Tips and Tricks for Filling Out Employment Applications

I’ll be the first to admit that I am fairly new to the trucking industry. If I’d been told a year ago that a reefer was anything but a slang term for marijuana, I would have thought you were joking. So when my bosses asked me of all people to write a column about trucking, I thought they’d lost their minds. How could someone with my background possibly say anything to North America’s road warriors that they don’t already know? I can tell you where the best drinking fountains are in Disney’s Magic Kingdom. I can quote lines from a hundred different movies. I can even tell you what use the small fork has at a fancy restaurant. All exciting stuff, I know, but not exactly printable material.

So I’ve decided that instead of re-hashing the same old antics you read every month in every magazine, I’d write about something different – something I do know a thing or two about; good public relations.

You have to admit, that in today’s economy, jobs aren’t exactly growing on the money trees they once were. Those that do have jobs are sticking with them to ride out the recession, and those that don’t, well, they’ve pretty much been relegated to two kids snapping the wishbone at Thanksgiving; only one can win. So what separates the winners from the losers?

Filling out an application is like a giant trick question on the SAT exam. They give you blanks and boxes and tell you to fill it in, and it all seems kind of tedious and confusing. You’re not sure exactly what to put and what they’re looking for, so more often than not you just put as much information as possible.

WRONG! Based on the amount of applications most recruiters get in a day, versus the amount of reading, sorting, and calling they have to do. That leaves about ten good minutes of free time to look at each application. They want to know exactly what they asked for, as briefly as possible so they can decide whether or not they want to call you for further questioning.

Now, there’s a fine line between brief and insufficient. Recruiters want to know what they asked for so that they can compare you to other drivers easily, but they also want to know what sets you above the others to contrast you from the other drivers. This is your chance to sell yourself to the recruiter so be sure to take it! Let them know if you received any safe driver awards, commendations for excellence, excellent grades, promotions, or anything else.

Since the phrase, “anything else” can be taken in a very liberal sense, perhaps I should clear up a few fables about applications. The application is your ten minutes in the spotlight to tell the recruiter why you’d be the best person for the job, not a platform to criticize former companies and employers. While the fact that you may have been mistreated, I don’t doubt with the way some companies operate. However, it just doesn’t portray you as easy to work with or friendly, which could cost you the job. If you have to mention something negative, try to say it as objectively as possible. Bring up the rules if you have to and let the recruiter know which ones were broken, but don’t simply say, “Company is full of liars.”

Lying, it’s an icky word – not one you’d want to be called anytime soon. That’s why it is imperative that you complete the application accurately. With all the background checks a company can run, trying to be coy to cover up a past issue will not work, and most likely get your application thrown in the trash can. It’s better to be up front, honest, and admit to wrong-doing. It shows a recruiter that you have learned from your mistakes, which also shows you have the ability and aptitude for improvement. And that could play a key role in your advancement with that company.

And lastly, be sure you complete the application. There are lots of questions and some are easy to miss. Just slow down and read all the instructions and all the questions carefully. How well you fill out the application, and not just what you put can take part in your possible success. If you submit an incomplete application, a recruiter might think you have a hard time following directions, or that you hurry through things without thinking.

With all that said and done, relax! Recruiters are people too, and they’re just trying to make as educated a decision as possible so they can to do their job as best they can. Remember, you’re auditioning them as well to see if that company is even worth driving for. If you show them respect and kindness, most are bound to show you the same in return. Play your cards right and you may just end up in the job of your dreams.

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