Common sense and practical help

MyWorkSearch is a commercial organisation and without revenue we cannot continue to operate.  We know that our service helps people back into work however we unfortunately need to charge for usage.  For the past eighteen months thousands of job seekers have been provided with MyWorkSearch by Jobcentre Plus with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) paying us.  Our research reveals that over 60% of those enrolled secure new jobs within three months and the average time is 62 days.  Thus the government has in return for its payment helped a person to come off benefits and return to being a tax-payer.

This publicly funded provision has now come to an end and it is ironic that it has done so at a time when the DWP publishes a research report “Job Search Study: Literature review and analysis of the Labour Force Survey” which looks at the characteristics of job search and what works.  This 118 page document provides a wealth of statistics and observations, however it was four of them that really stood out for me.  None of them are a huge surprise however it is easy to lose sight of their importance.

The first is the authors’ observation that: “The majority of theoretical and empirical studies of job search date from a time either before the rise of the Internet or when its use for job search was less developed and widespread”.  The second is that between April and June 2009 over 80% of job seekers used the Internet to look for work.  In other words, the majority of ‘industry experts’, advisers, civil servants and ministers learnt their skills, developed methodologies and formed their opinions at a time when offline job search predominated.  Yet nowadays, across all demographics, online is the most likely activity with the bulk of adoption in the past several years.  Indeed given the growth of online that was being observed quarter by quarter leading up to this research, 2 year old 2009 data materially underestimates current usage.

The third area that was commented on was a person’s social network.  Across a broad spectrum of roles an extremely good source of employment is an individual’s contacts.  When an organisation is hiring it is often those connected with the vacancy who are best placed to know of the opportunity and suggest a potential recruit.  So individuals with a wide network of people who are positively disposed to them and who communicate their availability are far more likely to receive a timely and warm introduction to prospective employers.  Equally, those without networks or those whose network comprises fellow unemployed, are less likely to hear of and be recommended for opportunities.  Social networks can be local and personal, such as former colleagues, fellow school parents or neighbours.  They can also be online via the many network sites that exist.

The final area is self-efficacy.  People with self-belief in their own qualities and their likelihood to secure a job are far more likely to obtain employment.  This self-fulfilling positive approach is clearly harder to maintain the longer a job search takes or when a person comes from a community where unemployment is the norm.

All of the above pre-supposes the desire to find a job and this in itself cannot be taken for granted.  It also assumes possession of minimum skills to make the person employable.

There are not enough jobs out there for every person who needs one.  But there are jobs for many people who don’t have one and are looking for one.  Reading through this report confirms my knowledge that we are doing the right thing with MyworkSearch; it also frustrates the hell out of me that an obvious, inexpensive and effective service is being cut at a time when it is very much needed.

MyWorkSearch will continue to prosper with our other contracts and I am optimistic about the future.  However I do wish we could find a way to offer the service to every newly unemployed job seeker.  Hopefully some senior policy makers will read this DWP research report!