Job Application Guide

Job Applications: Online, Direct, Email, Samples, Forms

Hand pointing to mail symbol on tablet computer
Jonathan Kitchen/Digital Vision/Getty Images

Getting ready to start a job search? This job application guide includes information on how to complete a job application, paper job applications, online applications, and employer direct applications.

Also review job application samples, examples, and forms and everything else you need to know to successfully apply for a job.

Online Job Applications
There are thousands sites where you can post your resume online and complete an online job application.

Some sites let you upload an existing resume with the click of a button. On other sites, you can copy and paste or use a resume building wizard. Here's how to apply for a job online.

In Person Job Applications
Many companies, especially retail and hospitality employers, expect applicants to apply in person. It's not as complicated as applying online, but you will need to be prepared to apply and interview on the spot.

Email Job Applications
When you are using email to apply for jobs, it's important that all your communications are as professional as they would be if you were mailing a paper resume and cover letter. Here's advice on how to submit job applications via email.

Information Required to Complete a Job Application
When you complete a job application, regardless of whether it is a paper application or an online job application, there is information you will need to provide in order to complete the job application and submit your application for employment.

How to Complete a Job Application
Here is the information you will need to complete an application for employment and tips and suggestions for writing applications that make a great impression.

Job Application Mistakes to Avoid
A mistake in your job application can cost you an interview. Here are some of the most common mistakes applicants make on employment applications and how to avoid them.

Sample Employment Applications
Review sample employment application forms, then download a copy, print, and fill it out so you know what information you need to have ready to apply for jobs.

Supporting Documents for a Job Application
Supporting documents are the documents that may be required when applying for a job. Supporting documentation for a job application may include a resume, a cover letter, your transcript, a writing sample, Veterans' Preference documents, portfolios, certifications, a reference list, letters of recommendation, employment certificates, and other supporting documentation as specified in the job posting.

Letter of Application Writing Guidelines
Guidelines for writing a letter of application for employment, including what should be included in the letter, choosing a font size and style, and letter spacing and formatting.

Required Job Application Forms
In many cases, even if you submit a resume, you will also be asked to complete a job application. This way the employer will have consistent data on file for all prospective applicants. Also, your signature on the job application acknowledges that the information is accurate.

Apply Direct at Company Websites
You can go directly to the source and search for and apply for jobs online directly on many company web sites.

At most company sites, you can apply for all level positions online - from part-time hourly jobs to top management positions.

Apply at a Hiring Kiosks
Hiring kiosks allow job applicants to fill out online job applications (instead of paper ones) while in a store or office.

Part-Time Job Applications
Applying for a part-time job is a little different from applying for a full-time professional position. You may not need a resume and cover letter, but you should follow these basic rules.

Job Application Letters
Review advice on writing job application letters and sample job application letters to send with your resume when applying for jobs.

Job Application Tips
Before you complete a job application, either online or in-person, it's important to have all the information you need to complete the application on hand.

Review these job application tips to be sure you're prepared to submit an application for employment.

Job Application Rules
The most important rule to remember when applying for jobs is to follow the directions. If the employer tells you to apply in person, don't call. If the job posting says to mail your resume, do not send it via email. When the job listing says apply via a form on the company web site, don't email your application directly to Human Resources. There is not much more annoying to hiring managers than job seekers who don't follow the rules!

Job Applications In Person

Applying for a job in person is a little different than applying for employment online. It's not as complicated, but you will need to be prepared to apply and interview on the spot.

If you are applying for a position at a large company, call first to see if there are openings or visit the customer service center or human resources office and ask if you can complete an application for employment.

At a smaller employer, ask for the manager.

You may be asked to fill out an application at a hiring kiosk. In this case, you will use a computer or a free-standing kiosk to apply.

Also be prepared to complete a paper job application. So, bring the information you'll need to fill out an application with you.

What You Need to Complete a Job Application

  • Full contact information including your address, zip code and a phone number where you can be reached
  • Educational information including dates of graduation
  • Names and addresses of previous employers
  • Dates of employment
  • References
  • Resume (if you have one)

Fill Out a Sample Application

Complete a sample job application ahead of time so you know exactly what information you will need to know.

