why do I have to submit an application when I’m already providing my resume?

A reader writes:

Many jobs require an online application in addition to a resume. I’m struggling to understand the difference, if there is any, in the type of information being solicited, especially in the Experience section. For example, online applications often ask for the duties associated with each former position. Do they actually want a list of the duties performed–essentially, the job description–or, as with a resume, is this a place to include accomplishments?

Should I just copy and paste from my resume, or are hiring managers looking for different information in the application portion? I don’t want to be redundant and miss the opportunity to provide additional information regarding my qualifications. On the other hand, I don’t want to waste time developing unique content that won’t be reviewed as such. What do you suggest?

It’s fine to copy and paste from your resume, and to have the bullet points you use on the application be the same as the ones from your resume.

The reason some employers ask for a separate application is to ensure that they receive all of the information they want (whereas on your resume, it’s up to you what you include), because they often want it in certain formats, and because they often include requirements that you sign off about the accuracy of the information.

But yeah, it’s often a waste of candidates’ time, particularly for professional positions where a resume should suffice. And I’d note that many, many employers hire without using formal application forms, and they survive just fine.

Relatedly: Years back, I was hired for a job without submitting a formal application, because the CEO already knew me and my work. On my second day there, the HR manager brought me a multi-page job application and told me I had to fill it out, complete with references who would never be called, “because we need this in everyone’s file.” It was a ridiculous display of commitment to bureaucracy without thought given to the purpose (which was later backed up by what I got to know about her work style) … which I mention in order  to point out that while there’s a time and a place for asking for official application forms to be filled out, employers that use them sometimes need to do a better job of thinking through how they interact with the rest of the hiring process.

{ 179 comments… read them below }

  1. Juli G.*

    We have government contracts so having all candidates complete applications is the most consistent way for us to show compliance to hiring standards and candidate pools.

    I would never ask someone to include references or things like that though after they’re hired.

    1. Matteus*

      I have found, in government service and in the contractors that work with the government, circular justification is very common.
      “We fill this form out because the process requires we fill this form out. The process exists because we needed a way to get everybody to fill this form out because of the process. “

      1. Matteus*

        And, I might add, once you start hiring people to deal with “the process”, streamlining or eliminating those processes becomes very very hard.

    2. LAI*

      I don’t work for federal government but I do work for a large public university and we use a similar online form. When I have reviewed resumes, I’ve always gone straight to the resume and 90% of the time never look at the actual application form. However, I have had to look at the form a few times because something in the applicant’s resume was unclear. Usually, this was an applicant using a functional resume format rather than chronological, so one solution would be for everyone to just stop using functional formats…

      1. Juli G.*

        Exactly. The stuff you need for government purposes in the application is usually of no use to a hiring manager. When I’m hiring, I don’t care where you live, what gender you are or what ethnicity. However, the government wants proof that I didn’t care about all of this and having you fill out a 5 minute formis the easiest way to start the baseline of that process.

        1. Elle*

          This happened to me in my current position. I filled out an application online, with my resume, interviewed, and was very quickly hired. Shortly thereafter, I was informed I -had- to fill out a paper application “for my file.”

          I got busy with training and eventually my job, so the Department of Redundancy Department form never got filled out. I got hounded for -THREE MONTHS- to fill it out, and eventually did to shut them up.

          The real kicker is I was part of the last group of hires for the company who had to do this, and I was hounded because this is something that is audited in HR…and of course they just can’t have any boxes unchecked in audits. Absolutely nuts.

          1. Rachel*

            I’ve had this too. I left rather than fill out the form, and made sure that it was known idiotic bureaucracy was the reason they didn’t have someone to do their project any more. That particular HR drone no longer works there. Neither do lots of her victims.

    3. Rachel*

      This is why I don’t work for the government any more. Paperwork for the sake of it, for no other reason than to make HR drones feel important.

  2. Jessica*

    One time on a job application, the “past experience” section was listed as optional (while many other sections were marked as mandatory), so I skipped it because all of the information they were requesting was on my resume (which, oddly, was also listed as optional).

    This was a mistake. They e-mailed me and said they wanted to consider me as a candidate, but couldn’t because my application was “incomplete.” So I had to go back in and copy/paste all the information on my resume into the job experience section of the application.

    I was brought in for an interview, and one of the questions they asked was essentially, “You didn’t complete the entire application the first time. Are you usually so careless?”

    Lesson learned — I will always fill out the ENTIRE application now, even if it seems redundant/optional/unnecessary.

    1. Crow T. Robot*

      “No, I’m efficient. I realized that section of the application was optional and that all the information could be found on my resume, so I made a decision to leave it blank.”

      What an annoying thing for an employer to do. If they want that information, they should make it required.

      1. Persephone Mulberry*

        Especially since they had clearly looked at your resume since they found you qualified enough to interview. Facepalm.

      2. JCC*

        >What an annoying thing for an employer to do. If they want that information, they should make it required.

        It sounds like requiring optional information is their “37 pieces of flair” — a sign of what to expect from them in the future, I’d imagine.

    2. Bryan*

      I’m guessing you didn’t answer, “No, I just don’t like wasting my time on useless redundant work.”

    3. Britt*

      “Are you usually so careless?”

      What a douchy thing to say to someone in an interview. That would be indicator #1 that this job was not for me.

      1. RobM*

        Indeed. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, an interview is a _two way_ process. That employer would fail in their interview to see if they’re qualified to hire me as a candidate.

        Not because I’m some kind of special snowflake, I hasten to add, but because interviews are supposed to be a time where both sides are putting their best foot forward, and if rudeness like that is the employer at their best…

        1. Tinker*

          Well, that and it seems to speak directly to how they might be expected to behave in future — is that sort of power play how they think employers ought to relate to employees? Because if so, that’s sure not a good sign.

          I do feel a bit self-conscious about not wanting to be a special snowflake and all, particularly as I’ve been so fortunate in recent years as far as working environment goes. But a bad environment can seriously break you — and for most people, “you” is the asset with which you earn your money, so breaking that is a real bad deal.

      2. Jessica*

        To be clear, that was a paraphrase of what they said (I don’t remember the exact phrasing, it was probably something like, “Is this an indication of your typical work ethic?”), but that was basically what they were asking.

    4. Jennifer*

      I’m surprised they interviewed you if they consider you to be “usually so careless.” (OUCH.) Did you get the job?

      1. Jessica*

        No, but I did make it to the final round of interviews (me and one other person) and they went with the other person. I wasn’t moving to the state for a few more weeks and they decided they wanted someone who could start immediately (or at least that’s what they told me).

    5. Olivia*

      This was exactly what I was looking for: fill it all out any way. Thank you!

