JobCentre Plus for Employers: A Strategic Guide

What is the Jobcentre?

The Jobcentre, or Jobcentre Plus, is a dying UK institution and part of the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). It used to have offices nationwide where social security benefit claimants would have to attend and demonstrate they were looking for work. This meant that many claimants made job applications simply to get unemployment benefits. From my experience, this inevitably meant many applicants sleepwalk their way into an interview, with some intentionally making a lacklustre attempt to secure employment.

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Unemployment benefits have now changed, with many people unable to claim if they have any savings. Additionally, many job centres have closed as part of “modernisation”, where the focus has moved online. Therefore, the Jobcentre is now a shadow of its former self.

Which businesses should use the Jobcentre?

The Jobcentre has a reputation for being used by employers with the following characteristics:

  • Those with limited recruitment budgets: Because the Jobcentre offers free job advertising, it is attractive to businesses with limited recruitment budgets. (This is slightly worrying because there are so many good-value recruitment alternatives, and it does beg the question of how they can afford to pay their staff!)
  • Those sectors with high staff turnover: Some employers simply use the Jobcentre as a “quick fix” rather than fixing an underlying staff turnover issue.
  • Those with blue-collar roles: Most roles advertised by the Jobcentre offer driving, warehouse, and manufacturing jobs.
  • Those requiring temporary or seasonal workers: The Jobcentre might provide a quick and cost-effective way to fill these positions.

The above list may seem disparaging to a small group of employers who need cheap solutions to fill jobs because staff keep leaving. Based on 25 years of experience in recruitment, this is quite accurate. But to provide some balance, I should highlight that a minority of companies aim to support the long-term unemployed, so they might choose to use the Jobcentre.

What type of jobs can you fill using the Jobcentre?

The Jobcentre is particularly suited for filling certain types of jobs:

  • Blue-collar jobs: These include roles in manual labour or skilled trades, such as warehouse, construction workers, tradespeople, mechanics, and factory workers.
  • Driving and delivery jobs: This category includes positions like delivery drivers, truck drivers, and courier services, which is particularly appealing to those with driving licences and wanting more independent work settings.
  • Retail and customer service jobs: Retail stores, call centres, and other customer service environments.
  • Hospitality and catering jobs: These include chefs, kitchen assistants, waitstaff, and baristas in hotels, restaurants, bars, and catering services.
  • Temporary or seasonal jobs: The Jobcentre is a helpful resource for employers needing to fill temporary or seasonal positions, such as holiday retail staff or agricultural workers during harvest seasons.

When would employers use the Jobcentre?

Because the Jobcentre is often used by employers with high staff turnover, they usually find themselves perpetually using the service, consistently advertising.

Employers new to the Jobcentre could trial advertising an appropriate job at the beginning of their recruitment campaign.

How much does it cost to advertise with the Jobcentre? Time vs money

Advertising with the Jobcentre is technically free in monetary terms, which initially appears attractive to employers. However, it’s crucial to consider the broader indirect costs:

  • Time investment: One of the most significant costs is the time spent managing applications, many of which may not be suitable for the role (particularly if they’ve been encouraged to apply for benefits). Sifting through these applications to identify viable candidates can be time-intensive, translating to a cost for the business in terms of hours spent.
  • Recruitment challenges: Experience shows a higher proportion of applicants from the Jobcentre either do not respond to communications, fail to show up for interviews, or accept a job offer but do not start the position. Each scenario wastes time and resources that could have been allocated elsewhere.
  • Quality of candidates: Fewer applicants will be Great Performers. This could lead to hiring employees who might not meet the expected performance standards, thereby incurring costs related to poor productivity, increased management oversight, and potentially frequent turnover.
  • Long-term financial impacts: Over time, the cumulative effect of failing to recruit Great Performers can be substantial. Frequent hiring of Poor Performers impacts training, rehiring, and reduces productivity.

Do employers have any guarantees when using the Jobcentre?

Because the Jobcentre is a free resource, it does not offer formal guarantees of successfully filling a job.

How to advertise with the Jobcentre

A key feature of the Jobcentre is that it’s free to advertise jobs and operates like an online job site. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it:

  • Register as an employer: The first step is to register with the Jobcentre as an employer. This can typically be done online through the Jobcentre Employer Direct service or a similar platform managed by the UK Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
  • Create a job advert: Once registered, create a job posting. Provide details about the job, such as the job title, description, location, salary, type of contract (full-time, part-time, temporary, etc.), and any specific requirements or qualifications needed.
  • Submit for review: The Jobcentre may review the job listing to ensure it meets its guidelines and standards. This ensures the job is legitimate, fairly described, and meets legal employment standards. Often, this is a formality for new employers, and subsequent job adverts are immediately approved.
  • Approval and posting: Once your job listing is approved, it will be posted on the Jobcentre’s online job board.
  • Communicate with applicants: The Jobcentre’s online system typically allows employers to receive applications and communicate with applicants directly. This can include reviewing applications, shortlisting candidates, and arranging interviews.
  • Ongoing management: You can manage your job listings, update them, or remove them when the positions are filled, all through the same online system.

Tips: I adapt my recruitment process slightly:

  1. Telephone Interviews (discussed in chapter 10) are even more important to avoid time-wasters. While I may typically make a few attempts to contact applicants, I reject them if they don’t respond after one text, one voicemail, and one email.
  2. When arranging interviews (outlined in chapter 10), I am very assertive, don’t accept excuses for being late, and don’t give second chances.
  3. At the interview, I make a simple point, “You won’t have to beg me to get paid on time. Therefore, I won’t beg you to turn up on time and do your job. Do you understand?”
  4. Finally, when performance-managing them (see chapter 20), I dismiss them much sooner. I won’t tolerate anyone who compromises the company culture and values and doesn’t meet reasonable standards.
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Geoff Newman has dedicated his entire career to recruitment. He has consulted for many well-known international brands, and worked with over 20,000 growing businesses. He has helped fill over 100,000 jobs.

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We literally wrote the book on...

The secrets of great recruitment

The Secrets of Great Recruitment is a top-seller. It is easy to read and wastes no time in giving powerful actionable strategies you can use straight away.

Book cover for The Secrets of Great Recruitment