GDPR Compliance for Recruiters: Understanding and Adhering to Data Protection Standards


Navigating the landscape of data protection, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) stands as a beacon of privacy and security in the digital age. For recruiters, understanding and implementing GDPR is not just about legal compliance; it’s about fostering trust and transparency in the recruitment process.

This article delves into the essentials of GDPR for recruiters, unraveling its principles, implications, and the proactive steps needed to ensure compliance. Join us as we explore how GDPR reshapes the recruitment sphere, ensuring the protection of personal data and the upholding of privacy rights.

What is GDPR?

GDPR is the General Data Protection Regulation, one of the world’s strictest data security and consumer privacy laws. It ensures that organizations collecting data from anyone in the EU adhere to data protection standards and privacy rights.  

An organization that wants to operate in Europe or hire European employees must comply with GDPR guidelines. As of 25 May 2018, all organizations were required to comply with the law. Under any circumstance, if an organization fails to follow the GDPR rule, it might be fined up to 4% of its annual turnover or €20 million, depending on the reputation damage. 

GDPR functions and thrives on a few fundamental principles, and they are as follows: 

  1. Accountability: Organizations need to prove their compliance with data regulation through contracts, policies, and data records.  
  2. Integrity: Ethically process it so that it stops unlawful utilization of data and also protects against accidental loss.   
  3. Confidentiality: As an organization collects personal data, accurate security measures are needed for privacy.  
  4. Data accuracy: Only process necessary data to maintain accuracy, limits data breach.   
  5. Utilize the collected data for lawful purposes: Data should be collected with meaningful intent.  
  6. Lawfulness, fairness, and transparency: Ventures must abide by GDPR rules and disclose the data practices transparently. 
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What Implication Does GDPR Have on Recruiters? 

Data collection is a cornerstone parameter in recruitment. It starts with collecting candidate data and then ranges from data processing to forwarding cold emails and calls. However, enforcing GDPR compliance in recruitment has shaken the foundation of data collection. 

The work of GDPR has different implications for different organizations. In this article, we will explore GDPR in the context of recruitment. 

With that in mind, take note of the specific terminologies with GDPR compliance in recruitment. 

  • Data subjects: Job seekers 
  • Personal data: Data used to identify the data subject (job seekers). It could be a phone number, email, or name. 
  • Controllers: Entities that facilitate how personal data is processed. 
  • Processors: Legal body that analyses the personal data in place of controllers. 
  • Processing: Actions that can be carried out on personal data, such as recording, collecting, organizing, storing, erasing, and using. 

Which GDPR Guidelines Does the Recruitment Department Have to Follow?

Essentially, the fundamentals of GDPR revolve around one parameter – it’s having the data subjects consent.

On the other hand, recruiters are data controllers with two vital jobs at their disposal. 

  1. Acquire the data 
  2. Process the data 

Additionally, recruiters must ensure that the consent withdrawal process is more straightforward. If a candidate wants to withdraw their details, organizations must stop using the data and remove it from their database. 

Minute Details of Recruitment: While Following GDPR Compliance 

The subtle implementation of GDPR was felt in every industry. Here, we will discuss how it impacts the recruitment process. 

Scenario One 

Information that an organization must provide while updating a job listing

  • The company and company representative phone number and name. 
  • The data should only be collected for recruitment purposes. 
  • Recruitment team must inform and update the candidate about the organization that will source the candidate’s information. 

This is the first set of compliances organizations must follow to gather information. Then comes the second set of compliance rules, and they are as follows:  

  1. Inform the candidate about the timeline for how long the data will be stored in the company’s database. If organizations are not aware of the duration of data storage, it would help if you intimidated the job seeker with a general update. For example, send a message to the candidate stating, “Your details will be stored in the organization’s database as long as the job role is open.  
  2. Inform candidates how they can erase, correct, and access data. They can withdraw the data without consenting to processing it. 
  3. Whom should the candidate contact in instances when they need to file a complaint about the processing of information? 
  4. If your recruitment process involves automation to assess the candidates’ abilities, the organizations need to explain the necessity of such automation. 
  5. Apart from recruitment, if the data is being used in any other scenario, the candidate needs to be informed in advance. 
  6. If any organization opts to source the data indirectly, you still need to inform the candidate of the conditions mentioned above and the scenarios. Secondly, according to the compliance rule, you can only collect data if you wish to contact them within 30 days. 

Scenario Two 

When the processor processes candidate data on behalf of the organization. 

Once the organization has gathered the candidate’s consent-based information and updated the candidate’s compliance, further data processing becomes possible. During the processing period, candidates can make rightful requests, which are within their rights under the rules of GDPR, and organizations need to act accordingly, such as:  

Data subject’s Right to Data Accessibility 

Under any circumstance, when the candidate asks for data, the organization must share a copy of the information. Additionally, they need to share the information they provided to gather consent. 

Right to Rectification 

Whenever a candidate contacts the organization to inform them that their data is incorrect or incomplete, the organization needs to update and verify the information right away. 

