Useful Employment Application Guidelines
Whether the positions an organization is seeking to fill are temporary or permanent, it is important for Human Resources representatives to reflect on the content included in their organization’s employment application(s) to determine if the content is within the scope of fair hiring practices. In this blog, I’ll identify a few employment application audit ideas to help you determine whether you need to eliminate or rephrase any questions that could lead to discriminatory hiring practices. Please note: ExactHire does not provide legal counsel. If you are in doubt about the compliance of your employment application, please speak with your organization’s legal team.
Background Check Guidance
Many companies complete background checks on the individuals who have been offered employment. For a background check to be completed accurately, the social security number and date of birth are necessary to properly identify the individual. However, an individual’s social security number and date of birth should NOT be included in the application in any format; this highly sensitive information can be collected from the individual at the time of background check consent. If a minimum age is necessary for employment in a particular position, an organization may ask if the applicant is 16, 18, 21 or older (or whatever the legal requirement may be for that position type). No questions regarding the years of attendance should be asked on an application or in an interview.
Avoid Questions Related to Religion
Religious affiliation is one element that should not be asked or discussed in the hiring process. Even though many religious organizations have events and practices which occur regularly throughout the year, for certain religions, there are increased numbers of worship activities in the winter season. An employer can specify the hours/days/shifts for the vacant position but also include that the employer provides reasonable accommodations for religious practices that do not pose an undue hardship towards the employer.
Language Fluency and Employment Applications
Another component that needs careful phrasing within an employment application involves any questions related to language(s) spoken. If relevant to the position for which the applicant is applying, an employer can ask about language(s) spoken, read or written. If speaking, reading or writing another language(s) are irrelevant skills for the position, there is no need to ask for that information so it is best to omit that question. One of the many features of ExactHire’s HireCentric applicant tracking system is that you may create groups of job specific screening questions where an organization can ask applicants questions focused and relevant to the particular position.
Asking About Prior Military Experience
Military veterans offer a tremendous amount of knowledge and skill that can provide long-term benefits to your organization. These brave men and women are seeking to use their skills to enhance an organization’s growth, and if you are looking to start a veteran-focused hiring initiative within your organization, the Department of Labor is ready to help. Organizations can benefit directly in the social and interpersonal capacity, along with the financial capacity, when veterans are on the organization’s payroll. On an employment application, an employer can ask if an individual was in the military but dates and type of discharge should not be asked. An applicant should include the training and skills acquired through the military as professional experience.
Restrictions on Applicant Criminal History Information
With the Ban the Box movement, many cities and states have enacted some form of legislation that affects how and when an employer can ask an applicant any questions related to convictions. The following states listed below have enacted both public and private sector Ban the Box legislation which means an applicant typically cannot be asked about convictions on an employment application or prior to the interview stage of the hiring process.
- Rhode Island
- New Jersey
- Connecticut (Effective January 2017)
- Vermont (Effective July 2017)
There are exceptions within the legislation that may allow an employer to ask an applicant about convictions early in the hiring process so please consult your organization’s legal team to see if you qualify. To keep abreast of the Ban the Box movement, visit the National Employment Law Project (NELP).
Professional Organization Membership
Many employers view membership in professional organizations as beneficial to the growth of an individual. It is important to encourage individuals to pursue lifelong learning opportunities; however, these opportunities should not negatively impact an applicant’s pursuit of employment. On an employment application and during the interview process, it is important for an employer to seek only job-related memberships and service and avoid asking anything about memberships that could reflect ethnicity, gender, religion and other protected information.
Test Your Own Employment Application
Organizations periodically need to take a moment to reflect on the content of their current employment application(s) and peruse it from a potential applicant’s eyes. We encourage our clients to periodically test their employment applications so they can determine if any changes need to be made. Changes to the content of your HireCentric ATS employment application(s) must be made by a member of the ExactHire Support Team.
ExactHire: At Your Service
At ExactHire, we take pride in doing our best to ensure our clients’ satisfaction. After you speak with your legal counsel, and if you and your legal team decide changes need to be made to your employment application(s) for compliance, the ExactHire team will work with you to create a new application with the verbiage you specify. Also, one of the benefits of using ExactHire’s HireCentric software as your applicant tracking system is that you can create multiple employment applications, each specific to your needs or hiring practices within a particular state. If you are an existing client looking for more information about updating your current employment application(s) and/or creating additional employment applications, please email firstname.lastname@example.org, and let us know your needs.