HR Function

Is Jobcentre recruitment a complete waste of time?

happy employee

The Jobcentre’s “Find a job” service is the UK government’s official job board. It is free to advertise vacancies for your business, and your vacancies are shared with everybody who uses the Jobcentre to look for work. As such, you might expect it to be just the service you need, in your search for eager new talent for your workforce.

But according to recruitment expert Mahasen Gunawardena (aka Lanks), CEO of Simplified, Jobcentre recruitment is, more often than not, a useless waste of time. I spoke to him to find out why this was, and what you can do about it as an employer.

The problem with Jobcentre recruitment for employers

If you have ever advertised a vacancy via the Jobcentre, then you may have been pleasantly surprised to receive dozens of applications, in a very short space of time. But according to recruitment expert Lanks, the volume of applications you receive is a false positive – because in reality, most of the people who apply do not actually want a job.

“Applying for jobs is simply a check-box exercise, in order for them to continue receiving their benefits” he explained. “If they haven’t applied for jobs this week, they don’t get the payment of their benefits this week. And so, they send a few token applications, in order to meet the minimum criteria to collect their payment.”

I must have raised an eyebrow at this, because Lanks laughed, and told me that yes, it is a harsh assessment. But you only have to look at a handful of CVs to realise that it is also a harsh reality.

“I don’t actually want this job”

Lanks has been experimenting with Jobcentre recruitment for a long time now, trying to find out the perfect formula. And he says that many of the applicants do not even try to hide their intentions.

Amongst the various applications he has received, he has found CVs including phrases such as:

 * “I am only applying because I want my benefits”

 * “I don’t have any skills so there is no point hiring me”

 * “I don’t actually want this job”

“For a while, I wanted to give the people writing these things the benefit of the doubt,” he told me. “I told myself that they were just down on their luck, and lacking motivation and self-confidence. But actually, what I was finding was that I was inviting them for interviews, and they weren’t showing up. They literally meant the words they were writing on their CVs.”

Genuine job seekers are struggling to be seen

I asked Lanks if he thought the majority of people using the Jobcentre were only trying to game the system. He told me that there are plenty of genuine job seekers using the service, but that there are very few who find success.

Lanks said that this is because they are getting lost, amidst people who are only job seekers by name. He also says that many serious companies are avoiding advertising via the Jobcentre, because of the number of time wasters using the service.

“Genuine job seekers do exist,” he told me. “They badly want a job, but they are using a service that has been saturated, and almost ruined, by people who do not want to work.”

Don’t give up – Jobcentre recruitment has its benefits

Despite its drawbacks, there are plenty of reasons to make Jobcentre recruitment work for you and your organisation. For example:

 * It is a free resource that gives you access to thousands of job seekers

 * You are making a good contribution to society, by helping people desperate for work, to find work

 * You may find hidden gems that are not searching on the mainstream platforms

Lanks said that it is very possible to make Jobcentre recruitment work. You simply need to adapt your recruitment slightly, to account for the fact that many job seekers are not actually seeking a job.

Three recruitment strategies that help you find hot talent via Jobcentre

Lanks outlined three specific ways you can recruit more effectively via Jobcentre’s free recruitment platform.

1, Hold a recruitment open day. “Instead of trying to spear individual candidates,” he said, “hold a job open day and invite as many as you can attend,” Lanks said that you shouldn’t worry if you get 100 applicants – 100 people are definitely not going to turn up! But those who do turn up, are probably serious about finding work. “Set aside a few hours to give the group more information about the job” he advised. “Have a chat with them, look at their CVs, and work out whether they really are serious. If they are, great – follow up with your recruitment process as normal.”

2, Hold small “group” interviews. “The objective here is to actually have one-on-one interviews as normal,” said Lanks, when I asked why the word “group” was in air quotes. “But by setting aside small group slots, and inviting 3-5 people to attend at a time, you are accounting for the fact that 80% probably won’t turn up. And if they do, 3 people are not too many to talk to at once. You are basically maximising your chances of the interviewee turning up, without overwhelming yourself. This method can be better than holding an open day, if you are recruiting for one specific position, instead of trying to fill a few.”

3, Add an extra hurdle to your recruitment process. “We would never normally advise making your recruitment process more complicated” explained Lanks. “But the goal here is to cut out the people who are not serious about getting a job. So what we found worked really well in our tests, was adding an extra hurdle, or an extra step, to the process.” Lanks said that this could be as simple as sending all applicants an additional application form to fill out and send back. “In our tests, this forced 90% of applicants to drop out completely” he reported. “10% went the extra mile and pushed forward. Of that 10%, the quality of applicants was massively better.”

So if you want a completely free resource to help you find top talent, then the Jobcentre is a valid option. But you must be prepared to do things a little differently if you want to get the best results.

Lanks is the CEO of Simplified – a leading job advertising and recruitment platform. To learn more about Simplified, or how to use their recruitment technology, or their job advertising service to access up to 50,000 job boards, you can visit their website here: