This post is for young adults looking for their first job and also for us well-seasoned job search veterans too! Lemme tell you why: job applications are getting nosier than your Aunt Lois at Thanksgiving dinner asking you when you gonna get married and have some chil’ren. Job apps are all up in your business because: information. Chile, information is worth all the coins on the internets! Allow me to elaborate…
If you have been in these job searching streets longer than a week and filled out more than 5 online job applications, you know the questions asked are getting nosier dennamug*. I’ve written before about how it’s none of your business how much money I make now or at my last job and now I’m finna add “it’s none of your business where I live”. You’re confused now huh? I’m vetoing something as basic as a home address on a job application. I know it sounds like I’m doing the absolute most, but hol’ up!
I, too, used to fill out that section of a job application without a second thought. You, like me, may be old enough to remember when all job apps were on paper and we would meticulously answer each question. Social security number? No problem. Home address? No problem. Date of birth? No problem. The only thing that kept identity theft from running all the amoks then was lack of a way to disseminate the information quickly and get the most coinage. Welcome to the 21st century where job applications met the internet, but the questions didn’t change, so we have to change how we answer them!
I noticed something one day that made me reconsider how much information is too much information when filling out a job application. What I noticed was a sudden increase in junk mail that was significant enough to make me wonder “what the what”? Further study revealed that sporadic increases in junk mail were coinciding with sporadic increases in my job search activity. Could it be? Could it be that these job applications were a source of contact information for what’s essentially spam? Yes. Yes, it could. Speaking of spam, know what else would increase sporadically during these times of increased job search activity? * drum roll * SPAM! Who’da thunk it?
So, without further ado, here are my own personal (YMMV) job application don’ts:
- Don’t include your full address on internet job applications unless you enjoy getting copious amounts of useless junk mail. Use “undisclosed” in the street address field instead. And don’t use your full address on your résumé either; city and state is ample information just to apply for a job.
- Don’t use your actual email address on internet job applications unless you enjoy getting copious amounts of useless spam. Use a disposable email address you use only for applying to jobs online. It’s best to use a different one for each job because if you only use one and it gets spammed and you dispose of it, legit employers you applied to will get caught in the same net and you could miss important contacts.
- Don’t don’t don’t don’t give references in a job application! There is absolutely no reason a potential employer needs references for an applicant who may never even get interviewed, let alone offered a job. Don’t risk the information of your precious and generous network contacts because of a required field on a job application. Just use “undisclosed” in every field required, use a fake phone number like 888-888-8888, and make up a fake email address like firstname.lastname@example.org to get around those required fields. This info can surely wait until after an interview, no?
- Don’t EVER, for the love of all that is right in your life, enter your social security number, the last four of your social security number (for a PIN (o__-)), and/or your date of birth into an online job application. Jobs related to schools and government are the worst about this, but with massive data breaches occurring every other day, I’m sure any of those places worth working for can understand your cautiousness until after an actual interview.
- Don’t disclose previous salary information in an online job application, if not for privacy and security reasons, then because of how it tips the scales in the favor of the employer ALWAYS. This is especially important if you know you have been or are now being paid far below your market value. To get an idea of what your market value is, check out the Bureau of Labor Statistics Occupational Outlook Handbook, Glassdoor’s salary calculator (requires account creation), or Payscale.com (you don’t have to create an account; look for the link at the bottom that says “just show me my salary report”.)
- *Bonus* Don’t join any “talent networks” if you can apply for the job without doing so. “Talent network” is a euphemism for “massive database of all of your information that benefits you none but makes us money if we sell it”. If it can’t be avoided, remember don’ts 1-5.
Are there any questions you avoid answering on an online job application? If you see something, say something chile!
*By the by, for those of you who aren’t familiar with some of the “we-speak” in my posts, here’s a pretty comprehensive glossary courtesy of my mostest favorite blogger Awesomely Luvvie. I loved her blog from the first read because she spoketh my language and I needeth not the glossary to enjoy her witdom. You should totally check out some of her older, pre-2k17 posts! I’ll probably have my own glossary at some point for words like “witdom” but this’ll do for now. Bunches!