Fill out paper applications for jobs

When applying for jobs, you might need to fill out a paper job application. You will need to list your personal information and job skills. This can be tricky because you can’t erase your answers. Learn how to fill out a paper job application.

man filling out paper applications

How to fill out a paper job application

In order to get an entry-level job, some companies will make you fill out paper applications to apply for jobs.

Paper applications are pieces of paper that ask you about your education, skills and job history. It is important to fill out paper applications correctly. Try not to make any mistakes and always tell the truth.

This is a sample job application.

Filling out paper applications can be difficult. Ask for help if you do not understand what to do or what a question is asking.

1. Practice with a sample job application

Download this sample job application and fill it out. when you click on the link, the document will open. Use the down arrow to download it.

Use this sample as an example for when you are ready to fill out a real application. Read this page to learn about all of the information you need to have ready for your job search. Keep this application so you can easily find the information you need for real applications, like the dates you worked at a company.

2. Always get two copies of the job application

If you are filling out paper applications, make sure you get at least two copies of the application. When you go to the company to pick up the job application, ask for two copies. This way, if you make a mistake, you can start over. Use a pencil when you practice but a blue or black pen for the one you take to your employer. You can also go to the library and make a copy before you start writing in the application.

3. Read the instructions on the application very well

Read the entire instructions before you begin. Take your time to write down your answers on a separate piece of paper to make sure they are correct before putting them on the paper job application. 

4. Use a pen and write very clearly

If the employer cannot read your name or phone number they will not call you for an interview. Try writing using capital letters so your answers are easy to read. Make sure to fill out all of the sections. 

5. Tell your references

If you need to list references in paper applications, tell them you are writing them down as references. References are people who have worked with you before. Tell them what job you are applying for and what skills are needed for the job. This way, if they receive a call or an email to follow up on your application, they will be prepared to answer questions about you. if you hear that someone called them about you, thank them for helping you after. 

6. Make a copy of the application for yourself before you turn it

When applying for jobs with paper applications, always keep copies. You can normally make copies for about 10 cents at your local library. Ask for help if you don’t know how to use the copy machine. Write down the name of the company, what job you applied for and when you applied. If you get called for an interview, read what you wrote down on the application before your interview.

7. Dress nicely when you bring your application to the company

Applying for jobs with paper applications requires that you mail them or bring them to your employer. Dress nicely when you bring the application to the company. For men, wear a long-sleeved shirt, dress pants, and dress shoes. For women, wear a nice dress, a skirt with a work blouse, or a suit with dress shoes. When dropping it off, be polite to everyone you meet. Remember, in American culture, it is good to smile. Smile when you arrive, and ask if the manager is available. If the manager is available, tell them you are dropping off your job application and you are very interested in the job. Smile and tell them thank you.

8. Make sure to answer your phone and check your email

The employer will look at all the applications and then select some people for an interview. Be sure to answer your phone even when you don’t recognize the number that is calling. Listen to your voicemails as soon as you can and call back quickly.  Check your email often so you don’t miss your invitation for an interview. If an employer is interested in an interview, do your best to come in at the time they ask you to. It is better not to make them re-schedule. You only should if there is an emergency. 

9. Follow up after applying for jobs

If you do not hear back within two weeks of submitting your paper application, it is okay to call or email the employer to ask about the status of your application. However, it is normal if you do not hear back, so don’t give up. Employers receive a lot of job applications for every position that is available. They don’t have time to call everyone. Continue applying for other jobs with paper applications even if you are are not able to get updates. One of them will eventually contact you for an interview.

Watch this video about how to fill out a job application.

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