      My mentor said that it’s generally for people that don’t have a prepared resume. I wonder why she thought that, she’s a manager now but she is in her 60s.

  3. LBK*

    Ugh, I had to fill out an application and a reference request after I had already signed my offer letter because “we have to have this on file for everyone”. What? Why? There’s no laws requiring any of that paperwork, and I can’t possibly see how it could relate to CYA for EEOC stuff for someone who was already hired. It’s pretty clear you didn’t discriminate against me during hiring…because here I am, working for you.

  4. JM*

    I always had this question:
    I work for a consulting company and hence I have an employer and client(s). So if you look at the recent past in my case, say 7 years into the recent past, I have 3 clients while my employer is the same.

    Now when I fill out an online application it pulls out data from my resume and puts it under the work experience section of the application form and gets completed messed up. It adds my client name as my employer for each one (and if I had two different roles with the same client say role A from 2006 to 2012 and role B from 2012 to now, the same client is listed twice as employers for the given time periods).

    1. Persephone Mulberry*

      This is why I rarely bother to let the application pull from my resume if I’m given the option – it’s more work to fix all the stuff that got put in the wrong place or formatted weirdly than to just type or cut/paste.

  5. Ash (the other one!)*

    I hate online applications. Hate them. In my going on 8 month job search I don’t know how many I’ve had to fill out and they are just beyond stupid. To add to the nonsense of having to redo the entire resume, I’ll add:

    1) Having to state a salary preference with no option not to
    2) Having no ability to submit different cover letters for different positions at the same organization
    3) Having to include every past salary (really, why? why do you need to know this?)
    4) Having to provide phone, email, and mailing address for references.

    Why? Just why? I so prefer when I can just send an email.

    1. B*

      I agree with all of this!

      The best online applications just want your resume and cover letter. And they do not pull info from the resume that you then need to recheck and redo. It is just so frustrating. I’m right there with you.

      1. manybellsdown*

        I JUST filled out one that was like:
        Page 1: paste your resume into the box
        Page 2: upload a resume (me: uh … okay, sure)
        Next 4 pages: Type in all the information that’s on your resume into these little boxes! (me: Whyyyyyyyyyy…)

    2. Kelly O*

      This is hands-down the most discouraging part of looking for a job – feeling like you can never make it past the automation.

      There is a local company that I would love to work for. Their online system is so rigid, it’s hard to get in and get through to be seen. I’ve been applying since we moved here in 2009 and have yet to get a single call. I keep hoping that when the right thing comes along I will get in the pool and get a call, but it’s frustrating.

      1. College Career Counselor*

        Relatedly, this is part of why people are sending chocolate to hiring managers. They’re _so desperate_ to get some notice/acknowledgement that they’ll do something as eccentric as that.

        1. EvaR*

          This is an old post, but someone should just make a program that allows you to fill out an app once and then it will autocomplete Taleo and related popular big company form applications for you.

          It only bothers me when they have me up load a resume, and then either don’t autocomplete the application data from the resume or do it in a completely wrong way that I have to spend more time rechecking. I’m fine with entering my employment history. I can even see why a resume might still be useful. But it’s just too much. It should not take candidates more than 15 minutes to fill out an application to work for you. Average time copying and pasting for these things is like 30-45, and I’m a relatively fast typist. I would totally pay Taleo like $30 a year or something for them to just keep my information on file so an application only consists of those little checkbox questions relating to the position.

          1. Rachel*

            If only there were some commonly-used, widely-Linked website, that most job seekers are already in. We could call it Linked-erm, inclusive?, into? Doesn’t matter, we can decide on a name later. Then these appalling ATS could be programmed to automatically parse information from that site in a consistent format so they can get on with the business of automagically rejecting qualified candidates more efficiently. But, alas, I can’t see us having that kind of technology until at least the next millennium.

            1. MamaM*

              Or they could just use the sites all us job seekers use that already have applications they can use. Like Monster and CareerBuilder who have built in apps. We’re already on those sites looking for job’s why not use that sites app so we only have to fill out one.

      1. stellanor*

        I’m not that old, but I graduated from high school 10+ years ago! I don’t remember what my GPA was!

        When I applied to graduate school a lot of applications asked for my SAT scores. Not only did I not remember what they were, but how the SAT was scored had changed twice since I took it, so I have no idea how they interpreted my scores.

    3. Eden*

      Boy, do I agree. And I’ll add:
      1) No range possible, either
      2) Giant university with 10,000 employees: really? I can’t apply to more than 3 open positions at a time?
      3) Who remembers their salary from 1989? I don’t.
      3a) Why on earth do I need to list every job since HIGH SCHOOL?
      4) 3 references strikes me as enough. Why do you want 5?

    4. pgh_adventurer*

      When I was applying the college, most schools just used a standard General Application which you filled out once (once!!) and added the names of schools to send it to. Then if any school wanted supplemental info, you could just do that part separately. I so, so wish some company would build a system to do the same thing for job applications.

      1. TL*

        Texas Common Application!

        For all the public universities in Texas (and all the med schools), this is the system they use. And it works pretty well, I think. It certainly makes it easier for kids to examine a wide range of options.

    5. Jennifer*

      I don’t even remember all of my past salaries.

      It basically just feels like a longer resume/”permanent record.”

  6. Annie O*

    I really wish more companies would put serious thought into their online application requirements. There’s been a few times that I’ve decided to not apply just because the online application was utterly ridiculous. And I’ve had one horrendous experience that soured me on the entire company. Call me petty, but it was so bad that I’ve stopped buying their products and have shared the story far and wide.

    1. B*

      I’m going to agree with both of these as well.

      I really wanted a particular job but after seeing the application process I stopped mid-way. If that’s what they do to try and get applications I could only imagine trying to work for them.

      And I do not think you are being petty. When I have had bad interviews, that were really bad or absolutely pointless, I have shared those stories. And I have stopped buying the products, reading, etc. Companies do not realize how far they can hurt themselves simply by an application or interview process.

    2. Stephanie*

      Not, nope petty! Even unemployed, I’ve stopped dealing with applications that are too complicated, too buggy, too whatever unless it’s something I really, really want and/or am really qualified for.

      I’m sure there are exceptions, but it signifies there are some bigger issues with the company (IT issues, vendor selection issues, PR, etc).

    3. manybellsdown*

      Honestly, there comes a point for me after I’m 6 pages into the online application where I think “All this for part-time at $12/hr?” Not worth it!

      1. MamaM*

        What get’s me is when i spend an hour or more to fill out an app for a minimum wage job. You want to pay me as little as legally possible but you need me to sell you my first born first??? No thank you.

