Candidates can now submit their resumes to an open position with a few taps on their smartphones. While this allows recruiters to cast a wider net for candidates, the sheer volume of applicants can also be overwhelming.
Any given job posting receives about 250 applicants, research from Glassdoor found. For small recruiting teams, that’s a lot of applications to go through, and an applicant tracking system is essential for keeping them organized.
So what about after the job is filled? Although it can be tempting to hit delete after a role is filled, there are good reasons to hang on to them. Here's what you need to know.
Complying with the Law
Some employers are surprised to find that Federal laws, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, require them to retain job applications for a set period of time. Government contractors are subject to their own, more specific rules.
“Under Federal law, you have record keeping obligations related to your hiring and anti-discrimination laws,” says Peter Cassat, a partner at Culhane Meadows, PLLC. If you ever face a hiring discrimination dispute, those resumes are used as evidence.That means keeping them on-hand is essential for both legal compliance and your own protection.
“Storing resumes for one year is the absolute minimum,” says Robin Throckmorton, president of strategic HR inc. To be safe, best practices dictate storing resumes for two years, Throckmorton says. If you add notes to an applicant's resume or file, be sure those notes are strictly job-related and not indicative in any way of that applicant’s appearance or other factors. “Hiring managers take notes to help them remember candidates, but it could appear to be discriminatory,” Throckmorton cautions.
Establishing Systems for Secure Data Storage
Privacy should always be a concern when you're storing people’s private information, including job applications.
Consider security from multiple angles. “When storing personal information, you should implement physical, administrative and technological safeguards to prevent unauthorized access or disclosure,” Cassat says.
An ATS lives on a secure server, making it the ideal way to store applications. Additionally, since your ATS is password protected, access can be limited to only the people who need it, when they need it. In the event of a dispute, resumes can be drawn up with a click.
Keeping in Touch
As you fill jobs, you’ll often have to turn down people that you’d like to stay in touch with for future openings. You’ll want to make it as easy as possible to maintain that connection until the next opening comes along.
Those resumes should become part of your talent pool, the group of that you have already identified as potentially a great fit.
“You never know when you may want to go back to a candidate you consider for a future role,” Throckmorton says. “Maybe the candidate you selected doesn't work out or maybe you have another position open up that could be a better fit — storing resumes along with job-related notes about the candidate will be a great resource for your needs in the future.”
Your ATS can identify where those candidates are the best fit at your organization, so when positions at those points open up, you can contact the candidates on your shortlist.
As you’re building up your talent database, it’s a good practice to let candidates know that you’re keeping copies of their resumes on file and to explain why, Cassat says. That kind of transparency can only help strengthen your employer brand.