Help Wanted: Best Practices for Storing and Shredding Past Job Applications

Jun 12, 2021

How many job applications and resumes does your human resources department receive in a year? Depending on the size and type of your business, the answer may very well be hundreds. And since only a tiny percentage of applicants become employees, what do you do with the non-hire paperwork? Not knowing the best way to store and dispose of job applications could land your business in legal trouble.

Solicited vs. Unsolicited Applications

The regulations for storing solicited and unsolicited applications differ. A business is not legally obligated to store unsolicited applications and resumes. However, if your HR department prefers to keep some unsolicited resumes for future consideration, it may be best to keep them all. Consistency is an essential part of developing your own best practices for record-keeping.

Officials recommend that you retain solicited applications for up to two years. However, federal laws, union contracts, or state or local regulations may require additional time.

What Does the Law Say?

Small businesses that don’t even have an HR department might not be aware of the major federal laws that oversee employee record retention. In most cases, keeping records on current employees isn’t sufficient. More comprehensive hiring records may be required and should include:

  • Applications/resumes
  • Screening tools such as assessments
  • Background checks
  • Reference checks
  • Anything else that assisted you with making a hiring decision

It is imperative to know and understand the federal laws that regulate employee record keeping:

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964

This act requires employers to keep job applications for one year from the date of receipt.

Age Discrimination in Employment Act 

The ADEA requires employers to keep applications for one year. However, if the applicant is over 40-years old, you should retain the documents for two years.

Executive Order 11246 

This order pertains to government contractors and requires employers to keep applications for one to two years.

Americans with Disabilities Act 

The ADA requires employers to keep applications for one year if unsolicited and two years if solicited.

If a charge of discrimination or unlawful employment is brought against your organization, you must keep the employment applications until the matter is resolved. In general, it is a good practice to keep all solicited applications and resumes for two years past the date the position was filled.

Disposing of Outdated Applications

Now that you understand how long to keep applications, the next step is understanding how to dispose of them. Job applications contain sensitive information such as social security numbers and personal contact information. Simply throwing them in the trash or recycling bin puts the applicant at risk for identity theft and may put you out of compliance. Secure document shredding is the safest way to dispose of unwanted employee records.

Contact SEAM if you have employee records that require secure disposal. We can bring our mobile shredder to your North Dakota work site or take the sensitive documents to our shredding facility. Contracting with SEAM is convenient; you can schedule a one-time service or arrange for weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly shredding service.

Reach out to us today for more information.

SEAM provides IT recycling and data destruction services including onsite shredding and hard drive wiping to South Dakota, North Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, and Nebraska.

Schedule a pickup or contact us for more information.