I've applied for a number of jobs and application forms have ranged from brilliant PDF forms to ones crudely made in Word with very little thought for spacing.

I've considered making my own application form that contains all the information asked for in typical application forms, but I wondered would this be acceptable or considered a little strange?

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    I suspect that you would hear "that is great but I am going to need you to fill out our practically identical application. And then I am going to need you to come in on Sunday... Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 19:39
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    A truely Machiavellian organisation seeking radical and innovatve thinkers might design an impossible form or online process as part of the screening process, to see how people respond. If that was their standard approach to fairly normal management problems, it would be an "interesting" place to work though...
    – GuyM
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 20:05
  • Are you talking about creating a business that would sell software to help companies track applicants through the structure you are building, creating your own system that could output an application in various formats that you'd use for personal purposes, or something else? There is way more than one interpretation to your question, IMO.
    – JB King
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 20:27
  • I mean merely taking the content from the original application form and formatting it better on a new document.
    – tombull89
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 21:10
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    Ummm...how can I phrase this? Don't. It's not your form. If you want to offer critiques and suggestions AFTER you fill out their form, please feel free to do so. They're just going to ask you nicely to transfer your information to their form, and then, possibly, give you a perfunctory interview, just to satisfy their curiosity to see what kind of person brings their own application form to a professional interview.
    – Neil T.
    Commented Dec 7, 2012 at 9:13

4 Answers 4


Unless the job you are applying for would involve designing the company's application form, I would strongly advise against creating your own form. Even then, using your own form would be risky but at least there would be some potential upside.

There is a benefit to uniformity. Even if you find the form ugly, if a hiring manager (or HR) is trying to go through dozens or hundreds of applications for a particular position, they know exactly where different pieces of information are on their form. If you use a different form, the manager now has to figure out where that information exists on your application. If someone is looking for a way to narrow the field of applicants to a more manageable number, throwing out applicants that filled out the wrong form is a pretty easy decision to make.

Using your own application form will also tend to signal to the employer that you're unwilling to conform to practices that you don't agree with. Every company has policies that individual employees find silly or pointless or poorly designed or inelegant in some way. That doesn't mean that individual employees can opt of of using those systems. There is a good chance that a hiring manager would suspect that someone that felt they had to design their own application form would also find a need to do things on the job in their own way which would likely end up creating more work for the manager.

And what advantage would you gain by having your own form? Sure, if part of your job would be to own the application form or even to design paper forms for other processes, the hiring manager might give you bonus points for submitting a well-designed form as part of your application. But for 99.9% of the jobs out there, submitting a custom application form isn't going to be an advantage.


It would not be acceptable, all places of employment are looking for one thing in an employee. Someone who follows instructions. If you make your own application it's not following instructions, it's saying you are going to do your own thing. Many larger business have those forms in a specific way for a specific reason. I'm required to use a company wide form when taking applicants, and I'd be sited for non compliance if I failed to do so.

They are going to: - Look at you funny - Ask you to fill out one of their applications. - Laugh about you after you walk out the door and toss the one you made in the trash.

If you want to customize something you should make your resume shine, or get a haircut and give a fresh shave. Just fill out what they ask on the application. It's all about the first impression, "Looks the part, followed instructions, was on time, was polite" that's what you're hoping to come across as.

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    +1 - and what every you do don't forget the cover sheet on the TPS report. Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 19:58
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    ANd they may have either software to read teh form in which case it must be the same or they are manually entering the data into their systems in which case the data entry people will get confused and make mistakes. This is a lose-lose situation for the applicant.
    – HLGEM
    Commented Dec 5, 2012 at 20:44

We have a standard application form online that covers key information that we need to know - things like driving licence, nationality and work visa status - as they can impact on the role. People can then either fill in a form for the remaining details, or upload a CV,

Many firms use standard forms as a way of simplifying the administration of the application process, and to create a level playing field.

I would never ignore a form provided, of for that matter any application instructions relating to the CV/resume length, detail and/or cover letter.

In our case, if the online submission is not managed properly, you are rejected automatically by the system. I can scan reject applications, but realistically its unlikely unless I'm unabel to create a shortlist from the applicants I have.

In some industries, especially the creative ones like advertising, a CV that simulated an application form (good or bad) could create a stand-out point of difference between your application and others. It would need to be undertaken with significant style and flair, however, or it could easily misfire.


A crude application form is not a bad application form.

It may be hard and confusing to fill in, so it's bad for you.

But it not the purpose of the form to be easy to fill in.
The purpose it to ensure consistenyc and structure of the data they get. That's why they ask to fill in a form in the first place.

Looking from this perspective, which is the best form to provide consistency with the existing databases, documents and processes?
Right, the one they used before.

So, in some objective way, the form they use is the best that could exist. That starts to sound a little less weird if you think about a form that is so bad that it even distorts the data they get. They all know that and got used to it. Using a "better" form would mean they now have two kinds of data sets, which need different interpretation.

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