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Working Wise: Job Application Tips

Dear Working Wise,

My teenage son is looking for his first job. He is about to start applying at nearby stores so we don’t have to worry about transportation. Do you have any tips for him?
Signed, Proud Parent

April 13, 2016

Dear Proud,

A part-time job is a great way for your teen to make extra money and start developing employability skills, like punctuality and time management, which will serve him well for the rest of his life.

Since many retail businesses use job application forms, here are some tips for filling out those applications:

  1. Bring all of the information you will need to complete the application, including your social insurance number, address and postal code, list of past employers, positions, volunteer roles, schools and training programs, start/end dates, and 3 job reference names with phone numbers.
  2. Bring your resumé—the employer may accept the resumé along with the application form.
  3. Ask for 2 applications in case you make a mess of the first one.
  4. If possible, take the application home to give yourself more time, a more comfortable environment, and access to all the information you will need to complete the application.
  5. Use an erasable pen.
  6. Follow the instructions carefully.
  7. Print neatly and clearly.
  8. If a question does not apply to you, write Not Applicable or N/A.
  9. Be specific about the type of work you are interested in.
  10. Do not answer application questions by referring the reader to your resumé.
  11. List your most recent work experience first, followed by older experiences. Be sure to include any awards or positive results that you achieved.
  12. If you do not have any work experience, try to find an opportunity to talk about the useful/relevant skills and experiences that you have gained through your volunteer and extra-curricular activities.
  13. List your most relevant education and training, including dates you attended the programs, the names of the schools, and any certificates you earned.
  14. Don’t forget to include short-term training courses, special awards and memberships that you have held or hold if they relate to the job in any way.
  15. If asked to name a wage expectation, give a range or say that you are open to negotiation. You can check the Wages and Salaries section on OCCinfo for salary ranges of more than 500 occupations based on the Alberta Wage and Salary Survey.
  16. Use the "Additional Comments" section to highlight any achievements you haven’t already touched on plus any skills or strengths that relate to the position.
  17. Double check the form for spelling, accuracy, and neatness, before you submit it. The overall appearance of your application makes an impression.

If you do not have a resumé:

Good luck!

Photo Credit: © iStockphoto/barsik

Working Wise is a syndicated newspaper column prepared by the Government of Alberta to answer work-related questions from Albertans. Do you have a work-related question? You can send it to Charles Strachey (charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca), a manager with Alberta Community and Social Services.

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