self-paced, comprehensive, and accessible guide to the employment process.

This article and The Job Seeker’s Toolkit are based on the 2nd edition of The Transition Tote System, by Karen Wolffe and Debbie Johnson (1997, American Printing House for the Blind).