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“Not indicated” — Here’s What It Means on a Job Application

“Not indicated” — Here’s What It Means on a Job Application

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Employers ask for a great deal of information about potential employees.

This is particularly true when the application involves a standardized form that involves ticking boxes and filling in blanks. 

While you are probably happy to provide answers to most of the questions asked of you, there might be certain questions you don’t want to respond to.

Whatever your reasons for preferring not to disclose information, you are entitled to your privacy. 

If an application asks you to write down something that you don’t feel comfortable sharing, you have several options, including saying, “not indicated.”

This article will explain what “not indicated” means on a job application as well as other ways to respond professionally to questions that you don’t want to answer. 


What does “not indicated” mean on a job application

“Not indicated” means the same thing as “no answer provided.” It is usually a multiple-choice answer option to a standardized question about education, work experience, or demographic information. You can respond “not indicated” to questions you prefer to not to answer on job applications. 


When to answer “not indicated” on a job application

Are you curious what “not indicated” means because you’ve seen it on a job application and aren’t sure whether it applies to you? If so, there’s no need to think too much about it. 

If it’s a multiple-choice answer option to a question that you are happy to tick another box for, don’t pay it any mind. 

For example, if you are filling out a job application form and come across the question, “How many years of experience do you have in the field?” one of the answers offered might be “not indicated.” 

If you have 3–4 years’ experience, however, you don’t need to think twice about this option.

You can simply check the appropriate box that reflects your years of experience in the industry. 

Are considering checking or writing in “not indicated” in response to a question, but aren’t sure whether you are using these two words appropriately?

If so, ask yourself whether one of the following reasons describes your situation. 


When you don’t know the answer 

If an application asks you for information and you actually don’t know the answer, you might respond with “not indicated.” 

For example, if a job application asks you whether you have security clearance and you are wondering what security clearance means on a job application, you can say, “not indicated.”

Alternatively, you might use it if you know what security clearance is but are unsure about whether yours is still active. 

This usage might also be appropriate for other kinds of training and accreditations that you know you’ve completed but aren’t sure are still current.

For example, you might not be sure whether your First Aid Certificate is in date. 

If you can investigate the matter before responding, do! But if you are being asked to fill out a form on the spot, or just have no way of accessing the information you are being asked for, then “not indicated” is a perfectly appropriate response. 


When there is no clear answer to the question 

Standard job application forms make it easy for employers to get the information they need about candidates in a straightforward and hassle-free way.

That said, our lives do not fit into neat boxes.

There will always be times when we’re asked a question that we can’t answer simply by ticking a box or writing down a number. 

Especially for anyone who has lived in different countries or has moved around between states a lot, bureaucratic and administrative questions can be anything but straightforward. 

For example, If your university degree isn’t offered as a possible response on an auto-fill application, you might be wondering what to write for course of study on a job application. Your best bet is probably “not indicated” or an equivalent response. 

If you are asked questions about your address or your legal residence and are currently between places, you’ll be in a similar situation.

Even if you wanted to explain, you might not be offered the space to give anything more than an auto-fill response. 

If you’re genuinely wondering what to write for “place of residence” on a job application because your life isn’t settled right now, “not indicated” is a perfectly appropriate answer.


When none of the other options are appropriate

As anyone who has ever taken a standardized test knows, some people and institutions are better than others at writing multiple choice questions. 

Multiple choice questions and answers follow a generic format, by definition. However, there are ways of writing them that are less prescriptive and more open-ended. These give responders greater flexibility. 

If you would actually be happy to share the information you’re being requested to provide, but there is no option that fits your circumstances, you might have to check “not indicated.”  

For example, what should you say if a job application asks for your MVR information and you don’t have a US driving license?

Perhaps you have just moved and are still in the process of getting your driving license from your home country recognized by the DMV. 

There might not be a multiple-choice or auto-fill option that quickly summarizes your situation.

As a result, it’s best to say, “not indicated” and clarify the matter with the hiring department by sending them an email after you submit your application.  


When you don’t want to share information 

What you share with a potential employer is your business. 