Right to erasure 

Under any circumstances mentioned below, you will delete the job seeker data from your database. 

  • When the candidate data is no longer relevant to the recruitment process, it can happen that the hiring for a particular position has closed, so you have to delete the candidate’s data from the database. 
  • The candidate disapproves of processing their information 
  • The organization obtained candidates’ data unlawfully. 

Right to Restriction of Processing 

Under the circumstances mentioned below, organizations have to stop processing candidates’ data. 

  • When the candidate informs the organization that the data is not accurate, an organization can only resume processing the information once the candidate confirms the accuracy. 
  • You have sourced the data illegitimately, but the candidate wants you to refrain from processing it. At the same time, they are okay with the organization keeping their data in the database. 

Right to data portability 

The candidate’s data can be exported upon the candidate’s approval, and it should be readable. The candidate should be able to use it for other employment opportunities. 

Right to object 

Candidates can object to data processing, and organizations must comply. If an organization has more than 250 employees, here are some of the documented records it needs to maintain. 

  • Names and contact details of the company employees 
  • Justifiable reason for processing companies’ data 
  • Data subjects are described in categories and their data 
  • List of recipients with whom the organization will further share the data  

As so many crucial updates are required for adhering to GDPR, the last thing you want is a processor who is non-compliant or clueless. Under such circumstances, it is best to update to the right processor. 

Overcoming GDPR Compliance Challenges 

GDPR compliance in recruitment carries considerable weight and has changed how the recruitment landscape operates. Therefore, organizations need to address the following five technologies and practices that can challenge GDPR guidelines. 

Cloud computing 

Most organizations use cloud computing for multiple reasons. However, there are security concerns, mainly due to the need for a more controlled IT infrastructure. 

To overcome this particular challenge, selecting a trustworthy cloud provider is crucial. Secondly, a contractual term should be developed to manage security fundamentals. Cloud access security brokers (CASB), cloud data loss prevention (CDLP), and information rights management can offer security similar to on-premise solutions. 


People use smartphones to access corporate data and applications. Therefore, taking care of the network is insufficient, as the network can extend anywhere employees can do their jobs. Technology should be in place to protect the devices being used, regardless of where they are. 


IoT is just beginning to take shape, and if your organization includes developing or using new products and services around this technology, then data security has to be a significant part of it due to GDPR compliance. 

Protecting data will require proficient security consulting services and appropriate solutions as the technicality of IoT relies on infrastructure. 

Shadow IT 

It is not a technology but is heavily linked to digital transformation. It usually occurs when the technology users empower themselves to learn about the latest devices and programs. Here, the users become more productive, but it also creates security threats. The only way to solve the problem is to have suitable controllers to protect the data. 

The controllers can identify the hidden data flow and fully understand the network and data. 

Big Data 

It is a powerful model that can anticipate market and customer behavior, providing insightful details and helping with better decision-making. However, the organization has to deal with an immense amount of data. Therefore, the chances of security breaches are significant. 

To minimize the risk while complying with GDPR, powerful security advice from a technical and architectural strategic consultancy is required. 

Given its enormous power, data is the new gold. That’s why more and more people are educating themselves about data safety so that when they provide data, they can analyze whether they are providing the data to a legitimate party. 

How does GDPR Increase Data Governance?  

The principles of GDPR entail how organizations should use data by maintaining confidentiality, consent, and security. 

  • It increases trust with data providers, demonstrating that you value their rights and personal information. 
  • Enables data democratization as people become more interested in sharing data information. 
  • The strict security standards diminish the possibility of hacks and malicious attacks. 
  • It unlocks new possibilities for sharing data inside and outside the organization. 

What does a Recruiter Need to do to Abide by GDPR compliance? 

Recruiting agencies take note of the following rules to be GDPR compliant:

  • Whatever third-party vendor manages recruitment information, must follow GDPR terms and policies. Recruiters using ATS should also be GDPR compliant when communicating to candidates. 
  • When asking for personal information from an eligible candidate, be entirely sure that the information is necessary. Secondly, go ahead and explain how the information will aid the recruitment process. Also, intimidate the candidate if more information will be required in the future for the screening process. Lastly, provide the links to the privacy policies. 
  • According to GDPR, the organization should protect all personal and historic data. That’s why recruiters should go through the candidate’s database to ensure accuracy and relevance. In this process, they should eliminate irrelevant and unqualified profiles and update the existing candidates on data usage. 
  • Listening to candidates when it comes to data requests is extremely important. To be compliant with GDPR, candidates need to access data types upon request. Giving the organization one month to rectify the inaccuracies is also important.   

Wrapping up

General data protection regulation has set the standards high for the candidate, and the laws and regulations have benefitted the candidate due to its complete control over information. These guidelines pave the path for a comfortable recruitment experience. Therefore, stay informed about GDPR compliance in your recruitment efforts and experience a paradigm shift in your recruitment models

Article by:
Business Manager at Thomson Data LLC
Business Manager at Thomson Data LLC
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