  7. saf*

    I used to work for a university that required an an application from every staff position applicant, and made those of us who were hired before this requirement was imposed submit one.

    They did this in order to get you to sign the declaration about everything on the form being true so that they could fire you if they found out you lied. They were especially interested in arrests and convictions.

    Yes, they could have fired you even without that, but they have lawsuit paranoia. And they couldn’t think of any other way to get people to disclose arrests and convictions.

    I’m glad I’m not there any more. This was the same place that theoretically had flexible schedules, but there was no policy in place. It was all done on a case-by-case basis, and only moms got flexible schedules.

        1. H. Vane*

          My husband’s coworker did that as a result of a fictional relationship with one of her married coworkers. And then she had a fictional miscarriage at around the same time she should have started showing. And then she was nonfictionally fired.

      1. MamaM*

        Yea because they can’t fire you for lying… oh wait isn’t that what the op was talking about? The school getting in writing that everything they said was true so they had proof if they needed to fire someone?

    1. AnotherAlison*

      made those of us who were hired before this requirement was imposed submit one

      We didn’t have this, exacly, but my Big Corporation started using a talent management software & they want everyone to “complete their profile” with a complete job history, languages spoke, professional goals (this is outside of our perf mgmt system that also requires your goals), etc. I’ve abstained so far.

  8. Meghan*

    Your story reminds me of my current workplace – our HR manager actually has EVERYONE fill out applications (just to have in their files, complete with references that will never be called) after they’ve already been hired. Her argument is that she doesn’t want to waste time with the paperwork if they’re not going to end up working here.

      1. Jamie*

        This happened to me as well, an application after I was already hired because it was policy.

        It was explained to me that it was done because there is a clause at the bottom where you’re verifying that everything stated is true and you understand you can be terminated for supplying false information…yada, yada. The labor attorney wanted one on file for everyone.

        I just filed out the top part with my name and info and for everything else just wrote “see resume” and signed it. That was fine.

        Because it asked for the address of my high school. How the hell do I know? Is that something most people retain, because I didn’t.

        Anyway – I didn’t care once it was explained to me why they wanted it – and once I was told I didn’t need to go look up the address of my high school.

        1. Colette*

          My high school doesn’t exist anymore – it has been replaced by condos – so I don’t know if I could even answer that if I wanted to.

        2. Jen*

          My high school doesn’t even *exist* anymore.

          And I have no idea if the new one has my old records.

        3. AnotherAlison*

          For some reason, I do remember the address of my high school.

          I can’t remember the address of where I lived from 1998-2001, but I have the high school covered.

        4. TL*

          I’m pretty sure the address of my high school is 1 Seahawk Dr – because our mascot was the Seahawks and we were literally the only building on that street.
          And they got the name of the street changed my senior year of high school. God bless small towns.

          1. sophiabrooks*

            My (small town) High School was 1 Bulldog Boulevard, and the Elementary School was 1 Puppy Lane. Guess what our mascot was?

          2. NG*

            I just filled out an application and was surprised that they changed the street name to seahawk drive! How random. RU in RB

      2. A Jane*

        I was going to say — I hope you put the CEO as one of your references if you filled it out.

  9. Jubilance*

    Online application systems really grind my gears, especially any iteration of Taleo. They seem to exist solely to aggravate jobseekers. I’ve been known to x out of an application if it gets to be too long/cumbersome/intrusive – companies don’t need to know my SAT/GRE scores, or every job I’ve ever had since I started working. I also really hate the systems that require you have an “end date” for your current job with no option for “currently employed”, and the ones that require you put in a number for salary.

    1. Jean*

      Ah, yes. In my more cynical moments I imagine that application interfaces provide ongoing market security for antacid tablets.

    2. Kat A.*

      There’s a discussion called “The Curse of Taleo?” on Indeed.

      One poster said:
      “This time, Taleo’s field refused to accept my answer for the number of years I supervised someone in two jobs. I had to fudge it. When I got the error message that I had to change those fields, Taleo decided to change the zip codes of all my employers. “

      1. Felicia*

        I got a degree and diploma simultaneously, which is common with joint programs in my area, but Taleo seems to think that’s impossible so I have to slightly alter graduation dates. Another online app had a mandatory field for SAT score, but this was for a job in Ontario Canada , where the vast majority of people wouldn’t have taken the SATs and that field was mandatory. I put N/A put it was stupid to have as a mandatory field.

    3. hayling*

      Ha I thought I was the only person who actually knew the most horrible ATS systems by name. Taleo is the WORST!

      1. Stephanie*

        Taleo’ pretty much persona non grata in these parts. (Yes, I’ve personified it.)

  10. Anons*

    I worked in HR for a major corporation for several years while it was buying and upgrading its online application system.

    It happens basically for the same reason everything else in huge companies happens: as a CYA measure. They need to have a searchable database to prove (to themselves, potentially to auditors, and, once becoming a government contractor, to the feds — and, in the worst case scenario, to a court) that they are engaging in fair hiring processes, seeking and accepting applications, etc.

    Most people who got hired called or e-mailed someone in the company directly to get put on the list for an interview, after dropping in their online application. Because personal networks > all.

      1. Joey*

        I am all ears. I haven’t seen a useful database that can handle thousands of applicants, keep track of which jobs they’ve applied to, at least do some basic screening, and pull it all accurately from resumes without the need to hire a small army of people to do it all. Any takers?

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          You can have a database that does all that minus the screening (and I don’t want it to do any screening anyway; I want that done by humans).

          1. Joey*

            Wanna know how many applications I recieved for the positions that directly report to me. I hired 5 people and got over 1200 submissions. About 500 of those had no business applying, another 400 barely met my minimum qualifications which left me with about 300 of the best qualified resumes to review. Now if you asked me did I miss anyone in the pile of 900 I’d say probably so. But if you asked me if it was worth it to delay hiring somebody so I could look at another 900 resumes and cover letters that would probably result in maybe 1 more candidate that made it to the phone screen Id probably say no.

      2. Evilduck*

        I’d love to read an article on how to do this! I was just hired as employee #3 for a brand new company looking to grow over the next few years and right now I am HR (among other roles) with zero training. I want to do things right from the beginning and make sure our employees (and applicants) are treated with respect.

      3. HM in Atlanta*

        At last employer, a lot of this crap was imposed by the government as a compliance requirement after an audit. They didn’t like that we didn’t force people to jump through hoops. We implemented the bare minimum because we actually wanted people to want to work there.

      4. Anons*

        True, but as with Joey below, it’s a matter of volume. That organization is about 4500 employees worldwide, plus a zillion temps and individual contractors — and the staffing/recruiting branch of HR, last I saw, was down to 4 people and one manager.

