Piles of Paperwork

September 18, 2018

How long does hiring paperwork have to gather dust?

Whether it’s physical paper or electronic versions, when it comes to keeping or pitching documents, there are no easy guidelines to follow. It would be great to have a one-size-fits-all scenario! Regrettably, it is not to be. This is true of resumes and job applications as well. While there are many Federal Acts that discuss these types of documentation, the time frames are varied.


We were curious as to how veterinary clinics handled their documents, so we asked in this month’s poll. The results were diverse.

Keep the resume until we fill the position = 4.1%
Keep the resume for about 6 months = 4.1%
Keep the resume for about 1 year = 16.6%
Keep the resume for about 2 years = 8.3%
Keep the resume forever = 16.6%
Keep the resume until the file cabinet is full then do a purge = 12.5%
We don’t have a formal way of keeping track = 16.6%

From our research, we found that as an employer, you must look at the federal laws from which you are covered as well as any contractual requirements you may have (i.e., union contracts).1

U.S. federal legal retention requirements relevant to non-hire records generally vary depending on the size of an employer and the type of business they conduct.2

Generally Speaking

The general rule of thumb seems to be: keep all records of non-hired individuals for 1 year, for people over age 40 (if known), then 2 years1. If you’re a government contractor, then it depends on the number of employees you have with 1 year for under 150 people and 2 years for over that amount (although one article did state up to 3 years under certain cirmumstances3).

However, the waters become murky if someone claims discrimination. Then documentation must be maintained until the matter reaches a resolution.1

For current employees, discrimination may be claimed due to lack of a promotion or lack of equal treatment, even occurring years after they were hired. No easy solutions were offered for this type of scenario.

What ever your practices are currently, you might want to take a quick peek at your system. Hopefully you will never need that paperwork gathering dust, but if you do, you’ll be glad you kept it.

Commentary from Your CATALYST VetPC Team!


1 Keeping Resumes and Applications
2 How Long Should You Keep Non-Hire Resumes, Applications and Other Related Records?
3 Applications: Retention: What are the federal record retention guidelines for applications and resumes of candidates we do not select?
4 Ask HR: Should We Keep a Copy of Every Resume We Receive?