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In a competitive field like IT, there are many key factors that can determine whether you get the job you’re applying for or not. Having both a well written resume and cover letter is very important to the employment process, but it doesn’t just end there. Employers are constantly looking for ways to make the applicant screening process more efficient. Some resumes are filled with inaccuracies, over exaggerations, and flat out lies, but for the employer that’s where applications and skills test come in. Over the course of this document I will be giving a few tips on what to expect when filling out job applications and taking skill/aptitude tests.

Unlike a resume where applicants provide information about their own background, skills, and work history, a job application is designed by the employer to gain the exact information they need when going through the hiring process. Applications are also used as a tool to compare applicants by having them answer the same questions and then using their answers to determine who fits the position best. When filling out a job application be sure to read it carefully and answer truthfully, but at the same time try to avoid negatives. For example, when asked about the last position you held never say you were fired. Even if you were, there are better ways to word these kind of things without providing incorrect information. Phrases like “job ended” or “seeking a better fit” are better alternatives to use as they don’t have the same negative connotations as words like fired or terminated.  This next tip may seem really obvious but it’s really important to keep in mind; never leave any part of the application blank. If you are unsure of the question that’s being asked, or if the question just doesn’t apply to you, marking N/A (not applicable) is a better option than leaving it blank. Having blanks spots on your application can give the employer the impression that you either didn’t read over the application well or are avoiding the question, so try answering each question to the best of your ability.

When applying for different jobs there are multiple scenarios that you can find yourself in. You may have to fill out an application online, on paper and some companies even conduct on the spot interviews with potential employees. No matter what the situation is it is always helpful to have an application data sheet on hand. An application datasheet is a document that contains the more detailed information about yourself that you won’t find on a resume like past employee phone numbers, full addresses and your social security number. Having this information on hand is not always necessary, but it can help speed up the hiring process as you won’t have to waste time by coming back another day to give the employer that information later. The last tip I have for the application process comes after you’ve already submitted the actual application but it’s still very important. If you want to really convince an employer that you are interested in the position make sure you follow up on the application. Make a phone call or send an email a few days after the submission and if possible politely ask if there’s any update on the position. Taking the time to follow up can greatly increase your chances of getting called back for an interview.

Another important part of the hiring process to get familiar with are skill testing and aptitude tests. Skill tests helps employers judge and narrow down which candidates are better suited for the position based on test performance. These types of pre-employment tests come in many different varieties such as math, grammar, personality and other job specific tests. Due to the wide variety of testing you may be presented with during the job seeking process, it’s pretty hard to prepare for them. The best advice is to stay calm and answer each question as best you can. Having a base knowledge of what skills you may need before applying to a specific job is also highly advised.