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PeopleFilter Amplifies Ability to Track Job Applicants

Once it is activated, the company’s latest software tags the individual and deploys online advertising as the person navigates through the Web.

February 26, 2008
Related Topics: Contingent Staffing, Human Resources Management Systems (HRMS/HRIS)
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PeopleFilter Technology is testing whether online advertising techniques can be adapted to help employers fill job vacancies.

The Arlington Heights, Illinois, applicant tracking system provider and HR software vendor launched Amplify for HR on January 15. The program can follow potential job candidates throughout the Internet, placing job ads on mainstream Web sites such as Weather.com and Orbitz.com.

The software is triggered when somebody visits an employer’s corporate career Web site or opens an e-mail from a recruiter, says Kevin Harrison, president of PeopleFilter. Once activated, the program tags the individual and deploys the ads as they navigate through the Web. Amplify delivers conventional help-wanted ads or brand-building slogans that maintain a company’s presence in the minds of potential applicants.

There are caps on the number of advertisements that are sent out. On average, a person is exposed to 25 to 30 ads generated by Amplify within a 30-day period.

“Amplify does not bombard people with advertisements,” Harrison notes. “We don’t want to creep anybody out.”

According to several recruiting experts, Amplify is a novel talent acquisition product that gives job ads an extra boost. It also raises important privacy issues, says Peter Weddle, HR consultant and chief executive of Weddle’s, a Connecticut-based publisher of employment guides.

Applicant privacy is critical in the world of HR. By law, employers should limit their knowledge about a candidate to information that is relevant to a job vacancy, such as college major or type of degree.

PeopleFilter says it does not release personal data to its clients about the individual being tracked—nothing relating to gender, age or race that would expose an employer to legal liabilities. PeopleFilter also does not report which Web sites an individual has visited. Harrison says PeopleFilter worked carefully with legal experts to make sure Amplify is in full compliance. “We wanted to make sure we got this thing right,” he notes.

Harrison says Amplify offers transparency on Internet advertisements.

“If somebody wants to learn more about the e-mail or the advertisements, all they have to do is click on a special link,” he notes. There they will be able to find information about how Amplify works, who is tracking them and how their information was obtained. Individuals also will be able to unsubscribe from the ads.

“Amplify is great in concept,” says Nov Omana, founder of consultancy Collective HR Solutions. “The ability to be everywhere that a candidate turns online is rare.”

In practice, however, there are aspects about Amplify that concern him.

He says companies need to be careful about annoying candidates with pervasive ads. Some individuals—Gen Y’ers, for instance—could perceive the advertisements as Big Brother watching and may be turned off by an employer.

He says companies run the risk of doing more harm than good if they inundate potential candidates with advertisements, particularly if those individuals applied with the company in the past and had a negative experience.

“Oftentimes, people take the time to apply and then never hear back from a company one way or another,” Omana says. “Those advertisements could only help to remind them of how poorly they were treated.”

Omana says that before embarking on any online marketing campaign, companies should ask several questions about how a candidate was handled. Were they contacted to let them know that their résumé was received? Were they kept informed of where they stood during the recruiting process? Did a recruiter personally follow up with a candidate that wasn’t a good fit but could be used in another capacity?

“If a company’s way of dealing with applicants is by simply disregarding and ignoring those who didn’t make the cut, they should think twice before going on an advertisement rampage,” Omana says.

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