Why you should care about recruiting compliance

April 7, 2023 Updated: September 18, 2023 9 min read

Recruiters work hard to attract, screen, and hire new employees. They’re often busy engaging potential talent, connecting with new hires, and collaborating with hiring teams. 

Great recruiters also prioritize compliance. While it doesn’t sound as exciting as finding top talent, recruitment compliance is essential to an organization’s success.

Not sure what, exactly, compliance is? Who it’s for? Or how to do it better? We’ve got you covered. In this post, we’re tackling the ins and outs of compliance, what to watch out for, and our top tips for getting ahead.

What’s recruiting compliance?

To put it simply: recruiting compliance is attracting, screening, and hiring while following the law.

Recruiting compliance supports inclusion. It protects people of different races, colors, religions, sexes, nationalities, ages, disabilities, or genetic make-up from discrimination.

Everything from job descriptions to applicant outreach to interview questions are all subject to compliance laws. 

Why is recruiting compliance important?

Recruiting compliance is essential, and not just because it’s the law. Here are just a few reasons:

  1. Recruiting compliance promotes diversity. Recruiting compliance helps businesses combat discrimination. It makes sure all candidates are protected from harm. 

Stereotypes, poor training, or lack of oversight can perpetuate biased hiring decisions. Maintaining compliance promotes more fair hiring practices. 

Fair and inclusive hiring helps organizations build stronger, more diverse, and more dynamic teams. Compliant hiring also promotes equal pay for everyone, regardless of demographic data or gender identity.

  1. Recruiting compliance protects your employer brand. Discriminatory or noncompliant hiring practices will damage your company’s reputation. Brand issues can negatively impact organizational growth and success.

Negative perception also impacts talent acquisition. 75% of candidates take company brand into account when applying for jobs. If your brand suffers, the best talent will pass you by.

  1. Recruiting compliance saves time and money. Hiring teams that don’t take compliance seriously put their companies at risk.  

Noncompliance exposes organizations to hefty fines and lawsuits. Infractions like data breaches, discrimination, or safety failures can cost companies millions of dollars.

Time spent managing compliance breaches, fines, or lawsuits is time taken away from priority tasks. Noncompliance gets in the way of running your business smoothly.

In the end, recruiters who want to hire inclusively, protect their employer brand, and save both time and money need to commit to compliance. If you’ve overlooked compliance in the past, it’s time to pay close attention now.

Who oversees compliance?

There are many organizations that enforce compliance nationwide. While they each function differently, the primary goal for each governing body is the same: protect workers, job seekers, and consumers.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

This organization enforces federal discrimination laws. It’s illegal to discriminate against applicants or employees because of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information. Sex includes pregnancy, transgender status, and sexual orientation.

The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP)

Federal contractors that do business with the government for over $10,000 also answer to the OFCCP. This organization prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin.

The OFCCP also enforces affirmative action. And they require contractors to make efforts to employ qualified veterans and people with disabilities.

The Office for Civil Rights (OCR)

This organization falls under the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). They enforce federal civil rights laws, including conscience and religious freedom laws, and the right to nondiscrimination. 

The OCR is especially important if you’re in healthcare. They enforce health information privacy and patient confidentiality, as well as manage discrimination violations.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL)

The DOL enforces over 180 federal laws that apply to millions of workers and businesses. They oversee wages and work hours, workplace safety and health, compensation, benefits security, and unions. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) falls under the DOL.

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The GDPR is a European Union (EU) data privacy and security law that sets out requirements for organizations worldwide. Compliance with GDPR regulations protects personal data for consumers. They require things like encryption, secure data storage, and clear privacy policies. 

GDPR compliance is required for any organization, in any country, that makes their sites or services available to EU consumers. This includes US based companies.

By following compliance laws and policies that these governing bodies set out, you’ll keep both your business and job seekers safe.

What are the most common recruiting compliance challenges?

When it comes to recruiting compliance, most infractions fall under two main categories: discrimination and privacy.


Discrimination can negatively impact any phase of the recruitment process. Here are a few places compliance is especially important:

  • Job listings. Job listings should be made available to all qualified applicants. And they cannot contain discriminatory language that excludes protected classes.
  • Candidate outreach. Recruiters need to reach out to a diverse range of talent. They should engage all qualified candidates, and be sure to include protected classes. 

  • Interviews. Interviewers should only ask legal, job-related questions of applicants. Letting personal feelings guide the selection process, rather than insight, can also lead to discrimination. 
  • Pre-hire checks. It’s important that background and reference checks are compliant. Hiring teams should not ask irrelevant, discriminatory questions of previous employers or professional references.


Equity is about giving unique advantages to people that need help, especially previously underserved or overlooked groups. Failure to consider equity could demonstrate a lack of compliance.

