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Most online applications specifically require a street address for residence. I have always been careful about my personal information, and I do not see why it is necessary to ask for my street address. Keeping it private is safer, but it also reduces a 'travel distance bias' a screener might have.
There are many other situations where a job seeker may not have a permanent street address. I would prefer to list my PO Box instead on the 'street address' box, but do not want it rejected for not following instructions.
Why do potential employers want the applicants (street address) residence?

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  • Do the applications not allow a PO box address? I've always thought those were interchangeable when entering an address (unless they're intending to use a non-postal delivery service.) Mar 21 '16 at 16:17
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I need a mailing address so that if you leave the company I can mail you various forms I have a legal obligation to give you. These include tax forms and something called a Record of Employment that is relevant for unemployment insurance. I don't have an application form, but I do ask for this information after a person is hired and I ask them to keep it current.

I don't care where you live, I just need to be able to send you stuff. However, since I am human, I may wonder about a long commute and ask you if you're sure you're ok with it. I did interview someone who told me they really hadn't realized how far away we were until that moment, and wasn't ok with it or willing to move.

Now, I understand not all employers are me. The ones demanding this may be using it to hire only those who won't have moving expenses, only those with short commutes, or only those from certain backgrounds. I doubt anyone checks you live at the address on your application. In fact many places probably have it out of no more than habit and never use it at all.

If this is a real issue in your life, look into a mail drop with a an address that doesn't include "PO Box". They are typically for microbusinesses - they use Suite 102 to mean Mailbox 102 but you could put Apt 102 and I'm sure it would work. Online forms can mean huge volume of applications, and dropping you for a PO Box is super easy to do.

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  • this answer only applies only if you are an employee Jan 16 '20 at 23:25
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    @Neuromancer as opposed to what, someone signing up for online dating? This is the workplace and the question specifies that employers are asking. Jan 17 '20 at 0:04
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    @KateGregory: Presumably as opposed to a job seeker.
    – MSalters
    Jan 17 '20 at 7:47
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It's so they know how close you are to the place of work

I would suggest it's so they can work out your geographic closeness to the business. Although there is a lot of "noise" about remote working and work from home, the vast majority of employers want staff who are within an hour /hour and a half commutable distance. The main reason being is that your "fresh" in the morning and if there is an emergency work problem, they know roughly how long it will take you to get in.

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    Yes and No. As a hiring manager it's more about sustainability. You may make the effort of a long commute when the job is new and fresh, but odds are when you get past that, and into say a long hard winter, the worry is they will start to find it too much. Mar 20 '16 at 11:30
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In short, because they can ask, because it has always been that way, and because everyone else does it.

Originally, this was needed before the popularity of internet when official communications were sent via mail. This is so they can send interview schedules and offers.

In modern times, no one needs it for an applicant. The reason that it is still there is because there has been no demand to change the process. Hiring managers do not have the time; HR figures more data the better and why break something that still works; HRIS needs to making hiring process busy and complex to sell the need to HR departments.

Companies are hoarders like people. Companies believe they can re-use the information for future sourcing. In reality, they never do. It is easier for them to post onto a job board and get all fresh data. With the lack of demand from applicants to demand this change, there is no reason for companies to stop this practice.

Address may eventually be needed for background check, official job offer, etc. This can always be requested later. Most companies use third-party so in most cases, the applicant has to provide the address again anyways. Also when you join the company, you will likely have to provide the address yet again for tax purposes.

Do they need it? No. Does it hurt to ask it? No. Applicants can change it, but that will unlikely happen as time has shown.

I understand this is an old post. Since it came up first on my search, I hope this may help.

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  • My intention was to say that they can, but they really do not need to, gave a little history on how it came about that way, and why it hasn't changed. The paragraph about it needing for background check was more towards the post that HR needs it later. There I was saying that it was moot because most companies asks for the address again for other forms as "re-verification" which reinforces the argument that there is almost no reason to ask for it on the application. Locality is still important for many companies but I don't believe commute distance correlates with quality work. Feb 11 '20 at 6:43

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