Job Applications: What you DON’T need to enter online

Patricia Parnet
7 min readApr 11, 2024
An unusual question mark with lighting and a dark background.
Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

…at least not at the beginning. Desired salary? ZIP code? Companies are often very curious, but your data belongs to you! Find out how you can skip these fields on your application or answer them later. Views are my own.

Intentionally skipping information, even entire fields, at the beginning of the application process sounds a bit strange at first. Not really beneficial, right?

But the opposite is true: the following tips provide you with a clear structure, especially for sensitive topics such as salary expectations and personal details. It’s time to say goodbye to surprises in the application form, where applicants make hasty decisions under great time pressure, for example by providing impulsive salary details. Instead, application processes should be designed in such a way that everyone gets a fair chance to answer everything carefully, bit by bit, in order to show their full potential. Everybody wins!

Salary expectations: Do mandatory fields like this make you feel stressed?

Address & place of residence when applying

Unlike common belief, your home address is usually NOT relevant for the first screening and should therefore not appear in the CV or the initial application form!

This archaic practice dates back to the days when applications were sent by mail and an address was simply required for correspondence. By the way: Find out in these 5 Resumé Myths which information you can leave out of your CV. Although technology has evolved, the address field is still present in many online application forms just for historical reasons. Some recruiters (or amateur detectives?) still find this information very interesting. But objectively speaking, it offers no added value, apart from a few exceptions such as in the public sector. Similarly, in an international VIE program from Dior, Airbus and many other companies, where you will inevitably change countries, you don’t need to worry about this field.

From a strategic point of view, such an input field in the application process can even become counterproductive, as the process becomes unnecessarily complicated. This increases the drop-out rate and suitable applicants may be filtered out because of a minor detail. This has little to do with fairness and diversity, let alone data protection. What has happened to the principle of data minimization? Companies are long overdue to rethink their application processes and ensure that they are fair and efficient in order to attract the best talent and avoid discrimination. After all, reducing the amount of data records that need to be scanned and managed is good for business too.

When submitting applications, you should only share your address details and place of residence when it is really relevant — usually when it comes to signing a contract. This will minimize the following risks and possibly increase your chances:

  • 🏕️ Local Bias: Sometimes potential employers can be distracted by your location, with negative consequences. This is especially true if you live very far away and there is a suspicion that you are not ready to move. Sometimes they will come to their own conclusion and not even check with you. In the worst case, local applications may be preferred even though you would be a suitable candidate.
  • 🔎 Privacy: Google Maps allows anyone to look up where you live. But why should they even care? Right, in the initial screening, i.e. long before the contract is drawn up, it’s absolutely none of their business — apart from rare exceptions! Let’s be honest: it would be really strange if everyone involved knew your address while you were never shortlisted for the job!

If I leave out the address at the beginning, do I have a disadvantage or lower chances? This is not really the case with reputable companies. They will ask for further information and your address in a very friendly manner at the appropriate time. Some even have forms specifically for entering your address, as they don’t ask for it from the start anyway, which saves manual work. So you don’t need to worry that important data can no longer be transmitted after the application. Many application tools are structured in such a way that you can add and update your information yourself at any time. And even independently of active job applications. An advantage for both sides: Applicants have control over their data and the HR department always receives the most up-to-date information. A move would therefore not be a problem here either!

Mandatory field? Write this:

You can bypass mandatory fields as follows, as it is your right to keep this information to yourself for the moment:

  • Street — Option 1: I will be happy to share this in the course of the process (or similar)
  • Street — Option 2: Dash or dot (does not always work)
  • Zip code: 00000 or one that doesn’t exist like 99999
  • City: Dash or dot (does not always work)
Three empty address fields in an application form.
Don’t worry, it’s no problem to leave optional fields blank.

Salary expectations in the application

How are you supposed to give realistic salary expectations in a tiny field if you don’t know the benefits, the working hours (weekly hours etc.), the working model, the exact tasks and many other details at all or only very vaguely? Then it’s more like an unfair guessing game…

Be patient and wait for an invitation to an interview. After all, there is no point in worrying about salaries if you might not even get an interview. Instead, use this time effectively by sending off more applications. For example, you can read Tips for Job Hunting Abroad and find a job overseas.

Companies should first explain all the details of the role and culture to you before you reveal your salary expectations. This includes answering all your questions to enable an honest assessment. Additionally, more and more companies are providing detailed brochures on benefits. You can then better assess what compensation is appropriate and ultimately make an informed decision compared to a flat input field in an anonymous application form. Even if it sometimes takes a long time: wait until an interview invitation reaches you and then negotiate consciously on the basis of all the facts. After all, you don’t want to accidentally disqualify yourself just because you ranked yourself too low or too high. If you are curious in advance, you can of course do some research on Glassdoor.

In a perfect world, companies would simply publish honest salary ranges for each position. Fortunately, this approach, which is already widespread in the USA, will become mandatory in the EU from 2026. Currently, this kind of information is rarely displayed on European job portals. At least a few Job Boards for Expats in Germany believe in this trend. It’s time for this to change — finally!

Mandatory field? Write this:

All fields that are not mandatory can be left blank if you wish. You can avoid mandatory fields as described below, because it is your right to request essential information from the company first:

  • Text option 1: Happy to discuss this during the interview, considering your benefits and other factors (or similar)
  • Free text option 1: Dash or dot (does not always work)
  • Numbers: Astronomically high value like 9999999999, possibly also 1e (companies then know that this is not your real salary request and can discuss it with you in the interview)
You can initially enter a placeholder for salary details.

Of course you can adapt and shorten all texts. In the end, please enter what you feel comfortable with.

Even though more and more companies are upgrading their candidate experience and therefore also their application forms, it will still take some time before user-friendly standards are established everywhere. We will therefore continue to struggle with cluttered forms for the time being. Until then, hopefully these tips and tricks will help you navigate the process. Perhaps you can even draw attention to this issue by skipping a field or filling it in in a data-saving way and stand out from the crowd? Whatever you decide, I wish you the best of luck and success with your next application!

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