  • Compensation. It’s best practice to avoid asking applicants about prior pay. There are many states that have outlawed these questions. 
  • Conviction or arrest records. More states are outlawing interview questions that reference prior convictions or arrest records. These are called “ban the box” laws. They help applicants avoid and overcome stigma. Consider going over background checks or drug test history until after applicants have received fair, objective interviews.


  • Data security. Job seekers provide personal data on their applications. This is sensitive information that needs to be protected. Protocols and policies should be in place so that employers handle data properly.
  • Privacy laws. Candidate data should only be accessed when necessary. Applicants should give consent before sharing their information and know how to request data deletion.
  • Recordkeeping. Employers should maintain accurate, up-to-date records. If records or documents are missing, it could show a failure to conduct thorough, compliant interview processes. 

While required by law, staying compliant is much more than just following the rules. Compliance promotes inclusion and equity and helps maintain applicant privacy.

How can my company stay compliant?

Remaining compliant might seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. There are many tips and tools available to keep you, and your candidates, safe.

1. Audit current practices

A thorough audit will help identify areas for your company to improve. You can’t fix an issue you don’t know is there. 

Use a checklist or governing body’s guidelines to conduct a thorough, accurate assessment. The GDPR checklist is a great place to start.

2. Learn the laws

The best way to avoid breaking compliance laws is to fully understand those laws. Avoid accidental missteps by staying up to date on policies, best practices, local laws, and federal laws.

Frequently review policies and offer training so employees can stay current and informed. Offer the DOL website as a resource, or encourage recruiters to join a professional organization, like the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM).

3. Provide education

Make sure everyone on the hiring team understands compliance and its importance. Give them the tools they need to stay up to date on changing policies. 

Hiring teams would also benefit from diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) training. Knowledge of diversity and inclusion is important for both maintaining compliance and achieving organizational success.

4. Automate recruiting tasks

Automated recruiting tasks will reduce the risk of human error and help avoid compliance missteps. An applicant tracking system (ATS) can help recruiters keep accurate records of each interaction with potential job seekers. Automated communications also provide a consistent, compliant experience for each candidate. 

Using software to automate recruiting also ensures applicant data is handled appropriately. Job seekers can be consistently given consent forms, privacy policies, or information on how their data is stored. Automated recruiting software also makes it easier to gather information and meet reporting requirements.

5. Strengthen job descriptions

To maintain compliance, job descriptions cannot discriminate against protected classes. That includes discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40 or older), disability, or genetic information.

It’s important to also make sure they’re accurate, relevant, and focused on job requirements. They should avoid gendered or age-ist language. Consider using specialized software to review and improve your job descriptions. 

6. Improve applicant screening

Automating screening can help ensure compliance. Artificial intelligence (AI) can present all qualified applicants to hiring teams and prevent recruiter bias. Using software to redact personal data from resumes also helps reduce bias and the risk of noncompliance. 

Using one-way video interviews in place of screening calls can also support a more compliant hiring process. Asynchronous video interviews provide the same question, in the same way, to each applicant. This kind of consistency helps avoid discrimination and compliance violations.

7. Deliver structured interviews

Structured interviews offer a systematic, consistent interview experience for each applicant. Interview guides provide compliant questions for objective, thorough interviews.

Recorded video interviews also help maintain compliance. They can be used to demonstrate compliance or improve on weaknesses. After the interview, an interview grading system or candidate scorecard will also support objective, compliant hiring.

8. Keep good records

Maintain records of conversations and interviews in case compliance ever gets called into question. Your teams should be able to demonstrate why they decided to hire one candidate over another.

Using an ATS or video interview platform will help automate record-keeping and reporting for your hiring teams.

9. Enhance data management

Use software to make sure your company is collecting and storing data securely. Make sure that whoever has access to private information or data is trained. Only retain data that you need, and be able to locate and delete stored data upon request. Automatic data purges can help prevent security issues too. 

Compliance is not just a “nice to have”—it’s a must. Maintain recruiting compliance every step of the way, from candidate outreach to final hiring decisions.

Clovers and compliance

Whether you work for a small start-up or globally recognized brand, compliance is an important part of running a successful business. And when it comes to growing your business, compliant hiring is essential. Not only will you save time and money, you’ll avoid discrimination, inequity, and privacy failures. 

Clovers has the tools you need to move your business in the right—and more compliant—direction. Maintain and strengthen your recruiting compliance with our job description software, redacted resume review tools, interview guides, and video interview technology. Reach out today to get started.

Doug Leonard

Doug is constantly working to make the hiring process more objective, insightful, and informed. As a trusted leader in the recruitment industry, Doug is always ready to guide candidates and companies to (and through) a person-first hiring experience.

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