We know modern advertising is based, to an uncomfortable degree, on personal info culled from the internet. Everything from search histories to GPS locations will get you and your whole family targeted by ads designed to appeal to your personal interests. Even those of us who find it creepy (me) have accepted it as a fact of life by now.
But it’s a little different hearing it from the perspective of the targeter — and I dare say it makes me feel even more creeped-out.
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Carol McDaniel, director of talent acquisition at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital was facing a shortage of qualified candidates for a very particular job. The hospital was looking for acute care-certified neonatal nurse practitioners. So instead of waiting for someone to come to her, she decided to seek them out.
According to NPR, the hospital buys lists of qualified candidates and sets up a geofence around their home and work. Whenever they enter the area (which would be every day), ads appear on their phone encouraging them to apply for jobs at Johns Hopkins. And they apparently work — now McDaniel gets multiple nibbles per week, up from the zero she received previously.
McDaniel acknowledges the targeted recruitment campaign is a little creepy and “Big Brotherish,” but in the same breath dismisses those thoughts because the campaign is getting results. People are apparently flattered to be asked, even if they work at rival hospitals, and the geofencing is relatively inexpensive.
I assume a comparable experience would be for me to walk into my home and immediately start seeing ads for a tech journo position in New York. I’m not exactly in as high demand as a neonatal nurse, but I know I wouldn’t exactly find it flattering. I’d find it more like an episode of the X-Files.