• Applicants worry about sensitive personal data on applications

    All of us are asked from time to time for various reasons to give out data information on ourselves.  Whether it’s applying for something as simple as a store customer loyalty card or something more invasive like a loan application, we see this every day.  Any time we sign up for a new service, we are required to give some type of data to the service provider.  Increasingly, individuals all over the world, not just Americans, are becoming wary of giving out personal information.

    Job applications are no different.  Employers ask applicants to provide a lot of personal information.  Applicants may become nervous about what is happening to their data once their application is submitted. They may worry their data will end up in the wrong hands or be exposed during a data breach. We’ve all felt that moment of panic when giving out sensitive personal information or seeing a news story about the latest data security compromise.

    Have you seen this issue in the workplace lately? Are applicants requesting to delete applications due to too much personal data collected during the application process?

    Do you know what the proper procedure is to deal with these requests?

    Here’s how to handle requests to delete applications

    Clear it with Legal

    The first thing to do is contact your legal counsel to be sure that your company does not have any litigation hold for deleting applicant data. Please follow the advice of your legal team on the best way to proceed.

    If you have Canadian applicants, Canadian governmental regulations require that employers delete the application upon request. Again, consult with your legal counsel on the preferred way to deal with these requests.

    Post your privacy policy

    Once the request is cleared by legal, be sure to have a clear privacy policy posted on the website where your applicants apply. Here is an example from the website: Our Privacy Policy

    Make sure applicants can contact you with questions

    On the website, set up a specific email address (i.e., to deal specifically with these requests.  Make sure applicants can easily contact you with questions.

    Create automated rules to help you quickly respond to privacy requests

    Create and set up an auto-generated email that will automatically and immediately respond to applicants’ privacy request emails.  In the auto-generated email, you can ask the applicant for information that will help you quickly locate their application in your system. An example would be requesting the applicant’s full name, email address, phone number, position applied for, and date of application.  Any type of information that you need and that was missing in their initial request.

    Contact IT for best practices for deleting sensitive data

    When you have all the required information from the applicant, contact your IT team regarding the best procedure to delete the applicant data.


    Once IT confirms the data is deleted, quickly respond to the applicant to let them know that their request was completed.

    Privacy is essential to most people.  Trusting the company where you submitted your application is part of the company’s employer brand.  The experience of asking for your data to be deleted and feeling sure it was done is part of the candidate experience.  When an applicant submits personal information, they want to be sure you will do the right thing with it, which may mean deleting it. Establishing trust is vital for your overall employer brand.  If you follow the steps listed above, you can be sure your applicant’s data was deleted and then confidently communicate this back to them.  Ensuring your applicants feel in control over their data will serve you well over time.  Once trust has been established, it won’t be forgotten. The applicant who backed out today may come back to reapply in the future.

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