        Clearly they felt that a third-party database was a better use of resources than bringing that division of HR back up to optimum staffing would be. :-/

    1. Anonymous*

      Speaking of searchable databases and EEOC demographics mentioned earlier, I am dying to see some research comparing ethnic/citizenship breakdowns between applicants and hirees by job type for various industries. Actually for companies too but I’m pretty sure nobody will allow themselves to be spotlighted like that. Because for years now I’ve heard from IT hiring managers that no qualified US citizens apply to their jobs while at the same time I’ve heard legions of US citizens complain that they can’t get interviewed for IT jobs. I’ve also noticed a strong trend empirically: in my last few companies, just looking at the people around me so obviously not a scientific study but…. I have noticed this kind of thing: 98% of IT is east Indian, 98% of janitorial workers are latino, 98% of accounting and sales are white.

      (I’ve been afraid to bring this up for fear of being called a racist. I have no problem with diversity, I really love being around people different from myself. But if you look at my empirical observations above you can see for yourself that what my companies have had is the complete opposite of diversity!)

      Anyway, tying these together, I want to know which group is lying: employers who claim they can’t get white IT applicants, or white software developers who claim they can’t get interviewed.

      1. Colette*

        Empirical does not mean numbers you made up – you know that, right?

        I haven’t heard any employers claim they can’t get white IT applicants, nor have I heard any Caucasian software developers claim they can’t get interviewed based on their race.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        Employers aren’t claiming they can’t get white IT applicants (!!). What they sometimes claim is that they can’t get U.S. citizens to fill their jobs, which is what they then use to bring in people on H1B visas. Very different issue than white vs. not white.

  11. Anons*

    (Also, I forgot to say — the big software suites, like Taleo and iCims, come in *all kinds* of configurations. Smart companies make theirs less onerous. Dumb companies make things like 12th grade GPA and current salary obligatory fields.)

    1. Stephanie*

      I was very surprised to find a Taleo application that took less than 45 minutes. I didn’t know it was possible.

  12. Ellen Fremedon*

    I applied for a job a few weeks ago where the options for one of the demographic self-disclosure questions were: Disabled veteran, Vietnam-era veteran, Other veteran, Prefer not to state. “Not a veteran” was not an option, and the question was mandatory.

    1. Lucky*

      I applied to a job through Taleo where there was a “not a veteran” option but then required you to state your branch of the military. I chose Army because I look good in green.

      1. Stephanie*

        Oooh, I like to swim, so I would have had a hard time deciding between Coast Guard or Navy.

    2. Alter_ego*

      In high school I was applying for a job that required one of those stupid personality tests where you had to fill in a bubble along a spectrum from strongly agree to strongly disagree. One question said “it is better to come to work high, rather than drunk”. And neither was not a choice. You either had to agree that coming to work high was better than coming to work drunk, or disagree, implying that it was better to come to work drunk, rather than coming to work high.

      And of course, they don’t even tell you high on what. Frankly, I think you’re probably better coming to work high from pot than drunk, but you’re probably better off working drunk than high off meth or heroin.

      I did not pass the personality assessment. I’m still desperate to know what the “right” answer was.

  13. KimmieSue*

    25+ year recruiting veteran here – let me begin with “I hate them too!” While I don’t agree with most of these arguments, I might be able to provide some of the excuses why they are required:
    1) A resume doesn’t provide official permission for an employer to do a background check or reference check.
    2) A resume doesn’t ensure that a candidate/employee had the opportunity to read the terms of potential employment. Especially at-will statements and or fair credit reporting rights (which actually governs background investigation rights).
    3) A resume doesn’t confirm that the candidate is saying “to the best of my knowledge the information provided is true and accurate”. This allows companies to fire when they find out that an employee lied about their previous employer and/or degree.
    I agree, my HR brethren commonly take the “risk avoidance” side way over common business sense. This results in decades of dumb, arduous, bureaucratic BS.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      So I sense that you know this, but just for anyone reading who might not:
      1. You don’t need official permission to conduct a reference check. For the pieces of a background check that do require it, you can easily get sign-off before you begin (which is much later in the process).
      2. You don’t generally need proof that applicants have read the terms of potential employment. You can make that part of your offer process. If you need it for a particular piece of a background investigation, you can handle it at that point (see above).
      3. Companies can fire you perfectly legally if they discover you lied about your work history or education. They don’t need a special sign-off where you assert its accuracy.

      I totally, totally agree with your last paragraph!

      1. HR Person*

        Agree! I hate the stupid “systems” and recently configured one for my company making it as easy and user friendly as possible (Name, address, phone, only ONE previous job required to be listed (additional optional), NO SALARY requirements required, etc., etc.).

        1. “…can easily get sign-off before you begin.” True. However, asking for approval through an online system keeps me from needing to create an on-line approval or, likely, sign a paper document (which goes back to logistics of obtaining and archiving a piece of paper).
        2. Agree. Though the background investigation piece does bring up item #1 again.
        3. Agree. No special sign off required. However, when releasing any employee for any reason, it is best to have as much documentation as possible. Unfortunately, defending the company’s actions has become the number one reason why many of these practices are in place. If an applicant or employee raises ANY concern that something was amiss with the termination process, the company wants to show that everything was done in a proper and appropriate fashion. Right or wrong, that’s what it comes down to.

        1. Jessa*

          You can say upload resume, and instead of having them repeat that, just have the things you need them to agree to and have “I certify that the resume I uploaded, etc.” instead of the stuff filled in on an online form. You can still get the required things done without having to have them regurgitate the resume. You can still have spaces for things like “have you been convicted of a crime” if you have a job that requires that question (some finance jobs require it.) But what the system does not need is to make them give the same stuff that is on the resume.

    2. Jessa*

      Why not make up a form with all those clauses, and have them sign it if the lawyers/HR are demanding of it. I mean seriously. If you need me to sign something legal then give me that. You can even attach the resume to the form.

    3. Ben*

      I know this is over a year old, but there a few further points because these excuses are nonsensical to me:
      1. You should not be doing background or reference checks on people you have not moved forward in the hiring process.
      2. I am not sure that it is the employer’s responsibility at this point in the process to ensure that someone has read terms of potential employment. If there is a requirement for signoff, ask the person at the interview.
      3. If I lie on my application and don’t get the job, the company is not going to do anything about it. If you require this signoff, do it at the interview or when you ask the candidate to attend an interview.

