Applications for Employment
Hiring Lay Staff: Do We Really Have to Use an Application Form?
Completing a job application is the first assignment you will give a potential employee and what he or she does with that application will tell you a lot about what kind of “fit” there is between the person and job you are offering. But, as in all things dealing with employment, be careful of the dos and don’ts as you design your application form.
- Don’t let a résumé substitute for an application. A résumé is a networking and advertising vehicle prepared by the candidate; an application is a tool designed to help you find the person who is the right fit for the position. It is also a legal document. Ask the candidate to complete the entire application -- not simply write “see résumé” on the form.
- Don’t ask for a social security number on your application. In today’s world keeping personal information secure is very important. Ask for a SSN only when you have to do a background check, complete a W-4 or when enrolling an employee in benefit plans.
- Don’t ask for information that is prohibited by law or that could give the appearance of being discriminatory. Do not ask questions about gender, about a person’s maiden name or marital status; spouse; preference for “Miss,” “Mrs.,” or “Ms.”; pregnancy; family plans; or childcare arrangements. Do not ask about age or date of birth. Avoid asking for age-related information such as graduation dates. Do not ask about arrest records (this is expressly prohibited under many state laws).
- Do ask only for information related directly to an applicant’s ability to do a specific job.
- Be certain to include a section at the end of the application form that covers waivers and disclosures. This should include a statement that all information on the application is truthful and accurate, an authorization to release employment history and references, a statement that this application does not represent any kind of contract or offer of employment, and a notice that by law you can only hire people who are authorized to work in the U.S. and that if the candidate is hired, he or she will be required to provide proof of such authorization.
- Always make sure that the candidate signs the completed application.
- Be certain to have an employment attorney review any form you plan to use to make certain that it reflects the laws in your state.
Yes, you really do need to have a candidate complete an application form. A carefully designed form should help make your hiring task easier and better -- not create additional problems for you.
You may find a sample application here. You will want to adapt this sample application to your own needs. Since state laws vary, before you use any application form, consult with an attorney who specializes in employment law and modify as necessary to comply with your state’s laws. You should also consult with your local employment attorney if you need more specific information on any issue related to this article or hiring practices.
Please be aware that rostered leaders who are engaged in ministry are treated differently from lay staff in terms of hiring practices and legal requirements. This article does not deal with rostered leader hiring. In the process of deciding to interview a pastor or other rostered leader, your call committee will have received a copy of a Rostered Leader Profile which gives extensive background information and responses to questions about congregational ministry. This typically serves as the application.
Administration Matters July 2010