Featured letter: ‘Universal Jobmatch’ con: ‘Rabbit trail’ of recurring, non-existent job ads

One of Iain Duncan Smith’s statistics

‘Universal Jobmatch’ is a website jobseekers are encouraged to use to find work.

Unemployment benefit claimants can face an obligation to spend 35 hours a week job searching. We are compelled to use the site, granting access to our Jobcentre Plus adviser, who can monitor our efforts. We all know the consequences of failing to meet Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) expectations – reasonable or otherwise.

The site was designed by Monster, a private online recruitment agency. Monster won out after a controversial tender process that saw the government pay almost a million pounds in compensation to other bidders.

The site has been and still is riddled with problems. I believe some of these problems, pernicious in nature, are there to trip up claimants.

At best, it makes ad revenue but doesn’t provide anything new, just re-posting vacancies from other sources. Jobseekers end up going down a rabbit trail, trying to find who they are actually applying to. Whether the advertised job exists is another matter entirely.

Nothing back

Attempts to contact the site owner have no guarantee at all of a response. I have yet to hear back from any advertiser, even when requesting basic information about the job in question. Details are rarely provided in the advert.

However, the larger problem is that a search can yield an almost infinite list of results the claimant must wade through. If the claimant is on the DWP ‘work programme’ – working for their dole – it is likely the workfare employer will be overseeing this effort. This will lead to a tired job searcher rewarded with frustration.

The list will also repeat adverts, sometimes under a different heading. This is usually the case with telesales jobs which seem ubiquitous; adverts with no real content, appealing to the applicant’s “drive” and “passion”.

This problem is amplified by the dysfunctional nature of the site itself. Clicking to look at the next page will completely reshuffle results. This makes it impossible to maintain an effective search.

Finally the site ‘encourages’ claimants to explain, by means of a drop-down form, why they are ‘refusing’ to apply for a particular vacancy. Anyone with any experience of the DWP will tell you that this is the fast track to a sanction.