Jeff On Call: How Long Must I Keep My Placement Files?


Q: How long must I keep my placement files?

Three years has worked well, and conforms to the universally known IRS tax record retention period.

The federal, state, and local record retention periods range from one to five years. With so many legal and administrative rules, a three-year period should suffice for job orders, resumes, and any candidate background checks.

Of course, if you know an issue has arisen or is likely to arise, retain all documents for that year forward to the present.

There are serious, separate penalties for the failure to keep employment records and transactions.

If you don’t maintain accurate written records of all job orders backing up all Internet job postings, you’re asking for trouble. You also must keep files on all responses, sendouts, e-mail correspondence, and everything else relating to these transactions regardless of whether or not you place anyone.

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Under the federal law, these records must be maintained for at least one year. (29 CFR 1602.14 and 29 CFR 1627.2, et seq.)

So our general suggestion is to maintain everything meticulously for three years. But check with your local law library or lawyer for specific record retention periods.


To participate in future Q&As, email Keep in mind you should always consult with your own attorney. Nothing contained herein should be construed as legal advice. It is for your information only.

More than thirty-five years ago, Jeffrey G. Allen, J.D., C.P.C. turned a decade of recruiting and human resources management into the legal specialty of placement law. Since 1975, Jeff has collected more placement fees, litigated more trade secrets cases, and assisted more placement practitioners than anyone else. From individuals to multinational corporations in every phase of staffing, his name is synonymous with competent legal representation. Jeff holds four certifications in placement and is the author of 24 popular books in the career field, including bestsellers How to Turn an Interview into a Job, The Complete Q&A Job Interview Book and the revolutionary Instant Interviews. As the world?s leading placement lawyer, Jeff?s experience includes: Thirty-five years of law practice specializing in representation of staffing businesses and practitioners; Author of ?The Allen Law?--the only placement information trade secrets law in the United States; Expert witness on employment and placement matters; Recruiter and staffing service office manager; Human resources manager for major employers; Certified Personnel Consultant, Certified Placement Counselor, Certified Employment Specialist and Certified Search Specialist designations; Cofounder of the national Certified Search Specialist program; Special Advisor to the American Employment Association; General Counsel to the California Association of Personnel Consultants (honorary lifetime membership conferred); Founder and Director of the National Placement Law Center; Recipient of the Staffing Industry Lifetime Achievement Award; Advisor to national, regional and state trade associations on legal, ethics and legislative matters; Author of The Placement Strategy Handbook, Placement Management, The National Placement Law Center Fee Collection Guide and The Best of Jeff Allen, published by Search Research Institute exclusively for the staffing industry; and Producer of the EMPLAW Audio Series on employment law matters. Email him at


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