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Published: Tuesday, 8/29/2006

App Happy

Familiarity with a company s application process turns the average job seeker into a prime prospect

By Bob Lankard

CTW Features

My 37 years as an employment counselor with the Pennsylvania Job Service, I learned many valuable lessons about the process of looking for a job.

Some came from books received at the office, but lessons that stuck with me longest came from my dealings with employers and job seekers.

Employers frequently vented their frustrations about applicants coming to their places of business. They often told me why they would hire one applicant rather than another.

The first lesson and one of the most overlooked concerned the importance of the company application.

Some of my most significant learning moments came when employers would interview candidates in our office. My first recruitment was a real eye-opener.

As a relatively new job-service employee, I was given responsibility for my first recruitment staffing a large new department store.

I was rather proud of the number of applications I had accumulated. I had placed them in a huge pile on the desk that the department store s recruiter would use, hoping the recruiter would be impressed with the quantity and quality of the applications.

I was amazed as I watched the recruiter quickly separate my stack of applications into two piles. He did not review each application thoroughly but quickly tossed each application on one pile or the other. These piles were nearly the same size. Each application was given a mere glance.

When I asked what was going on, the recruiter told me he was separating applications that had been signed from those without a signature.

Those who signed their applications would get an interview; those without the required signatures would not. Those with sloppy applications and those with a lot of blank spaces also would not be interviewed.

I attempted to argue that the recruiter might be overlooking some good candidates with sales experience who just forgot the signature. After all they provided the important stuff , I said. The interviewer explained that they were looking for people who follow directions and are thorough .

In that instance, following directions was more important than how much sales experience the applicant had.

My first recruitment taught me the importance of carefulness in completing a company application.

The job seeker who fails the company application test usually does not get a second chance. It does not matter that these applicants may have superior experience, superior training, a more engaging personality, or better work habits than those who passed the application test. The failed applications are pitched, and the employer moves on to some other application.

Applicants tend to minimize the importance of the application.

Sometime ago, the Job Center was collecting applications for an extremely high paying job. Members of the Job Service staff were reviewing the completed applications with each applicant. I pointed out the sketchiness of one job seeker s work history.

That s OK , he replied, I can explain all that stuff in the interview .

The applicant was voicing a very common but incorrect assumption of job seekers: The application doesn t matter; they have to interview you anyway.

That is wrong. Your application does matter, and the employer does not have to interview you.

The application is the foundation of the job search process. All else such as the interview is built on the application

It doesn t matter was one expression I frequently heard from job seekers. This phrase was usually a response when I pointed out an application with coffee stains, blank items, grammatical errors, or sloppy handwriting.

If they don t want a job, why do they bother to do this? was a frequently heard question. This time it was from the employer. Their frustration was directed at applications completed by my doesn t matter job seekers.

Bob Lankard Bob Lankard, a business columnist for the Indiana Gazette and former program manager at the state Job Center in Indiana, Penn., offers common sense advice and innovative tactics to help all levels of job seekers satisfy their employment ambitions.

Copyright CTW Features



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