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Job applicants must fill in all the blanks

By Patricia Hunt Sinacole
Globe Correspondent / September 11, 2011

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Q. I am a new supervisor. I recently began the hiring process for a position. Several candidates have completed our company’s job application in a very sparse way, answering some but not all of the questions. They often write “see resume’’ or “see attached’’ particularly in the sections which ask about the candidate’s employment history. I am not sure if this is acceptable. Do you have an opinion about this?

A. Let’s start by discussing the purpose of an employment application: to collect and document job-related information about a candidate. If used, an employment application should be given consistently to all candidates.

Resumes are usually developed by a candidate. The main purpose of a resume is to showcase a candidate’s background and skills in the most positive light. There is no requirement to include all positions held or even provide accurate details. Some candidates will omit negative information, such as a job from which they were terminated.

Most companies that use employment applications look for detailed and consistent information about a candidate. Often it will have “fine print’’ that includes warnings that the information provided must be truthful and complete. It may even explain that a candidate who is hired could be terminated later if the information provided is discovered to be false or incomplete.

Your instincts are on target. You should require all candidates to complete the application form. When a candidate signs an employment application, the candidate is agreeing that this form contains truthful and accurate information.

I would suggest explaining to candidates, in advance, that you require all to complete the application fully. You can encourage candidates to submit a resume, but be clear that it is not a substitute for the employment application. I have even had to say “Please don’t enter explanations like ‘see resume’ on the employment application form.’’

Patricia Hunt Sinacole is chief executive of First Beacon Group, a human resources consulting firm in Hopkinton.