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Employment Applications: More Than Just an HR Best Practice

A typewriter with the words "Job Application" written on a piece of paper

Why would we ask a professional candidate with a well-crafted resume to complete an employment application? While many might think that a resume and an employment application are redundant, not all the information requested on an employment application is included on a resume. It is typically a best practice to simply let the candidate know that for the actual work history section of the application, they can indicate “see attached resume” and complete all other questions. It’s these other questions that can provide a more well-rounded picture of the applicant.

As Human Resources ambassadors for the firm, we are so careful to include all the required verbiage in our employee handbooks to comply with policies including the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and at-will employment, to name just a few. But the handbook is only made available to employees of the firm. What about applicants? How do they know of the firm’s commitment to fair employment and compliance with local, state and federal employment law? This is where the employment application becomes key.

In addition to containing legally compliant language, the application should also include questions about the candidate that will help the recruiter better understand if and how a candidate would acclimate to the firm’s workplace and culture. Questions such as:

  • Has the candidate ever been involuntarily terminated or asked to resign?
  • Can the candidate explain any gaps in their employment history?
  • Would the candidate relocate if necessary?
  • How does the candidate feel about business travel?
  • And the most important question: can we contact your previous employer?

Responses to these questions can provide the recruiter with insight into the candidate’s corporate behavior, work history and work ethic. Another consideration would be whether the position is or could be a remote or hybrid position. If the firm operates in a remote environment, questions should be asked to determine whether remote training and onboarding would be suitable for the candidate given their learning and communication style. If that was a possibility, another question might be:

  • If necessary, could the candidate work in a remote work environment?

Think of the employment application as a two-way communication vehicle. In addition to the detailed questions for the candidate, the employment application also provides the perfect opportunity to include language such as:

  • At-will employment clause
  • A statement of truth for the candidate stating that all information given is true and accurate
  • An ADA statement (if applicable)
  • Authorization for a background check
  • An understanding that the candidate will need to comply with rules related to the I9 Form                                                                                                

The firm uses the application to gather key information about the applicant. The more information the recruiter has prior to an interview, the more focused the interview can be, which can help them determine early on whether a candidate is a good fit for the firm. But the application also serves as a method to inform the applicant of the firm’s commitment to maintaining a safe and compliant workplace. It provides a layer of protection for the firm should the candidate file a claim of wrongful hiring practices.

So the next time you think about why it’s necessary to have applicants fill out these detailed applications, remember that it’s for the benefit of both the candidate and the firm.

If your firm has an Employment Practices Liability insurance policy with CAMICO, feel free to contact CAMICO at 1.800.652.1772 or send an email to with your employment-related questions.

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