When You Apply

  • Bring a pen so you don't need to borrow one to fill out the application.
  • Know what days/hours you are available to work.
  • Be prepared for a brief on-the-spot interview.
  • Dress should be, at the least, neat and tidy. Business casual is usually appropriate.
  • Make sure your hair and fingernails are well groomed.
  • Wear moderate shoes.
  • Make a follow-up call a week or so after you have applied, if possible, to check on the status of your application.

    Online Job Applications

    There are thousands of websites where you can post your resume online and complete an online job application. Applicants either apply online via a job board, like, or apply online directly at the company's web site.

    In some cases, job seekers are required to register and to build an employment profile. Once you've built your profile, you can apply for jobs online and set up search agents to email you when new jobs are added to the system.

    Applicants can then apply online for specific positions at any time that is convenient for them, with just a few mouse clicks. At larger employers, and on many job sites, job seekers can keep track of the positions they have applied for.

    Here's more information on how to apply for jobs online.

    How Online Job Application Systems Work

    Some sites let you upload an existing resume with the click of a button. On other sites, you can copy and paste from your resume or use a resume builder that is incorporated into the application system.

    Once you have uploaded your resume, you will be able to search for jobs that interest you and submit your application or resume with a click of your mouse.

    Applying For Jobs On Company Websites

    If you are interested in working for a particular company, visit their website. Career information is usually listed in the "Careers" or the "About Us" section of the site. Follow the instructions for searching for and applying to jobs online.

    Here's how to apply for jobs at company websites.

    What You Need to Apply Online

    Online application systems typically ask for your contact information, educational background and employment history. You will need to know when you worked and what you were paid at your previous jobs. You may also be asked what days and hours you are available to work.

    Download a sample job application and complete it before you start your online applications. You will have all the information you need, ready to enter.

    Online Employment Tests

    Depending on the company, you may need to take - and pass - an online test to be considered for employment. Pre-employment tests, also called talent assessments, employment tests, or career tests, are used to help an employer identify candidates who will be a good fit for jobs at the company.

    Employers (Walmart's pre-employment is an example) that utilize testing often do it in conjunction with an online job application, so you will take the test when you apply for a job. The results of the test will determine whether you are invited to interview. Read more about online employment tests and how to take them.

    Check Your Application

    Before you click the Submit button, it's important to double-check your application for errors. Typos and grammatical errors count, so carefully check your application. If you're not sure your spelling is correct, use Microsoft Word and spell/grammar check, then copy/paste into the online application.

    Job Applications Via Email

    When you are using email to apply for jobs, it's important that all your communications are as professional as they would be if you were mailing a paper resume and cover letter. Here's advice on how to submit job applications via email.

    Email Job Applications
    Here is what you need to know about applying for a job via email, including what to include in your job search emails, how to format your email, how to write your cover letter in the body of an email message, and how to make sure your email message is opened and read.

    Tips for Email Job Applications

    Proofread your email for grammar and spelling (do not trust spell check software). Remember, this is your chance to make a critical first impression; even an emailed note needs to be professional and error-free.

    Be brief and to the point. Your cover letter should not be any longer than two or three short paragraphs.

    Make sure you include a signature with your full name, email address and phone number.

    Include the title of the position you are applying for in the subject line of your message.

    Be sure that your email address has a professional tone.

    If the job posting asks you to send an attachment, send your resume as an MSWord or PDF document. Many employers do not accept attachments. In these cases, paste your resume into your email message. Use a simple font and remove the fancy formatting. Send the message to yourself first to test that the formatting works.

    If everything looks good, resend to the employer.

    Sample Job Application and Cover Letters
    Review sample job application letters and cover letters to get ideas for your own personalized application letters.

    Sample Job Application Email Messages

    Sample Email Cover Letter With Attached Resume
    Sample email cover letter to use when you are sending your resume as an attachment.

    Sample Email Cover Letter With Resume Included
    Sample email cover letter with resume included in the body of the email message.

    Email Inquiry Letter
    Email cover letter sample inquiring about possible job openings.

    Job Application Samples

    Job applications are lengthy and detailed. Review these samples so you will know exactly what the employer is going to want to know about you.

    The best way to prepare to complete job applications is to download a sample job application or two. Complete the application and bring it with you when you are applying for employment.

    This way you will be able to copy the information rather than having to remember dates of employment and education, contact information for previous employers and other information your prospective employer will need to know.

    Job Application Samples
    Sample job applications for you to print out and complete. Great practice!

    Job Application Resources