Filling Out Job Applications
How you answer questions on a job application can help get you a job interview.
Most employers require job applications because they are a screening tool. They use applications to determine if individuals have the skills to do the job. The most important thing to do when filling out job applications is to be honest.
In most cases, Minnesota employers won’t ask you about your criminal record on a job application because of the "Ban the Box" law.
In the State of Minnesota a "Ban the Box" law was passed to remove questions about convictions from applications for public (government) and private employers. You should still be prepared to talk about your conviction with an employer. An employer can still ask you about convictions and conduct a background check. This law just moves that conversation to later in the process, so that an employer gets the opportunity to meet you before making up their mind. There are some jobs that are exempted from the "Ban the Box" requirement.
Often employers require candidates to complete the job application on the company website, use a job search website, or use a computer station at their location. This can be tricky for someone not used to filling out forms on a computer. Sometimes you have limited time to complete the online application.
Use this practice online job application form to help you get comfortable with the process.
Applying In Person
When going to a company to fill out an application in person, keep these in mind:
- Be polite and respectful to everyone you meet — from the time you enter the parking lot to the time you meet with the potential employer.
- Assume that you are being watched while filling out the application. Employers want to see if any job candidate is like someone who will represent their company well.
- Dress as if you were going for an interview.
- Do some research on the company before going there. Then you can impress them if you are asked to interview on the spot.
Job Application Tips
- A job application is like a first impression on paper or online. It's your chance to tell employers that you have the skills they need. Make sure this first impression is as positive as possible.
- Read each question on the application completely. Only give the information that is requested.
- Have a personal data record or a copy of a job application (pdf) that has details of your prior employment, including dates of employment, employer's names, addresses, phone numbers, and contact information for your references.
- Complete the application neatly and completely. Follow directions, and sign "release of information forms." Not signing these forms could be a red flag to employers.
- Minnesota Department of Human Rights (MDHR) offers a "Ban the Box Submission Form." You can use this form to confidentially report employment applications that include criminal history questions. This will help the MDHR enforce "Ban the Box."