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What Message Does Your Job Application Convey? | Print |  E-mail

Reprinted from CSP Magazine

How do I attract quality employees? That’s a question retailers have been asking for the last several years. While we could focus on several components to answer that question, today I’d like to focus on one often overlooked area. Job Applications.

That’s right the job application. The document you hand to potential applicants sends a message about you and your business. What message are you sending? Boring, formal, blah, fun, different or exciting? The list of impressions goes on. In the past year we conducted a survey and gathered over 2000 employee applications in all facets of the retail sector. We’ve collected applications from convenience stores, fast food chains, to nearly every other retail store you can imagine. The results were quite interesting.

For the most part, the applications found in service stations and convenience stores were generic. Often the stand-alone black and white offerings sold at Office Depot or Staples were used. Some chains however had created some very unique and inviting applications specific to their business. However consistency in the chain across the country varied. Most fast food chains also had unique company specific applications.

Why is this important? Well, think of the candidate applying for the job. The messages they receive about your business are important. First impressions are lasting. Applicants form an opinion from the minute they pull into your lot, to asking for the application, to completing it either on site or offsite. We found best in class retailers view the position like a new product in the store and market it as such. Therefore they approach the application as the packaging of that product/position. We would never think to introduce a new product in a plain black and white bag without a fancy sign drawing attention to it. So let’s not do the same with job opportunities.

Additionally if an individual is seeking employment they’re probably completing several applications with other employers. The challenge is to make your application stand out. Below are six sections that can enhance your application.

Six Sections to Consider on Job Applications:

1. Color. Some of the best applications were not black and white. They incorporated color and the brand logo. Some even used graphics. (McDonalds does a great job of this.)

2. Quantity of questions. Keep the questions brief. We found some applications that were five and six pages. It shouldn’t be a project for the applicant. Applications that are too long are not likely to be completed.

3. Quality of questions. Remember, you’ll always have the interview to ask most of your questions. Try and stick to only questions that are necessary at this point.

4. Benefits. Not all companies offer the same benefits. Use the application as a means to communicate the benefits you offer employees. Even if they seem standard put them on there. If another company’s application doesn’t have them listed and you do the applicant will see you as being different and may even assume the other employer doesn’t offer benefits.

5. WIIFM. Add a section that answers the question, What In It For Me? Some of the best applications have a section that highlights some of the skills employees learn on the job. Examples might be interpersonal skills, customer service, communication skills, teamwork, suggestive selling, and cash handling.

6. Company History. No matter how large or how old your organization is don’t hesitate to mention the history of the company. People like to feel connected to something and take pride in their employer. Many of you have a great history that can briefly be added to an application.

You may not think the application has an impact. To see how different or not so different you are shop your trade area and ask for an application. See what job applicants see and you’ll quickly discover how different you are, or not. Enhancing the job application is a quick and easy solution to differentiate you to quality candidates.

© 2009 Employee Performance Strategies Inc.
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