  14. Mints*

    I will say that Jobvite doesn’t usually annoy me. It’s normally an upload for my resume, a plain text box for cover letter, and contact info. There’s occasionally boxes for “describe your last position” but not nearly as irritating as Taleo. I think it makes it a little more efficient for large companies. And I tend to get more rejection emails from Jobvite companies (which I mean positively, that they can more easily send out mass “thanks but no thanks”). Taleo has definitely lost me when I click and see 10 pages of forms. Although when I was unemployed, I was more likely to fill it all out, which only reinforces Alison’s argument

    1. Stephanie*

      Only thing that can be annoying with Jobvite is when companies include “Tell us something interesting about yourself in 250 characters or less!” Is this Twitter’s influence on job searching?

      1. Mints*

        Ha! I totally forgot about that! It’s been a while since I was asked. I never know how weird or sincere or professional to answer. Like, do they want to hear me gush about the company, or a safe but off topic thing like the mystery novel I’m reading, or actually kind of weird hobby like cosplay? It’s so hard to answer

  15. Kelly O*

    I will make my pitch here that I wish there were a universal place you could store your application data, and simply log in to that to send it to the different application systems.

    It could be secure – I mean, I do my banking online too – and “talk” to each different software program to send the data over. Employers could contract directly with the database, so a potential candidate would only have to allow their careers site to link to their stored data.

    So basically I’m picturing a world in which you have “Apply with Kelly’s Awesome Career Website” button, and it allows you to log in. All the data can be fed back, so the applicant would know if their information had been viewed. Then the company just clicks a “no, thank you” if they don’t want to move forward, or use that site to contact the applicant to set up interviews.

    In a perfect world, it would give you options for interview times and allow you to pick. The feedback would be as simple as clicking a radio button or check box (which takes away the whole “oh my god I’ve not heard anything in three months” worry) and be user-friendly on both sides.

    Then you could just update your “application” as you went on – just like you would your resume – so if/when you’re ready to move on, you just link back in. Employers couldn’t see your whole history, just what you share with them, so they wouldn’t know if you’ve applied to other companies through the same site.

    So… anyone a programmer and want to get on this for me?

    1. Chinook*

      Kelly O – there is a website that allows contractors to up load all their insurance paperwork and whatever else they are required to go on site called ISNetworld (I don’t work for them but with it) and I could see doing something similair for job seekers. For an annual fee that allows me as a job seeker to get reminders when qualifications are expiring as well as store it all in one place, I would be happy to have all the info sit in there. Then, if I see a company I want to apply for, I could then let them see me and then I can tell if that looked at me. I could also see what their requirements are and whether or not I meet them. Heck, if they wanted me to do a typing test or prove I read and understood a document, I could do it there too. After all, that is how it works with our contractors and everyone mostly likes it – if we want to use someone new, we ask if they are in the system. If they are, we make sure they can see our requriements and we can immediately see if they meet them and, if not, why. Our one complaint is that, because it is US based, it doesn’t seem to understand that provincial automobile insurance programs are acceptable and stable even if they aren’t recognized by an international ranking company. I mean, if having a government back your insurance plan doesn’t make it trustworthy, what can?

      1. Trena*


        You forgot to mention the outrageous extortion fee that ISNetworld demands and how companies are “graded” by this horrible conglomerate of under-informed telemarketers who have no clue about your industry. How if you do not click the right box while answering the 10,000 (and increasing) questions, you will not be given a good “grade” and if you get an “F” for Safety….even if your company has not had any type of accident in 6 years… NONE WHAT SO EVER but there it is…that blazing F for your customer to see….right on the main page….ISNETWORLD is a scam and a good one!!! I personally have put in over 800 hours uploading docs and answering questions and re-answering the same questions only worded differently in the last 2 years! They demand THOUSANDS of DOLLARS from you to sign up and threaten that if you don’t join (PAY) you will never get work from your customer again….sound familiar? They make you give them info that they easily could get from the internet but they don’t do so because they think you have 800 hours to waste on their scam!! I get the basic idea of what is needed in the Safety and Compliance department but ISNETWORLD is the most ridiculously obvious example of fraud and extortion I have ever seen!

    2. Kay*

      Wow. That would be super amazing. You could make bazillions of dollars with something like this if you could get employers to play nice with it. I would totally use something like that.

    3. Joey*

      You mean one master database that all people looking for work would use. Who would manage and pay for it? Don’t tell me you expect applicants or employers to pay a fee?

      1. Kelly O*

        Never said I had all the answers.

        Just that it would be nice.

        I would also like someone to pay for a bachelor’s degree for me, and I think it would be nice if every workplace was results-oriented rather than “time in your seat” oriented.

    4. James M*

      I had a similar thought. The major concerns I see with such a system are:
      • Security. People probably won’t like the idea that someone can mine the job app data of everyone using the system.
      • Compatibility. Employers would really want full integration with their own ATSs.
      • Control. Access to specific data (like how much of the ‘application’ an employer can see) must be both intuitive and flexible.

      Not show-stoppers, but they require some cleverness to solve. Definitely not something a code monkey can churn out in a weekend. Actually, the designer(s) would need deep domain knowledge (hiring in multiple fields) just to ask the right questions.

      I would definitely consider applying to a startup with a flagship like this.

    5. Chuchundra*

      A central repository is probably not practical for all sorts of reasons (cost/security/etc), but what might be workable is a standard resume file format that you could create once and upload as is to any compatible application site. Then it would suck all the relevant information into the HR database, easy peasy lemon squeezy.

      If you used an XML format with consistent naming you could include as much data as you liked and the recruiter could just select the field they’re interested in.

  16. Kate*

    Just to provide a counterpoint to everyone griping about how annoying applications are (I get it – I found them super irritating when I was job hunting, too), as someone who has been on the hiring end a lot in the past two years — application forms have been truly invaluable.

    I don’t know if it’s the demographics we’re hiring from (new grads, usually) but I would say 70% of the time an applicant’s resume just doesn’t cut it. Necessary information is often absent, obscured, or buried deep in wordy platitudes. An application form means I can get exactly what I need from them, and allows me to evaluate their writing skills at the same time (resumes and cover letters are usually edited and reviewed, and often in crazy stilted language so I know I’m not getting a true sense of the applicant’s skill). A form forces them to type something out in their own words and pay attention to detail. Super helpful when I have to narrow it down from hundreds of candidates. I’ve selected multiple candidates based on their application responses when just their resume wouldn’t have gotten them very far.

    And yes – when fields are skipped or when I say “Make sure your last name is in the file name” and it’s not – applicants lose points, because there are plenty of people who exactly what was requested.

    I’m not in HR, if that makes a difference – just management-level at a non-profit.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      Hmmmm. I’ve hired loads of people in that demographic and haven’t run into this. I wonder if there’s some other factor here. My first thought is that you should probably be rejecting those candidates whose resumes are so bad (and that you’re asking most people to do a lot of extra and annoying work to help those outliers move through your process).

