Employment application requirements

Having the right employment application for your business can help you zero on in the employees who will fit into your company. Here are some tips on streamlining this process.

by Michelle Kaminsky, Esq.
updated February 07, 2023 ·  3min read

Facing the prospect of hiring new employees for your business can feel intimidating and overwhelming, but it doesn't have to be. With some careful preparation and planning, you can create an employment application that covers everything you need to know without exposing your business to liability.

Woman writing on sheet of paper in suit across from other woman

While no one blank employment application can fill the needs of every business, there are some basic guidelines you can follow as you develop the right form of employment application for your enterprise.

Job application essential requirements

Even with so many job candidates applying online, some employers still wish to gather certain information that may not be visible on the resume (or cover letter, if one is submitted).

Using a simple employment application supports a more consistent process that can aid in your candidate review and selection.

In addition to confirming the employment history that a resume provides, your basic employment application can capture other important details, such as the salary range the applicant is seeking, when they are available to start work, and confirmation that they are legally eligible to work in the U.S.

Additions to the basic employment application

Many employers choose to request more in-depth information regarding the candidate's qualifications than a resume and cover letter may provide. This can speed up your interviewing process by helping you select the candidates best suited for the open position, rather than spending too much time talking with individuals who clearly don't match what you're looking for.

You may see this added information referred to as "supporting documentation," which may include any or all of the following:

  • College transcripts
  • References
  • Letters of recommendation
  • Writing or project samples
  • Publications
  • Certifications and/or memberships

As the employer, you should let applicants know which documents you would like to receive as part of your job application packet, as well as your preferred method for receiving them. If your instructions are unclear or unstated, you can expect to field many questions from applicants—and potentially waste a lot of your precious time answering them.

For example, if you want applicants to send only official transcripts directly from their schools, let them know that. You also can feel free to use the applicants' ability to follow instructions (or lack thereof) as part of the screening process, of course.

Getting organized to receive applications

If you use an online employment application, be sure that your business is prepared to receive and organize the influx of applications and all related materials. You don't want to make a bad impression on potential employees by asking them to send and resend documents simply because you have misfiled them.

Accordingly, having a comprehensive organizational system in place well before you even place your job ad is advised. Ideally, one individual can serve as the point person for application materials at the outset, and then you can involve other internal team members as the process continues.

Equal employment opportunity and affirmative action requirements

While a job application may legally ask for personal details such as race, gender, religion, or national origin, as the employer, you have to be careful that you are in full compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws. Note that while the questions themselves are legally acceptable for an employer to ask, employers are not permitted to make employment decisions based on the responses.

Instead, employers may generally use this information to show that they are nondiscriminatory in their hiring practices. Even a standard employment application, if it includes questions such as these, should include an anti-discrimination notice that affirms that the employer does not discriminate in its hiring and explains what the employer does with the information gathered. Whether specific federal anti-discrimination laws apply to a business depends on its number of employees, and some enterprises do have to file reports with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC.

Private employers may choose to implement affirmative action plans to benefit individuals who have been historically marginalized and to boost diversity, but they still must follow federal anti-discrimination laws in their implementation.

If you want to be sure your employment application gathers the information you need to make the best hiring decision—and also is fully compliant with current legal standards—you can consult with an employment law attorney to guide you through the process.

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Michelle Kaminsky, Esq.

About the Author

Michelle Kaminsky, Esq.

Freelance writer and editor Michelle Kaminsky, Esq. has been working with LegalZoom since 2004. She earned a Juris Docto… Read more

This portion of the site is for informational purposes only. The content is not legal advice. The statements and opinions are the expression of the author, not LegalZoom, and have not been evaluated by LegalZoom for accuracy, completeness, or changes in the law.