What to Include in Your Application

There are certain statements and information that you will want to include on a job application for your own purposes. They give applicants clear information about your business and what you expect as a potential employer.

Release of information form. To protect yourself and to inform the applicant of exactly what your reference checking plans are, ask the applicant to sign an information release form that gives you permission to check references.

Keep the original with the applicant's file and make copies to distribute with written letters and to fax to people who request it for phone reference checks.

 
Business Tools

You can use the sample applicant information release form contained in the Business Tools area for your reference checks.

Employment-at-will statement. Application forms frequently include the assertion that the applicant, if hired, will be subject to employment-at-will.

Employment-at-will means that the employee may leave at any time and that the employer may terminate the employee at any time, whether for cause or not. Employment-at-will statements are designed to make sure that you're not creating or implying that an employment contract will be created, should you hire the applicant.

You can include a disclaimer on application forms telling applicants that the application (or other written documents) does not create an employment contract.

 
Example

"I understand that, if hired, my employment would be "at-will" and could be terminated at any time by either party, with or without cause and with or without notice."

False information statement. You may have a policy of terminating an employee if it is discovered that the employee made false statements on his or her resume or job application. A statement to that effect in the job application gives prospective employees notice that submission of false statements will not be tolerated and gives them incentive to fill out the form correctly.

 
Example

"I certify that the statements I have made are true and correct to the best of my knowledge. I understand that the submission of any false information or the omission of any requested information in connection with my application for employment, whether on this document or not, may be cause for failure to hire or for immediate discharge should I be employed by ABC Company, Inc."

Work authorization statement. Although you cannot discriminate on the basis of citizenship, proof of identity and work authorization are required of all employees by the Immigration Reform and Control Act.

To bolster documentation of your compliance efforts and to make sure that applicants understand what is required of them include the following statement:

 
Example

"Applicants are required to furnish proof of identity and legal work authorization prior to hire."

Active application period. In companies that get a lot of applications, the applications are kept in an "active" file for only a limited period of time. You may want to include that information on the employment application in order to prevent any misunderstanding of the hiring process by the applicants. You may also invite them to reapply after the period is over. If you want to do that, include a statement like this on your application:

 
Example

"I acknowledge the fact that this application of employment will be active for 60 days; after this time period, I must reapply for further consideration."

For employees of 15 or more. Even though a job application is removed from the "active" file, that does not mean you can toss it. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission requires that you keep hiring information on unsuccessful applicants for a year, and it is good practice to keep it even longer.

If the applicant is hired, of course, the job application becomes part of his or her personnel file.

Confidentiality statement. A simple confidentiality statement that will allay an applicant's fears about sharing information is all that is necessary.

 
Example

"All information will be kept strictly confidential."

You need to take it seriously, though. If you tell your friend that someone from XYZ company applied for a job with you, and your friend tells someone that he knows at XYZ company in passing conversation, it could cause problems for your applicant. In a worst-case scenario, you could be sued for harming the applicant's employment or other relationships. The information that applicants give is serious be sure to treat it that way.

Work rules. Some companies choose to use the application to provide applicants with information about work rules. The application statement also provides an opportunity to have the applicant agree to abide by all work rules, if hired. If you will require any sort of drug testing, you should mention it in the employment application.

 
Example

"If employed by Your Company, Inc., I agree to abide by its rules and regulations. I understand that Your Company, Inc., may unilaterally change or revise its benefits, policies, and procedures and that such changes may include a reduction in benefits."

"I understand that Your Company, Inc., has a drug and alcohol policy that provides for preemployment testing as well as testing after employment. I understand that consent to and compliance with the policy is a condition of my employment and that continued employment is based on the successful passing of testing under the policy."

Noncompete clauses and trade secrets. You can require, as a condition of employment, that an employee sign a statement promising not to reveal secrets or to work for a competitor. Unless you're in a highly competitive, scientific, or high-security field, you probably don't need this.

Such a statement on an employment application puts applicants on notice that nondisclosure is a requirement of employment.

 
Example

"I understand that if I am hired at XYZ company, I may be privy to sensitive information. Upon hire, I also understand that I may be asked to execute a noncompete agreement."

It is, however, more effective to make applicants sign a separate agreement, drawn up by your attorney, when hired.

Effect of the application. Just as a matter of extra protection for you, the employer, at the end of whichever policy statements you choose to put on your application form, add the following:

 
Example

"This understanding supersedes all prior agreements and representations, and any subsequent understanding that affects this arrangement must be in writing and signed by the Owner/President of XYZ Company."

"I hereby warrant that I have read and fully understood the foregoing and seek employment under these conditions of my own free will and in accordance with my own judgment."

Have the applicant sign and date the application. This documents that the applicant knew about all the policy statements that you included in your application.