Posted on February 15, 2016

Ask HR: Should We Keep a Copy of Every Resume We Receive?

Is your organization drowning in resumes? You wouldn't be the only one. As more and more employers move toward mobile apply and other technologies for filling open positions, one question remains: Do you still need to keep copies of every resume that comes through your door, virtual or otherwise? As well, do you need to respond to everyone who sends you a resume?

This week's Ask HR column from the HR pros at HR Support Center addresses these timely topics. Whether you're a job applicant or an HR manager, you'll find this advice useful. Read on...but don't get out your shredder just yet.


I have some questions about resumes and applications. Do I need to keep all resumes that are sent to me? If so, for how long? And do I need to contact each person who applies to let them know they were not hired?

Answer from Eric, HR Pro:

When you accept resumes or applications in relation to a job, the resumes should be maintained for one year for compliance with an assortment of laws. Federal contractors should maintain these records for at least two years. Resumes that you received unsolicited can be discarded, but if you have a practice of accepting any unsolicited resumes, I would save all of these for a year as well.

The amount of communication with applicants you do is entirely up to you and what you want. I recommend explaining in your job postings what communication or lack thereof applicants can expect. As a general rule, no contact is needed for unsolicited resumes, and it’s usually not expected. No contact is required in response to submitted applications, although applicants at the later stages of the process will expect some kind of notification (email or letter) as a courtesy. Please note, however, that government contractors also have different rules regarding communication with applicants.

While responses are not required, leaving applicants who do not get the position with a positive feeling helps create a positive reputation for your company, so we recommend doing so to the extent you can.

Eric, HR ProEric has extensive experience in HR, management, and training. He has held several senior HR positions, including as the HR & Operations Manager for an award-winning interactive marketing agency and as HR Director for a national law firm. Eric graduated with a Bachelor’s of Science in Economics from the University of Oregon with a minor in Business Administration. Eric is also active in the community, volunteering with the regional Human Resources Management Association Advocacy Team and with youth training programs.

Do you have questions like this? One entire year of HR Support Center is cheaper than just one hour of a typical attorney's time. Ask us instead.