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Keep rejected applications for three years

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in Human Resources

Q. I read in your publication that if an applicant isn't hired, we should retain the application for at least three years. I've heard elsewhere that applications should be kept for only one year beyond the date the position is filled. Have the rules changed? —S.C., Washington

A. Various federal and state laws impose different record-retention periods. As a rule of thumb, you should maintain completed applications of unsuccessful candidates for at least three years. This almost certainly meets or exceeds any federal law or state law requirements, and it's the safest legal bet for employers. One year is just too short a period to protect your organization.

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