Working in people & HR consulting can be a weird thing.
It’s not like we’re an employee – a director of compliance – who mandates the rules.
We can’t insist a client do something. We recommend it.
Using an employee application, however, is closer to “insist” than “recommend”.
Lots of businesses and organizations have gotten out of the habit of ensuring every applicant completes an application, especially in an era where so few people are interviewing in person.
We’ve seen dozens of recent instances where an application would have saved a client a lot of grief.
So what’s the big deal about an application for employment in an era where we get tons of information from the online application questions?
The primary reason is the signatures of the candidate. Normally, the applicant should acknowledge:
You’re an at-will employer (if indeed you are an at-will employer);
They promise not to lie in the process (and gives you certain rights if they do); and
That you have the right to do a background check and proof of work eligibility if hired.
Applications are also a great way to capture data, as resume information is inconsistent. In addition, they capture the same information from everyone – avoiding or reducing the risk of perceived bias.
We had a client who hired someone who completed an application and a background check. But the results of the background check went in the file unreviewed. The employee soon began to exhibit performance problems. Upon review of the file, it was discovered that the employee had lied on their application and they were promptly terminated.
It’s also a step that is taken showing strong interest in a position. Many people skip jobs where completing extra paperwork (other than uploading a resume) is too much work. With the advent of online applicant tracking systems, it removes the number of people who auto-apply for every opening out there.
Every candidate who you speak with (whether by phone, video, or in-person) should complete an application prior to that interaction.
You don’t need to have candidates who apply, but not interviewed, complete the application.
We don’t (actually we can’t) insist that our clients do things. But ensuring an application is completed ranks pretty close to a must-do.
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