    2. Apple22Over7*

      I have no objection to application forms. I agree that they’re a great tool when hiring – if nothing else, not having to scan a load of CVs for relevant information and just being able to point to page two of the form is great.

      What do I have an objection to companies requiring me to submit an application form AND a CV. I object to ill-thought out online application forms which have a 200 character limit for listing achievements in a job, or require salary history for every job you list. It’s these which are tedious for jobseekers and actively turn good people away from even applying for jobs with a company.

  17. Apple22Over7*

    Urgh. I’ve just helped my brother with an online application for a retail job. Under the work experience, he put in his couple of jobs along with the description as you would. Reviewing the application before submitting – the description/duties section was all in one long line across the page, despite having put carriage returns in the box. Oh, and even then it cut off halfway through. And no way to edit the entry, you had to delete the entry and put in all the information for that job in again. Nightmare.

  18. In progress*

    I can handle anything that basically fills in information from my resume.

    Having to retype information from my resume? As well as provide extra information so I am constantly flipping between the application page, my resume, and the contact information for my last jobs? No thank you.

    If I have to go through all that and then fill out a personality survey, and/or essay questions, I usually just give up. Looking for work can be a full time job but it doesn’t have to be. Please do not make me spend 2 hours on your application. I notice it’s large companies that do this. I guess because they basically can? Or they’re so large they’ve become paralyzed by bureaucracy.

  19. Josie*

    I love government application forms where they ask for a paragraph (sometimes they specify that it be no more than 10,000 characters or something like that) explaining how you meet each individual qualification. I’m applying for near-entry-level jobs so usually the major qualification is “degree in X.” If I didn’t really want the job, I would love to actually use all 10,000 characters to explain how I meet the qualifications of having a degree in X.

  20. DC*

    I work for a great company and I was hired without completing a formal application. My first day on the job, I was asked to fill out an application, which surprised me, but I did, of course. I think I left parts of it blank (i.e., experience since that was all on my resume) and had someone come back and ask me to fill all that in. I still get a chuckle over it, but it turns out this really is a great company and a great boss. I know part of it is wanting me to sign the disclaimer at the bottom that everything I put down was true and correct as well as signing the included at-will acknowledgment…and all that is on the bottom of the application.

  21. Area51*

    IMHO, it’s 2014, and the job application form should only contain the following six fields and a Submit button:
    – First Name
    – Last Name
    – Email
    – Phone Number
    – Resume Upload
    – Cover Letter

    I’m *just* submitting a resume and cover letter to be considered for the job–that’s all. Anything more–references, background check, etc.–is too much, and premature for this stage of the process. I don’t want that information sitting around in hundreds (thousands?) of databases, and employers only need that information before extending an offer, anyway.

    And those applications where you submit the above six fields of information and it opens a second page where you have to enter everything manually again?
    That’s poor user interface/user experience design.
    And the more hoops they make you jump through, the less likely you are to get the job!

    1. Joey*

      Except that means a hiring manager may have to open up and read 2,3 or sometimes 400 attachments for every vacancy. Might as well not even have an application

      1. Ask a Manager* Post author

        I do that routinely for every vacancy and always have. You’re not doing all 400 at once; you’re doing them in batches over a period of time. It’s actually totally fine.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          (I’ll add that I know that’s not generally feasible for massive companies with hundreds of vacancies at any one time. But I maintain you could still do something fairly simple.)

          1. hamster*

            I was hired at a huge corp that has many positions available and a fancy recruiting app. After i have been offered the position i had to fill that stupid app. I guess the hr needed it after my interviews exactly because of beaurocratic system. And they already reference checked me at that point too.

  22. Stephanie*

    A big pet peeve of mine is when the ATS can’t find your company and demands you input something from its database. According to these things, I’ve had several jobs at “Other” or “Not in List.”

    I’ve also noticed really cumbersome applications seem to be common at places that hire a lot of blue-collar workers. I applied to a white-collar, salaried role at one of the big train companies and had to fill out a long application that include reasons for leaving every job, 10 years of employment and salary history (including any gaps and the reasons for the gaps), my high school information, and agreement to a pre-employment drug screen.

  23. Brett*

    Most of the most egregious problems stem from combining the application process with the background check process.

    I think the best way to handle this is to make the job application and the background application separate documents, both immediately available. The background application has to be completed some time before the last round of interviews (so that way you can exclude applicants who refuse to complete the background).

    Unfortunately, I know that in practice you end up interviewing more applicants who will not do that background than applicants who will do the background when you separate the two processes. Not sure how you deal with that problem as well.

    And there is also the “academy” processes. Typically for academies, you apply to the academy and do your background application at the same time. Academy admission is nearly automatic, and the background check is done while the cadets are in academy. The interview process then starts after academy is done, with people who have completed academy and background. Anyone who fails background _must_ be tossed from the academy immediately, so background really cannot wait until the end of academy and the start of interviews.

    But that is only certain types of jobs (even though they are very large in number). Still not needed for civilian jobs that do not go through an academy.

    1. KimmieSue*

      Brad you are right on the money! The ironic thing is that every single employer I’ve worked for (as a recruiter and recruiting manager) has used an outside vendor to conduct the background check. They all have their own separate forms that also must be completed and signed by each applicant they check.

  24. RedSonja*

    I just went through a massive summer internship search, and boy was THAT an experience in online application submission.

    One place wanted CV, cover letter, personal statement, and THEN you fill out the application. Which wanted to know your last 10 jobs, including salary and supervisors. Oddly enough, I didn’t remember what I made at Wendy’s in high school, nor my manager’s phone number.

    Another place used an outside application site, which wouldn’t let me complete a previously started application, nor would it let me start a new one because I already had one in the system. Tech support took a month to get back to me, and the contact email for the hiring organization bounced.

    And don’t even get me started on the personality tests….

  25. Simonthegrey*

    I have applied for additional/other positions at the community college at which I already work. Let that sink in: I have worked here for almost five years, and I currently hold three cobbled positions (adjunct, part time tutor, part time writing specialist). In order to apply for a different position, I have to fill out the whole online application which is identical to my resume, I need to attach my resume and cover letter, I need to do a personality profile, and NONE of this information saves. I can understand that for the resume and cover letter, but for the application? And I can’t save my unofficial transcripts? It isn’t like those are going to change at this date. It is a huge pain in the butt, especially since I would like something full time and so I apply often enough.

  26. AF*

    I’ve worked part time at a major university for 4 years, and applied just by submitting my resume. The university just made a rule that all existing employees have to been in their application system. So my coworkers and I (some have been there for much longer than me) have to “apply” for jobs they’ve had for years! Ridiculous.

