Application Monkey Business – Explained.

As promised yesterday, I’m here to explain the mystery that is online applications.  We’ve all felt like that poor monkey in this gif – patiently uploading your resume to the job posting, and then the dreaded message appears: “Please enter your employment history and personal identification information to complete your application.”

Why do you have to manually enter and certify and click (seeming to no end) all of your employment history and personal information?  You ask me, why the employer can’t just accept your resume as the application and get on with it?  Well, there are some important considerations for employers, especially when it comes to employment law and compliance with government regulations.

Employer Protection

Applications are legal documents.  You may have noticed some disclaimers at the the end of your online application process where you are required to click/digitally sign the application?  When you do that, you are certifying that everything you have entered (and uploaded) is true and correct, including your declaration of whether or not you have been convicted of a crime and whether or not you can perform the duties of the job without a special accommodation, to name a few.  The purpose of this is not only to get your “oath” that you are applying accurately, it also serves to authorize the employer to conduct a Verification of Employment and Background Check should you accept a conditional offer of employment.  Without this certification and authorization, you’d be required to fill out yet another form, so call it efficiency and protecting you.  You wouldn’t want your current employer to make you work with a fraudulent or negligent hire because they were unable to check employment, criminal background and education.

Speaking of the importance of accuracy in your resume and application, here is a great example of why it’s important for candidates to accurately and truthfully represent their employment and education history: the story of George O’Leary, former Head Football Coach for the University of Notre Dame.  In 2001, O’Leary was hired by Notre Dame to lead their renowned football program, and a few newspapers decided to write feature articles about him and his background.  During the information gathering process, a reporter discovered that O’Leary had “padded” his resume for a number of years with exaggerated claims of extra-curricular accomplishments and awards.  Although O’Leary apologized and came clean when the scandal broke, when Notre Dame administrators asked him if there were any other “discrepancies” in his resume and background, he confessed that he had also falsified his claim of a Masters Degree, and fabricated the name of the university that he matriculated from.  Needless to say, Notre Dame and O’Leary parted ways immediately.  You can read about the story in detail here, from the New York Times.

Government Compliance / Affirmative Action

You may have heard about Affirmative Action and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)?  How about the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)?  Well,  if not, or you’re not sure what they are, you’re not alone. However, I bet you do remember all those personal, gender, ethnic, military and disability questions you’re always asked during the online application process.  Those questions must be asked by the employer (but are not required to be answered by the applicant – you can decline to disclose information) to comply with a host of federal employment regulations.  ESPECIALLY if they are government contractors, meaning they provide goods or services to the government at a value that is worth $50,000 and they have 50 or more employees.  This is to ensure that the government and the business providing goods and services in exchange for tax payer dollars is not behaving in a discriminatory fashion towards its applicants and employee to gain undue advantage or profit through the contract.  The government has kindly given all businesses who fit this profile rule and regulations (and VERY specific forms) to collect and report this data to ensure full compliance and of course the continuation of the contract of work.

So, what this bottom line means for you?  The prospective employer MUST attempt to gather this information from you, the candidate, to prove that they are not discriminatory practitioners and that they are playing by the rules.  All that to keep their $50,000+ in contracts with the government.  And believe me, providing goods and services to the government is GOOD BUSINESS.  So if you want a job with a strong business that has lots of money (some of it funded by taxpayer dollars), then you have to fill out that online application manually as well as upload your resume.

All in all, it’s really about protecting you, as an employee of the company looking to hire (you don’t want to work with people who don’t have the right certifications or credentials, let alone a violent criminal!) and to protect you as an applicant and employee from undue discrimination or unfair hiring practices.  Yes, it’s frustrating, especially when you’re eager and excited to get on with applying for a job, but this feature is there to protect you, in more than just one way.

If you’re unsure about how best to highlight and position yourself in your resume, cover letter or online profile/biography without crossing the line of “exaggeration” like Mr. O’Leary – send me your cover letter, resume or link to your profile and get a FREE review and personalized feedback on how to properly emphasize yourself without crossing the line.  If you’re interested in resume, cover letter, online profile or other employment search services, come visit me on my website.


~ Jessica