What is Universal Jobmatch?

Universal Jobmatch is a job search website launched by the Department of Work and Pensions in November 2012. People claiming Job Seekers Allowance are forced to use the website in order to keep their benefits going. Over 2 million accounts have been created by February 2013.

The purpose of the site is not to help people actually find work: it will not be able to conjure from thin air jobs that do not exist. It is to get people off benefits. This is achieved by monitoring claimants' activities, including jobs that are just looked at as well as those that are then applied for. This data could be used to accuse the claimants of not looking for work hard enough and then provide the justification needed to sanction claimants by suspending their benefits, or even remove them entirely. Alternatively, claimants' lives can be made so miserable that they just give up and sign off.

The government plans to extend the meaningless 'job search' activities for those out of work to make claiming benefits even harder. As a part of Universal Credit, they also plan to introduce 'conditionality', which is a requirement for those in work but on low pay or working part-time to prove that they are looking for more work. This will mean up to 35 hours a week of 'job searching' and Universal Jobmatch will be the key to enforcing this.

How can we fight Universal Jobmatch?

The DWP made it possible to force people to sign up and use the website in March 2013. There are still ways to avoid signing up and if you are forced to sign up, you do not have to give your advisor access to your account. However, more and more people do create accounts, especially those who are younger or more vulnerable and those who have been bullied by the Jobcentres.

People will not find work through Universal Jobmatch. Numerous postings on the site are spam, identity fraud scams, or work disguised as self employment to avoid paying National Minimum Wage. Alternatively, many of the real jobs are simply automatically reposted from other sites. There are no extra jobs magically created by Universal Jobmatch and at best people looking for work elsewhere will have to divert their efforts and spend time sifting through rubbish there. Because people are mandated to do this, there is an incentive for fraudsters and exploiters to fill Universal Jobmatch with their bait, as people cannot freely abandon it as they would any other useless service.

The purpose of the site is not to find work, but to monitor claimants and force them off benefits. At the same time, as the number of people that have been compelled to use the site increases, the overall monitoring of their activities becomes less effective. If every claimant spent 35 hours a week applying for jobs on Universal Jobmatch, the same number of Jobcentre workers would not be able to make even the most cursory checks of what people actually did. Automated monitoring is meant to reduce the amount of time advisors spend with their clients and that holds even before those ridiculous requirements come into force.

There is a possibility that Universal Jobmatch is equipped with some sophisticated artificial intelligence to monitor what people do but this possibility is quite slim. The website is provided by Monster Worldwide, Inc. and is basically a copy of their commercial service monster.co.uk with a coat of DWP paint applied. Not only that, but the DWP has a track record of failure in IT projects, including the IT system behind Universal Credit which is simply not working, and this catastrophic failure is the main reason for the ongoing delay to the implementation of the new benefit. It is not likely that under such conditions any sophisticated monitoring was built in to Universal Jobmatch.

If it is unlikely that someone will find work through the site, and not very likely that their job applications are monitored properly, does it matter what they apply for? As long as they fulfil whatever requirements the Jobcentre imposed on them, most likely it doesn't. If you are mandated to apply for four jobs a week, as long as they are not far away or wildly irrelevant to your skills, it doesn't matter which four jobs you apply for, or even if you read the job descriptions, write personalised covering letters, or anything else. Just click the button and off you go. Or have a robot click the button for you.

Universal Automation is that robot. It is a browser extension that will automatically search for jobs on Universal Jobmatch and apply for them. You can download and use the extension with Chrome browser on any operating system. You need to give it your Universal Jobmatch account details and job search parameters. Once that is done, it will perform the search you requested and try to apply to all jobs in search results. If you are interested, feel free to install the software and give it a go!