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Yes, Your Startup Needs an Employment Application. Here's Why

By Christopher Coble, Esq. on January 22, 2016 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

You're small. You're just getting started. You may not even have many resources, let alone an entire human resources department. So you're probably thinking you can keep any hiring pretty informal. No need for tedious forms, checked boxes, and extra paperwork, right?

Not so much. While an employment application may seem antiquated in the days of LinkedIn, there are good legal reasons to have one, and one that suits your small business and the positions for which you're hiring. Here are a few of them.

  1. Serve Notice: An employment application can tell an applicant as much about your new business as you want to learn about them. By putting job-seekers on notice about what kind of company you are and what you expect from your staff can lead to a better candidate pool.
  2. First Filter: Along with their resume, a completed employment application is your first chance to weed potential candidates that aren't going to cut it. Make sure you keep your questions performance and behavior-based, and keep an eye out for errors or failures to complete the application.
  3. Interview Prep: Most interview time is wasted on rehashing employment history and future goals, and an employment application can take care of that up front. Also, a good application can get more answers than the standard resume provides, so you can be more prepared and more focused on the interesting parts of the interview.
  4. Create a Record: An application can require the candidate to certify that all information contained in the application is truthful. And the application can create a record of the employee's information should you ever need it later to settle any possible disputes.
  5. Trust the Process: When the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission looks into claims of hiring discrimination, they want to see that a company has a standard hiring procedure, and that procedure is followed in all cases, regardless of an applicant's gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, or disability. Having an employment application can be part of a standardized hiring procedure that protects your startup in case of a lawsuit.

To make sure your employment application complies with local, state, and federal employment statutes, contact an experienced employment law attorney near you.

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