Recruiters Use 'Geofencing' To Target Potential Hires Where They Live And Work : All Tech Considered Geofencing sets up virtual boundaries to enable tracking of mobile devices in an area. It can be used to send coupons to customers. Now some employers are using it to target and recruit workers.

Recruiters Use 'Geofencing' To Target Potential Hires Where They Live And Work

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We're going to hear about something called geofencing. You might know about it. But if you don't, it's wireless technology that tracks mobile devices entering and exiting a specific area. Up to this point, it's mostly been used by marketers who use it to send coupons to potential customers nearby. NPR's Yuki Noguchi reports some employers are now using it to target and recruit prospective employees.

YUKI NOGUCHI, BYLINE: It's very hard to find people to fill some of the most specialized jobs at Johns Hopkins All Children's Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla. Carol McDaniel, the recruitment director, says that's especially true for acute-care certified neonatal nurse practitioners.

CAROL MCDANIEL: Always in short supply, high-demand and a very, very small group of people.

NOGUCHI: So about six months ago, McDaniel says the hospital started using a new recruitment tactic. It buys lists of potential candidates called from online profiles or educational records. It then sets up geofences at professional conferences or in areas where those people live and work.

MCDANIEL: Facebook, LinkedIn - we can buy ZIP codes. We can look at critical-care certified lists from different colleges and universities who teach these programs.

NOGUCHI: When nurses with credentials enter a geofenced zone, ads inviting them to apply to All Children's appear on their phones. The system also automatically collects data from each user's cellphone so it can continue to advertise to them even after they leave the geofenced area. McDaniel says she even tries to poach workers by sending ads to nurses as they go to work at rival hospitals. The result - she's getting responses from 3 to 4 job candidates a week.

MCDANIEL: That's a huge success because I was getting nothing before.

NOGUCHI: She says it's also far more cost-effective.

MCDANIEL: We have invaded their space in which they live and work. So it's a much better use of our dollars. We're not just throwing out a wide net and seeing who, you know, comes through the pipeline.

NOGUCHI: McDaniel says, yes, it's a bit creepy, but she says people who respond say they're flattered.

MCDANIEL: A lot of people look at it as a compliment. And they - makes them kind of feel good for the day. Wow, you know, Johns Hopkins reached out to me.

NOGUCHI: As employers face a tight labor market, they're having to get more aggressive and innovative to fill critical jobs. Mobile phones are becoming a key part of how that is done. Wayne Cederholm is vice president of driver recruitment for Salt Lake City trucking firm C.R. England. He says mobile recruitment through social media or geofencing has become far more important.

WAYNE CEDERHOLM: Applications are being completed on a mobile 75 percent of the time.

NOGUCHI: He says finding drivers is incredibly competitive. Drivers might defect over a slight increase in pay or an extra day of rest between runs, so reminding drivers of opportunities at his company is very important to his business.

CEDERHOLM: There's not a lot that differentiates these carriers. So the smallest thing can make a big difference.

NOGUCHI: It especially matters to those recruiting among younger workers whose gateway to the world are their phones.

JACOB RHOADES: People really don't spend nearly as much time on the traditional job boards.

NOGUCHI: That's Jacob Rhodes, vice president of marketing for Parker Staffing Services in Seattle. The company saw a 40 percent increase in web traffic and an uptick in resumes after it set up geofences this spring at area college graduations.

RHOADES: It's tough for a small business especially in the Seattle hiring market to get our name out there considering we compete against companies like Amazon.

NOGUCHI: And the price is unbeatable, Rhoades says. His latest experiment in geofencing was more effective and cheaper than traditional campaigns he's done before. Yuki Noguchi, NPR News, Washington.


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