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Best practices: Finding the right applicants

In an age of frequent Internet use, it's important to know the best means for reaching out to job candidates. Does your area have a popular local newspaper or magazine? Are there region-specific job boards you can take advantage of?

In addition to the standard job posting options, consider using other opportunities for your business needs, including:

  • Temporary employment agencies - You can find virtually any type of employee with an array of skills or background, and bringing someone in to get hands-on experience with your team gives you a chance to evaluate that person's performance before committing to a full-time, permanent position.
  • Internal candidates - Just as cross-training is a great opportunity to improve morale in your office, it's also a way to give employees an opportunity to apply for other positions they might be interested in. Some employees might harbor talents or experience in the position you're searching to fill.
  • Employment agencies - While some require a fee, agencies are often a rich resource of qualified candidates and many have even done the proper screenings to ensure optimal choices.

There are also many standard job opening portals to help extend opportunities to job seekers and potential candidates:

  • Nationwide job boards - Job boards such as or have separate platforms for employers and candidates, so you can view resumes and skills and reach out to qualified seekers before they find you.
  • Local job postings or classified ads - Newspapers are still going strong with classifieds, and a hard copy of available jobs in a portable form, such as in a newspaper or local publication, will still attract attention from job seekers.
  • Referrals - Many companies today offer their current employees referral bonuses to suggest friends, relatives or former colleagues who might be qualified for your open position.

Finding the right employee for the open position is a long process, but utilizing resources such as online job boards, local agencies or want ads can increase your opportunity of reaching the right people.

How to use an employee application

Job applications are convenient, streamlined ways to gather information about potential job applicants and their skills, education or technical knowledge. While resumes will help flesh out specifics regarding their previous jobs or experience, a basic application is a great way to get this information in an organized way.

Standard job application categories include:

  • Name and contact information
  • Educational background
  • Work experience
  • Criminal background (depending on the type of job)
  • Military service
  • Disabilities (depending on the type of job)
  • Personal references
  • Availability

Using applications to review, for example, job history can show the frequency of changing jobs, the connection or likeness between positions, etc. This information can be valuable to compare in the resume or cover letter, and to follow up on during the interview.

To get started building your customized job application, try our employment application template as a resource. As with any legal documents for your company, it is recommended that you have your application reviewed by your attorney.

Reviewing applications: Know what you're looking for

Based on the job description you posted to attract applicants, you should know in advance what skills and background you're interested in from the ideal candidate.

According to an article by the Houston Chronicle, common sense is the first step. 'First impressions do count, and an applicant who doesn't think enough to be careful with his or her application will most likely not be careful in your business.'

  • Investigate the candidate's job history. Look for gaps in employment, or frequent change in positions or companies. 'Job jumpers' may not stay with your company long and could cost you in the long run. 
  • Dig deeper into the candidate's experience. Use the candidate's resume as a guide. More experience in your industry means less training, saving you time and money and getting him or her into the position more quickly.
  • Check references. References say a lot about a candidate, and following up on them gives you the opportunity to probe for more details that a candidate might have listed on the application or resume.

Using your job description as a guide, see where the candidate compares to the position's expectations and goals, and then proceed to choose finalists and prepare for interviewing.

Inviting the best candidates to interview for the job

After reviewing applications and resumes, you've hopefully found a few that stand out from the crowd. But sounding nice on paper and performing well in an interview are very different. That is why meeting in person, if possible, is so important.

Once you've narrowed down the best candidates for the position, it's time to schedule interviews and learn more about each applicant. Using the guidelines above to review applications is a great way to start.

Companies also can open up application reviews to fellow managers or committees, which allows for discussion and a joint decision on the ideal interview candidates.

Keep your options open

Sometimes, a diverse background could bring a wealth of knowledge to the position for which you're hiring. Regardless of what the position is, make sure to utilize required documents, such as job applications, to get a better understanding of your candidate pool before you choose your finalists.

This article contains general legal information and does not contain legal advice. Rocket Lawyer is not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. The law is complex and changes often. For legal advice, please ask a lawyer.

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