Teaching Middle Schoolers About Job Applications: A Lesson Plan

Help Wanted!

Lessons on job applications can be an essential part of a middle school class. Students can benefit from knowing how to fill out required information on a job application completely and accurately. They will need to practice writing legibly and using complete sentences when necessary. Use this lesson as a guide to introduce your students to the process.

You will need:

  • Samples of completed job applications
  • Blank job applications (available for download online or for purchase at most office supply stores)
  • Copies of SELECT mnemonic
  • Yellow highlighting markers

Intro Activity

Give each student a copy of each of three sample job applications that you have already filled out. One of the applications should be missing important information, another should be messy, and the final one should be filled out correctly. Have the students take a minute or two to rank the applications from worst to best. Ask students to volunteer to explain their reasons for ranking them in the way that they did.

Whole Group Activity

Write the following mnemonic on the board:

Scan the entire application.

Emphasize important key words.

Locate specific areas that need to be filled in.

Enter the necessary information.

Check over the completed application.

Turn in to the appropriate person.

Explain that the mnemonic SELECT can be helpful for remembering the steps to filling out a job application successfully. Discuss each step briefly before passing out a copy of a sample job description to each student. Have a volunteer read the job description aloud and then elicit student responses to help you write a list of attributes the mock employer is likely seeking in a job candidate for this position.

For example, an employer seeking someone to fill an office position may place a high value on attributes like organizational skills, attention to detail, accuracy and timeliness. A position in the child care field may require enthusiasm, patience, creativity and reliability. Discuss the importance of learning how to determine how past work and volunteer experiences can relate to potential job descriptions. Have the students help to come up with a list of action verbs to use when describing work experiences. Post these verbs on the board.

Small Group Activity

Teach middle schoolers how to fill out job applications.

Divide the class into groups of four, and instruct each group to create a list of mock experiences that would most directly relate to the sample job description on the board. Encourage the students to come up with as many separate experiences as they can within a set time limit of about 10 minutes. The students should use action verbs as they come up with sample work and volunteer experiences.

Once the time limit is up, or all the groups have come up with at least five experiences, call the students back to attention. Allow each group to present their ideas to the rest of the class, and discuss specific techniques for relaying information on a job application. Often times, job applications do not allow much space for writing and students will have to learn how to use as few words as possible to get their points across. Many employers scan applications quickly and appreciate clear and concise information on an application.

Individual Activity

You can allow students to remain in their groups, but let them know that they will be filling out sample job applications individually. Decide on the "job" students will be applying for and post a brief job description on the board. Possible job ideas include office assistant, camp counselor and cashier.

Give each student two blank copies of the job application, just in case they make a lot of mistakes, and a copy of the SELECT mnemonic. Instruct them to use the mnemonic, as well as ideas that they came up with in their groups, to fill out the application as completely and as neatly as possible. They can use highlighters to highlight keywords like Name, Address, Work History and Education, that cue them in as to where to write required information. Remind them of the importance of completing all fields, using non-applicable, or n/a, for areas that may not pertain to them. Have students turn their completed applications in to you at the end of the class session, for evaluation/assessment.

Extension Activities

Lessons on job applications can help your students to develop skills that they will need later in life.


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