Scroll leisurely past an advertisement on any website, stop — even inadvertently — and you’re likely to find yourself inundated with that product or service for days afterward. Some believe voice-activated personal assistants are listening for marketing opportunities. The fact is, data is the most valuable resource in the world today, outpacing real commodities like oil and gold. Your personal information is that data.
“If you’re not paying for the product, then you are the product” isn’t just an offhand remark; it’s reality. The online services you use for free: search engines, social and professional media outlets, and others, are amassing data to sell — your data. When you register on any site, even for products you’re purchasing, unless the company explicitly excludes the practice, the company is probably getting paid for the product you buy as well as the data you shared.
Where data turns to dollars
Tech companies aren’t the only ones interested in amassing data. A 2021 report found intangible assets made up over 80% of the total value of the S&P 500. A good percentage of those assets is customer data.
If you read the ‘terms of service’ on almost any website, you’ll need to scroll for a bit to find how your data is used for marketing. This phrase, or one similar, explains the company will sell your data ‘to provide personalized, targeted, or location-based content, services, and advertising from us and third parties.’
Email and street addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, browser type, device IDs, operating systems, clickstream data (where you came from and where you go next) and purchase preferences are probably the most sold data. For sites that don’t offer a specific product, your data is no less valuable. In addition to registration information, most sites track these, along with the websites and pages their users land on or click to within the site… even more data for sale.
When can you opt out?
Registering on any site, including filling out an application or uploading your resume, gives the service provider an opportunity to make a sale. If you’ve ever read the terms of service (and who has), you know your data is being shared. In California, you have the right to ‘opt out’ of data sharing, but unless you make the choice proactively, your personal information is on sale.
Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) requires full transparency and limited use of customer data. Unfortunately, these types of privacy law haven’t caught on widely in the US. If you’re not given the option to protect your data or notified how it’s being used before you enter it, it’s a commodity.
Job seekers are no exception
For job seekers, the practice is more subtle, but it still exists. You may upload your resume or fill out an application on a site that says they don’t share or sell this information. That doesn’t mean they aren’t selling the information you used to register on the site – the price you’re paying for their ‘free’ service.
For some job seekers, the site shares your application or resume only with companies you approve. Some give you the option to let their tech match you with other employers and share your qualifications. You may think that’s the limit of sharing your data, but it’s not.
In the fine print you may find the wording is quite specific: they won’t share your application or resume, but there’s no mention of the information you entered to be a registered user of the site. For job boards that provide a free service, they’re being paid by the companies looking to fill positions; they’re likely also being paid for your registration data.
As soon as you finish your registration, and probably before you’ve uploaded your resume, your data is sold. AI is marketing your information generically – some selling it specifically to customers looking for your demographic.
How is HospitalRecruiting different?
Your data is a valuable commodity in today’s online global economy. It’s wise to work with companies who respect that value and guard it for your benefit, not their own. We value our users. We know you’re looking for a job, not an avalanche of ads.