One of the most common places the answer “not indicated” shows up on job applications is in surveys about equal employment opportunity.

These parts of a form are generally anonymized, for data-gathering purposes only, and have no bearing on the outcome of your application. 

That said, if you don’t feel comfortable answering questions about your gender, nationality, additional needs, religion, or ethnicity, you don’t have to! Instead, just opt for the little “not indicated” box. No harm done!


When you would prefer to discuss the matter in person 

Is there is something about your employment or education history that you think might reflect poorly on you unless you can discuss it face-to-face?

If so, you might just abstain from answering a question about it on a job application and wait to mention it until you are sitting in front of an interviewer. 


Is it bad to answer “not indicated” on a job application?

If, for one of the reasons mentioned above, you’re tempted to answer “not indicated” on a job application but are worried it will look like you’re being cagey, don’t worry. 

Look, there’s no point denying the fact that employers would like it if all their candidates just filled out the application form in the most straightforward way.

This would save them time, if nothing else. 

That said, the option to respond, “not indicated” (or some equivalent) exists for a reason.

Employers understand that life isn’t a tick-box affair. Any hiring manager worth their salt is also aware that the best candidates sometimes come in the least conventional packages. 

The single-minded, done-everything-right candidates have generally had to face far fewer challenges than their more “scattered” peers.

This can often make the stereotypical, fits-the-form applicants less resilient and adaptable. 

Successful employers know to look beyond the piece of paper in front of them and see the potential of the person behind it. 


Other ways to say “not indicated” on a job application

If you encounter any of these options on as possible responses on a job application, you can assume they mean roughly the same thing as “not indicated.” 

You can also always fill in a blank space on a job application with one of these responses. 

That said, each of these has a slightly different meaning, so have a quick read through to see what the nuanced meaning of each of these responses is. 


Prefer not to say

This option is basically “not indicated” …except phrased in far clearer way. If you don’t want to answer a question because the information being requested feels private, this is a perfect response to give on a job application. 



This is the most common multiple-choice answer option for a question whose proposed answers don’t fit your situation. 

If the job application that you are filling out asks for information about your education and you attended school in a different country, you might have to answer “other.” The options provided may not describe the education system you were taught in, which makes “other” a perfect response. 

If you’re going to respond “other” to a question, make sure you give the hiring committee the opportunity to contact you to find out what “other” means. 

Providing your phone extension on a job application ensures that employers can get in touch with you with any follow-up questions they might have about your application. 


Not applicable 

“Not applicable” has a slightly different meaning to “not indicated.” Essentially, “not applicable” conveys that something is “not indicated because it isn’t relevant.” 

For example, if you’re wondering what to write for “unique identifier” on a job application, but you don’t have a unique identifier, you can write “not applicable.” 


Not specified

“Not specified” means pretty much exactly the same thing as “not indicated.” Feel free to use them interchangeably. 



This response is only appropriate if you actually don’t know the answer to the question a job application is asking. 

If you do know the answer, but the answer is just a bit complicated, write “not specified” rather than “unknown.” 

If your employer realizes you do know, or if it would essentially be impossible for you not to know the answer to the question, they might think you’re being dishonest. 



This is another way of saying, “not specified.” You can use the two terms interchangeably. 



If the application you are filling out includes questions that you can either answer or not, you may be presented with the option of responding “abstain.” 

Basically, this just means “I choose not to answer.” 


No answer given

This is exactly what it sounds like. You are not giving an answer. 

Where possible, however, try to avoid this answer, because it has a negative undertone that won’t look good to a hiring manager. 



Unstipulated is just another way of saying “unspecified.” You can use it in essentially the same way. 



Some job applications require you to respond to questions with the options yes, no, or uncertain. 

For example, they might present you with a questionnaire about how you would conduct yourself in certain workplace situations so that they can assess your compatibility with company values. 

In this context, uncertain means “I’m not sure.”



This might be used in the same way as “uncertain” on a job application that includes a questionnaire assessing candidates’ temperaments, preferences, or values.