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Job Application: What is it?

Although a job application may seem like a basic item that anyone who is in business can put together in order to screen candidates, it’s important to recognize that there are certain things that should be asked and there are things that cannot be asked because of both state and federal laws that are put in place to protect people from discrimination. Traditionally, job applications ask for a synopsis of personal information (primarily this is the applicant’s name, address, and phone number), their educational background, and previous employment history. Additionally, many job applications include an authorization by the prospective employee that allows the business to run a background check that may include looking for certain types of criminal charges.

There are some illegal practices that are often used simply because businesses are unaware that they shouldn’t ask for certain information. For instance, while it is legal to ask for the applicant to check a box that certifies they are at least 18 years of age (or 21 years of age for certain establishments), it is illegal to ask for a date of birth or the applicant’s age on a job application. This helps protect potential employees from age discrimination.

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Contents of A Job Application

Job applications cannot request information on a person’s gender, their race or perceived race, their religion or perceived religion, or their national origin. A job application may not request a description of disabilities or physical traits.

While a job application may request basic information related to education, such as whether the applicant finished high school or went to college, a job application may not request educational information if it didn’t fit the position.

There are federal and state laws regarding what businesses may and may not ask related to a person’s criminal history and credit history. Businesses should ensure that they adhere to all state and federal laws related to screening and hiring candidates in this area or they could face steep civil and criminal penalties.

Using a job application template can help a business in two distinct ways. First, the business knows that as long as they got their template from a reputable source, it will most likely conform to federal laws and not include items that are considered discriminatory. Second, it provides businesses with a way to save time since all the business would need to do is print off the template when it is needed. It is still important that any business that decides to use a job application template make sure that the form complies with state employment laws.