Résumés or Applications – Do We Need Both?

Ultimately, the decision rests with the company regarding whether to accept a résumé in leiu of an application or to require both. Whatever you choose to do, be consistent; don’t allow one applicant to simply submit a résumé and then require the rest of the individuals applying for the job to submit an application.

The best practice is to require all applicants to complete an application form, regardless of whether they have already given you a résumé.

A résumé only reveals what the applicant wants to share with you. An application allows the company to collect consistent information it deems necessary, important, and relevant about each individual. This can be important if the company is in the unfortunate position of having to defend a lawsuit claiming discrimination in hiring.

If the company requires that an application be completed, they should return applications to individuals who fail to provide all pertinent information or who simply say “see résumé” and ask them to complete the job application as required.

The company may also choose to require the completion of an application and submission of a résumé. This is entirely at the discretion of the company, but the company’s requirements for applications/résumés should be consistent for everyone applying for the job.

Once you have accepted a résumé and/or application from an individual, you must keep it/them on file for a minimum of 1 year (2 years if your company is a federal contractor or subcontractor). It is generally not recommended that employers accept résumés or applications unless there is a job opening and employers should require individuals to state the specific position for which they are applying.


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