Resumes – How Long Do I Keep Them?


Every so often I catch myself hovering over the delete button of an unsolicited resume. Are we, as recruiters, legally able to discard resumes? Asking around, it appears that most HR Professionals are unsure exactly what the requirements are for storing resumes. It appears we tend to hold on to every single resume just in case – meaning there are some very full inboxes!

Despite extensive research, it’s not easy to get a straight answer. However, here are some facts:

The Facts

Employee Records

  • Employment Standards refers to the “collection of accurate and current employment records for each employee, which must be stored appropriately and kept for 3 years” (ES Code, Section 15).
  • PIPA defines personal employee information as “personal information about an individual who is a potential employee, a current employee or a former employee, that is reasonably required by an organization for the purposes of establishing, managing or terminating an employment or a volunteer work relationship…” – Section 1(1)


  • Resumes are considered personal employee information. Information that is used for an employment decision, including resumes, telephone screens, interview or reference checks must be kept for 3 years, regardless of the outcome of the decision.  Remember, candidates have a right to access this information, and it may be required by Court if a recruitment decision is challenged.

Unsolicited resumes

  • PIPEDA lists 10 principles of fair information practices, the fifth of which pertains to the handling of unsolicited resumes. “Limiting use, disclosure or retention: Keep personal information only as long as necessary to satisfy the purposes; put guidelines and procedures in place for retaining and destroying personal information; keep personal information used to make a decision about a person for a reasonable time period. This should allow the person to obtain the information after the decision and pursue redress. Destroy, erase or render anonymous information that is no longer required for an identified or a legal requirement.”
  • Service Alberta recommends that organizations include in their policies a statement as to how it will handle unsolicited resumes. This might be “Unsolicited resumes will be treated as transitory documents and will be destroyed immediately in a secure manner.” This could be included in your Privacy Policy or your Recruitment & Selection Policy.


For the most part, there is no requirement for employers to keep resumes on file if they have no use for them. Furthermore, there is a responsibility on the employer to ensure unnecessary records aren’t held onto beyond necessity. Some organizations choose to store all received resumes, solicited or otherwise, for 3 months, in case they can be used for future positions; others have a policy in place to immediately discard any unsolicited resumes.

If you find yourself also hovering over that delete button and wondering what your policy is on this, perhaps it’s time to create one. Clarify your organization’s stance on unsolicited resumes and open up some space in that inbox.


Service Alberta
PIPA Information Sheet

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