General Guidelines for Creating Job Application Forms (With Template)

Illustration of job app form on a computer. Text reads:

Hiring can be tedious and time-consuming if you’re not implementing the best strategies, such as creating a job application form.
Fortunately, an employment application form allows you to easily hire several qualified people in a short period of time. In this article, we’ll discuss how you can get the most out of job application forms by following these general guidelines.


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What is a job application form?

A job application form or employment application form provides a handy way to gather important information from job seekers interested in your open job(s). Having all of these details in one place, including the applicant’s personal information, work experience, education and references, can make it easier for you to review stacks of applications and find quality candidates.

Download a sample job application form here.  


When to create a job application form

While not all jobs are suited for a job application form, they can be a great tool to help you hire for a wide range of positions. The first factor to consider is whether you’re hiring for an entry-level job or a job that requires more experience.

You may not receive many applications for a job that requires more experience or advanced skills, which can make it easier to manage those candidates. However, job openings for entry-level positions are often flooded with applicants, and a simple application for employment can help you keep track of everyone applying.


Using an employment application form can also cut down on how long the hiring process takes for both you and the applicants. Applicants just have to fill out the form, and you’ll have easy access to the important information you need to decide who moves on to the next step in the hiring process.

Another benefit of job application forms is that they’re in template form so you always know where to find important information. Looking at a resume or CV, on the other hand, can require a bit of searching to find the details you’re looking for. Additionally, using a general job application puts all your prospective candidates on an equal playing field.


How to structure an effective job application form

Job applications should be convenient for candidates to complete. Consider making yours versatile enough to be completed in person, at home, on a computer or on a mobile device. Your job application form should also be printable and in an appealing and easy-to-read format. 


Having the application accessible online is something job seekers have come to expect for entry-level positions, so if you deal only in paper applications offered at your place of business, your competition is likely going to have a distinct advantage.


To ensure your employment application form asks for all of the necessary information from applicants, there are a few specific fields you should include:

  • Name of applicant
  • Contact information, including phone and email
  • Education history
  • Work experience
  • Professional references (optional)
  • Availability (e.g., weekends, night shift)
  • Applicant signature and date

Leave enough space for each section so applicants have room to elaborate on their past experience and qualifications.


Promoting your application for employment

If you want prospective hires to make use of your job application form, you’ll have to draw them in. The title of the form should be the same as the title of the job. To make it appealing, it should be clickable and rank high in search results. Job application forms need to be descriptive, but avoid including buzzwords. For example, you’d be better off using “Social Media Marketer and Content Creator” than you would be using “Facebook Rockstar.”


In addition to the title, provide a description of the job. For the most part, these job descriptions follow the same guidelines as the titles. Include enough details to offer a clear idea of exactly what the job entails, making sure you cover responsibilities, requirements and rewards to draw the right kind of job seeker to the position.


We’ve compiled job description samples for over 600 jobs to help you attract the most qualified candidates. 


What to do with job application forms

After you’ve received multiple job applications, it’s time to sort through them to decide who will move on to the second round in your hiring process.


Even when you’re looking to hire a lot of people in a short period of time, there will be some applicants that won’t make the cut. While particularly poor applications are easy to cast aside, don’t be so quick to throw out runner-up applications. While these candidates may not have made the cut this time, you might be hiring again in the future. By holding on to those job application forms, you’ll already have a talent pool to draw from when it comes time to hire again, and you won’t have to put applicants through another round of vetting.


For candidates whose job applications seem like a match for your open role(s), consider verifying what they wrote in their job application form by conducting interviews and/or reference checks.


Job application form template

To get a better understanding of the guidelines for job application forms, it helps to take a look at an employment application template. Templates for job applications can provide valuable insight into what fields typically need to be included on any application. However, it’s important to remember that some jobs will require additional fields unique to the industry, such as driver’s license information for a truck driver role.


Download a sample job application form here. 


Types of job application forms

In today’s online world, many employers have implemented online and email job application forms in addition to paper for a more streamlined application and job hiring process. Here’s some more information on the most common types of employment application forms. 


Paper job application forms

Paper job applications used to serve as the most common method for people to apply for jobs, but they’re slowly being phased out by many employers thanks to online technology. However, there are some businesses that continue to provide paper applications, such as grocery stores and restaurants, and forms are also handed out at job fairs. If you run a storefront business or a restaurant or bar, it’s always a good idea to keep paper job application forms on hand in the event that potential applicants stop in to inquire about employment. 


Online employment application forms

Online job application forms are utilized by a wide range of businesses. Online forms help employers streamline the application process, and they generally contain the same information as paper forms. An online job application form can usually be filled and submitted through an online portal. You can also provide an online application in which an applicant downloads and prints the form, fills it out and then returns a scanned version via email.


When an application is 100% online, potential candidates provide information such as name, address and previous employers by typing into different fields. Additionally, most online job applications contain a signature field where applicants can sign electronically. 


Email job application forms

An email application form is a type of job application in which applicants answer questions and provide personal data such as employment history and identifying information through an email thread. Once an applicant is offered a job, they may also receive forms such as W9s and NDAs via email to be printed and filled out, then scanned and emailed back. If you’re hiring for a remote position, email applications are a good option. 


Tips for optimizing employment application forms

If your current job application forms aren’t bringing the results you’ve hoped to achieve, they may need a bit of a refresh. Consider optimizing your employment application forms in the following ways: 

  • Highlight job requirements: Make sure your application forms ask specific questions relating to the positions you’re hiring for and include all job requirements. 
  • Use proper formatting: Excessive text and not providing enough space on your forms to answer questions (whether online or paper) can be frustrating for potential applicants. Utilizing proper formatting can help increase your applicant pool. 
  • Optimize your application forms for mobile devices: Many potential applicants utilize their mobile phones when filling out applications, so it’s important to optimize for mobile. You can do this by minimizing drop-down menus on your application forms and providing multiple-choice questions whenever possible. 

Frequently asked questions about employment application forms


Should employers use applications or resumes?

While a good resume is fairly comprehensive, a job application tends to be more concise and pinpoints the specific traits you’re looking for as an employer. Typically, it’s best to use both resumes and job applications when hiring for low-level positions or when you’re expecting a high volume of applicants. Use applications for the most important information about candidates, and examine their resumes to further narrow down your search.


Should job applications be customized?

Every job application should be customized for the specific position you’re looking to fill, with questions directly related to that position. However, most applications will still feature general questions about experience and education.


What types of questions are on a job application?

The questions on a job application form help you pull the most important and relevant information about applicants. Common questions to include on a job application form include:

  • What position are you applying for?
  • When are you available to start?
  • What is your prior work experience?
  • What is your educational experience?
  • Who are your professional references?

Can employers use online job applications?

Yes. Employers can and do use online job applications. In fact, this type of application is rapidly becoming one of the most popular and effective methods of recruitment. Using an online job application is easier than ever, and you can post your job application and hire directly on Indeed.


Why should I use a job application form?

Job application forms allow employers to obtain more specific information about potential employees as opposed to resume-only submissions. Spaces for information such as social security numbers, home addresses, previous employers and references can all be easily implemented into a job application form template.


Creating a job application form allows for a more streamlined process for employers and HR representatives when choosing applicants. Additionally, potential candidates are required to sign and date completed applications to ensure all information is correct and true.

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