  27. Stephanie*

    I have to add an opposing opinion here… I have worked in HR as the initial reviewer of resumes/applications from both a company that asks for just resumes and a company that requires a complete, online application. With the volume that I review, the online application allows me to find what I am looking for without hunting. The specific layout puts the information where I need it to be. It helps me as I screen applicants because it asks questions about things that are not included on the resume. By leaving pieces blank and referring to the resume, the applicant actually creates more work for me, and now I have to hunt for what I am looking to learn. This wastes my time, and I expect an applicant to want to put their best foot forward by following our process. Having also filled out applications after spending hours perfecting my resume, I also understand the frustration of the other side, but if you are marketing yourself, you should really pay attention to your audience; if they want it done a certain way, there is a reason. If a job hunter can’t take a little time to fill out our application, how serious is their interest in working at our company?

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      If a job hunter can’t take a little time to fill out our application, how serious is their interest in working at our company?

      Your company’s application system might be streamlined and efficient, for all I know, but many are not. And regarding those, this question is important too: If an employer doesn’t mind wasting the time of top candidates, how serious is their interest in attracting and retaining high performers? Too often, employers ask the question you posed but don’t follow it up with this one.

      1. Joey*

        I’m not sure I understand this argument. How is a top candidates time wasted if filling out the app allows me to more quickly find them in a sea of candidates? Instead of finding time to go through every single résumé and cover letter for every single position I’m hiring for I can click on a few criteria and zero in on the people who are the closest match to my ideal candidate.

        I get your argument, but as long as companies don’t have problems attracting top candidates it’s not really a problem.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          If it’s truly a streamlined and efficient system that isn’t plagued by the sorts of problems people here describe over and over again (required questions where none of the answers apply to you, ridiculous questions about where you went to high school or what you earned 10 years ago, or applications systems that require a salary history before you can proceed, or systems that take an hour to fill out, or are riddled with technical glitches), sure. But if any of the above applies, you’re creating hoops for candidates to jump through, which your best candidates will have no incentive to do.

    2. Apple22Over7*

      “If a job hunter can’t take a little time to fill out our application, how serious is their interest in working at our company?”

      Another thing to consider – many jobseekers aren’t just applying for one job. Whilst I know that companies like to pretend that they are the only company a jobseeker is applying to, it usually isn’t the case, even with rockstars who have lots of options.

      Therefore, that “little” chunk of time (usually 1hr+) it takes to fill out Stephanie Corps online application is added to the chunk of time it takes to fill out the James Inc application and the time it takes to fill out the Phillippa Non-Profit application.. it gets very tedious, very long-winded, very repetitive, very quickly.

      Compare that to the much smaller chunk of time (20mins) it takes to craft a cover letter and send a resume to Chocolate Teapots Co. and from the jobseeker’s POV it’s much easier, quicker and smoother.

    3. Mimi*

      I agree. With high volume recruiting, applications can save a lot of time when reviewing candidates.

      Of course, that isn’t to say that some applications can’t be streamlined; some applications ask for way too much information (I have a Master’s; who cares where I went to high school?) But generally, I’m a fan.

  28. Rachel P.*

    Thanks for your response, Alison. It’s good to hear from so many fellow frustrated applicants and hiring managers, and I appreciate the insights that have been shared.

    Quite a few commenters have mentioned that the online application is used as an automatic screening tool. In that case, would it be worth the time to rewrite the employment history section using keywords and phrases from the desired job description? If a human is the one reviewing those sections, I can expect him or her to make reasonable assumptions about my qualifications based on previous job titles and accomplishments. Not so with an electronic system.

      1. Rachel P.*

        Thanks, Alison. I don’t bother with buzzwords in my resume, which certainly seem like a waste of time and an insult to the hiring manager’s intelligence. But I am curious as to whether online applications screen (and kick out) applicants based on those keywords or phrases. It would be a bummer to miss out on something for which I was truly qualified because I didn’t list X or Y duties.

          1. Rachel P.*

            Resume space is limited, but online application fields aren’t always. Would you add more information about duties and accomplishments? Sorry to keep bombarding you with questions. I’m just trying to understand if copying and pasting from your resume is the *best* way to fill out an app or just the most efficient.

            1. Ask a Manager* Post author

              No, I’d just copy and paste from your resume. It’s that length for a reason — it’s what most hiring managers want and you don’t want to dilute your most important info with other stuff.

    1. Mike*

      I don’t know about other fields but for computer science a skills section is pretty much mandatory so it’d cover the majority of the key words that an employer might be searching for.

  29. sophiabrooks*

    At my job we currently have a situation where the hiring manager interviewed and offered a job to someone. Then they had to fill out the University application. He told the hiring manager that he did not graduate from college, just attended, but there was not a space to put that on the online application. The hiring manager told him to just fill it in as if he had graduated. Perhaps you can see where this is going… this poor candidate is now not only not able to take our job, but barred from applying to the University for they next several years!

    1. ArtsNerd*

      Oh no! Are they working with him to correct the issue or sticking by their policy, despite the hiring manager giving him bad info?

  30. Mike*

    After I accepted the offer I got the welcome packet of paperwork that needed to be signed. In it was a job application. I intentionally “forgot” to fill that out and didn’t include it in the scans of the signed pages. Fortunately HR just asked for a copy of my resume at act in lieu of the application.

  31. Mike*

    Kinda funny (at least to me) online application story:

    In March I got contacted by an external recruiter. During the time between setting a time to chat and actually chatting I applied for a job at company X using Jobvite. Turns out the recruiter forwarded me onto that same company (less than 24 hours later). I informed the recruiter but said I was cool with them representing me. Made it through the phone screen and was asked to come interview. A couple of days before the interview I cancelled and accept an offer from another company. Yesterday I got a response from Jobvite saying that they reviewed my application but are declining to proceed. This is more than 5 weeks later. I have a common enough name that it is possible they didn’t realize they had spoken to me last month. When I got the email I just laughed and thought “You can’t reject me, I already rejected you!”

  32. Vick*

    Fill in the application and don’t use “See resume” for anything, especially the work experience section.

    Your resume is marketing material and formatting is subject to any number of several hundred templates, font styles, spacing, and may have been thought out for hours, days, weeks, or months through multiple rough drafts, drafts, and revisions.

    Your prospective employer’s application is a roadmap they’re intimately familiar with and is more a true reflection of how you respond spontaneously to inquirey of your knowledge, communication capability, and relection of your skills related to the position for which you are applying.

