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“Unique Identifier” on a Job Application ― Meaning & Context

“Unique Identifier” on a Job Application ― Meaning & Context

You’re filling out a job application, and you feel pretty good about how it’s going.

You have the right qualifications for the job, and you’re pretty sure you’re going to get invited for an interview.

Suddenly, you run across a phrase you’ve never heard before, and you don’t understand what it’s asking you.

How can you indicate what your “unique identifier” is if you don’t know what that means? It might feel like your job dreams are disappearing in front of your eyes!

The good news is that all of this jargon is pretty standard, and once you learn it the first time, you’ll know not to be surprised by it the next time you see it on an application.
 

What is a “unique identifier” on a job application?

Usually, “unique identifier” on a job application refers to the last four digits of your Social Security number. Sometimes, it includes your zip code. Alternately, it can mean your employee number.
 

So how do I know what numbers to put?

There are a few ways to figure out what you need to put in the space that asks for your unique identifier.

The number of spaces can be one clue.

If it is four spaces, it is probably the last four digits of your Social Security number. If there are an additional five spaces, it is probably your zip code as well.

If you are applying for an in-house position at a company you already work for, it could be the employee number if it is the right number of spaces.

Most applications should give some indication of what they are looking for.

If there are no instructions or you are in doubt about what you should write here, it’s okay to contact the company and ask.

While several big companies and recruiters ask for this unique identifier, it is not so common that it would reflect badly on you to confirm what information is needed.
 

Why do companies use unique identifiers?

Companies that ask for this information generally use a certain type of database to track applications and employees.

While a full Social Security number would be a unique identifier, most people are understandably hesitant to provide this information unless it is absolutely necessary.

The reason is that with a person’s Social Security number, it is very easy to commit identity theft.

Companies that want candidates to provide a “unique identifier” know that their candidate pool would be substantially reduced if they asked for full Social Security numbers.
 

Where on the job application are you asked for a “unique identifier”?

Not every application has this, so if you are worried that you have missed this item on other applications, you can relax!

The request for a “unique identifier” usually appears at the end of the application, at the same place where you are supposed to add your digital signature.

However, every job application is different, so you may find it on another part of the application.
 

Breaking down the meaning of “unique identifier”

This phrase is a little bit misleading.

“Unique” means there is only one of something, but there are other people who have the same last four Social Security digits as you.

Conceivably, someone could even have the same last four Social Security digits and the same zip code.

However, it is fairly unlikely that all those things would be true and that the person is also applying for the same job.

“Identifier” simply means something that identifies you, but it is not a word that is in common usage.

You would be most likely to encounter it in a context like this or in the field of computer science.