How long should I keep resumes or applications?

posted in: HR Advice | 366

By Melissa Walker

Business owners can find themselves bombarded with paperwork, and much of that paperwork can pertain to personnel or employment records including applications and resumes from individuals who interviewed for a position and weren’t hired.

Can these things be tossed? The answer is eventually.

A business owner should instruct the company’s human resources department or management team to keep resumes and applications, along with any other materials used for the hiring process that may include reference and background checks, according to PEOPLE, a professional employer solutions company that helps companies with areas that include human resources.

The Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Civil Rights Act of 1964 all require application materials be kept for at least one year. However, if the applicant is older than 40, keep the materials for at least two years, according to language in the age discrimination act.

This is to protect the business owner from possible complaints of discrimination in the hiring process, and those applications could come in handy for a future opening, according to PEOPLE.

Case in point: The U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission filed a lawsuit against Coca Cola that claimed the company violated federal laws for not hiring a female applicant. The lawsuit alleged sex discrimination because a female applicant was not hired for two separate warehouse positions even though she had all of the warehouse and forklift qualifications. The positions were given to two male applicants who were both less qualified. Coca Cola also violated federal record keeping laws because it did not preserve the applications for the warehouse positions.

Even if an employee has been terminated, his or her records must be kept for one year from the date of termination. These requirements apply to any employer who is covered by federal anti-discrimination laws. If a discrimination charge is brought against the employer, the records must be kept during the duration of the charge until the matter reaches a resolution.

Strategic HR Inc., a human resources outsourcing company, says employers also need to consider any contractual obligations they may have with union employees when it comes to maintaining personnel records and applications.

Several HR companies advise business owners to keep a separate filing cabinet for applications and other information from applicants who were not hired for positions, so it is separate from the personnel documents of current employees. If a candidate is rejected, include that reason in the file and add it to the documentation.

For those companies that receive hundreds or even thousands of resumes, human resources and business professional training website HR Hero advises companies to use an online job board or software system that analyzes resumes for keywords and phrases that can help screen the large volume of applicants and then store the applications of those who weren’t selected electronically. Other documents that need to be stored can be scanned and secured electronically.♦


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