    I use “See resume” to exclude applicants based solely on their inability to follow directions properly and presumption they feel their time is more valuable than my own. Especially if the applicant pool is large and I want to cull the herd quickly. If I scan the rejects with more than a cursory glance and see a somewhat interesting application I will ask them to return and fill in my application form completely. If they respond as requested, they may get a second chance to make a first impression, otherwise, better luck elsewhere!

    1. Onymouse*

      When the economy’s better, I think you’ll find that people will seek their fortunes elsewhere indeed.

    2. JAX*

      “Your resume is marketing material and formatting is subject to any number of several hundred templates, font styles, spacing, and may have been thought out for hours, days, weeks, or months through multiple rough drafts, drafts, and revisions.”

      But if I cut and paste it into your boxes that’s much better?!? How ridiculous.

  33. anon librarian*

    I was on a job for six years when the second in command administrator came up to me at the Wednesday faculty meeting and said, “Ms. Stark, we were reviewing your personnel file and there are no letters of reference . We require a minimum of three. Could you please get those for us.” I said, “Mr. Lannister, when do you need those by?” and he said “Friday.”

  34. Vicki*

    When I fill those in after the fact of hiring, I write “See resume” in most of the spaces.

    Staples are cheap.

  35. HR Diva*

    Most companies’ applications have a paragraph that testifies that all the info provided is true and the applicant signs off on that. A few years a go a large local company reviewed their employees’ educational background and as a result fired many who lied on the application. Many applications also have the employment-at will statement attached. I would never ask someone who was hired to fill in references after the fact, but I do want their educational and employment history.

  36. anon all the way*

    I loathe these online applications. It’s made the hiring process even more impersonal and gives a hiring manager even more of an excuse now to not even respond personally to candidates. I can understand for huge corporations where there are sometimes hundreds of candidates applying for one position. But a smaller company? I hate filling out these online applications instead of seeing a resume. It’s unfair and unfortunate because whatever systems they have in place, I feel like they won’t even look at my resume and cover letter. It’s just pointless and I really truly feel that unless you talk to someone, just basing them off an automated system can eliminate really good qualified candidates.

    It used to be you just had a phone screening and then maybe an interview. Or you know, actually going in face-to-face for an interview or a few! Now I have to submit all this repeated information to an online system and it’s not really fair to put a candidate through that when chances are, my application isn’t even going to be looked at to begin with because of whatever automation systems they have set up.

  37. JenTheNiceHRGirl*

    Filling out an app after the fact is kind of pointless. We have an online app that everyone fills out and signs off on. It is for compliance purposes really (we have some areas where we are required by law to keep track of certain data when hiring). Anyway, our database pulls the info directly from the candidates resume that they upload so all they have to do is fill in the blanks (usually references) and digitally sign off. So it isn’t too bad. The signing off part really isn’t that important so if we did hire someone and they didn’t fill out the app ahead of time, I would think that I could just collect the info that I needed from the new hire and update the records myself… I would feel silly asking them to complete an app when they had already started. I like having everything digital because I am not a paperwork person.

  38. s*

    Ha, bureaucracy, so true! I had gotten flown across the country for an all-day job interview, then a few weeks after got contacted and asked to apply to a specific just-posted job posting on the company’s website… and then got called back the next day to be offered the job. Such silliness!

  39. Mander*

    Ugh. I hate online applications that have no flexibility. I’m originally from the US and now living in the UK, and I don’t have any British qualifications except my PhD. But trying to explain that in online application forms is problematic at best. Even academic posts, which are fairly likely to attract foreigners, seem to be oblivious to the idea that someone might move to another country.

    I recently tried to apply for a job that had a PDF form you were supposed to fill out and email back, but which you were strictly forbidden to change the format of. Fine, except the person who created it chose a huge font size for the text fields and the required information didn’t actually fit into the boxes. I finally gave up on that one.

  40. Keith*

    With the integration of various HR and Talent Systems the ATS (applicant tracking system) now allows organizations to take the information (data) from the online application and populate it across various platforms. As an example – if I’m a business leader who is opening up in Latin America I may want to search my workforce for people who have certain language skills, educational requirements, relocation preferences, have met certain performance standards, been identified as a HiPo, taken specialized training and are within x% of their compa-ratio. With an integrated platform I can now pull data from the ATS, the performance system, the learning management system, the succession platform and even the compensation system. So while it often is a pain for the candidate and may even dissuade people from taking the time to complete – the value for the company extends beyond the hiring manager. The data is used for workforce planning long after the candidate is hired. As a Business or HR leader – this information is invaluable.

  41. Pigbitin Mad*

    Well, I wouldn’t mind filling it out after I got the job ONCE. However, I feel that putting 10000% effort into something when I have a better shot at winning the lottery is so annoying that I usually bail out halfway.

    Imagine if you had to fill out a two page form by hand for every lottery ticket you bought.

    I will make the effort to fill out the form when I feel that my effort is not being completely overlooked every time.

    I may not be the very best of the best, but I have to believe I am in the top 85% of humans while applying for the dregs of jobs. I have to think companies are missing out because there are lots of people like me who simply will not stand for this B.S.

  42. Mel*

    I for one require applications to show consistency in hiring practices AND to be able to utilize our tracking system. It also gathers the EEO and source information as well. Having said that, I keep our applications shorter and relevant to the information I need to know. When someone fills out the application and simply says “see resume” I won’t interview them even if they have relevant experience. The reason? They cannot follow simple instructions. Having said that, I also recruit for drivers so they do not always have a resume. But I did the same thing when I was a corporate recruiter for a government contractor. We had strict requirements and I had no time for someone who couldn’t follow instructions. It’s right up there with people calling me when the confirmation email they get after applying explicitly states not to call me to verify the application was received (because the confirmation email IS verification it was received). I am not solely a recruiter, I am a one-woman department and I don’t have time to be called constantly like that or to check applications and see they couldn’t answer “Do you have courier experience, if so what type and how many years?” properly and put “All of this is on my resume”

    1. RP*

      That right there is the main reason I don’t apply for roles that use application forms. They’re always designed to serve the needs of people that want employees who “follow their instructions”. I only ever work for people that allow me to use my own initiative and experience to solve their business problems.

      1. Erica*

        THIS. If “Follows time-wasting instructions in service of a broken system without complaint” is a job requirement, I don’t want to work there!

  43. Anna*

    You are not required to even interview a candidate without either a resume or an application. If you do, it could fall into grey area of impropriety in the hiring process, which could become a nightmare in this era of sue everyone for anything you can think of.

  44. Adam Talbott*

    They need an option for leaving a job called “Company closed due to the financial disaster of 2008.” That is exactly what happened with me, yet all I can do is hit “Laid off” or “Quit” and try to explain it in the comments section. Meh.

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