Universal Jobmatch now automatically records clicking an external link as a job application made

The UK Government’s Universal Jobmatch web site, that it forces the Unemployed to register on, is now automatically recording someone clicking on a link taking you to an external site as applying for the job.

This is a new feature that has not been publicly announced to its users and means that this not only generates a records on people’s job application histories automatically, without their knowledge/realisation, but more importantly, before the application is actually made, and quite possibly therefore before someone decides not to apply for the job, thereby making such an entry a complete falsehood.

The sneaked out change affects jobs entered onto the system that redirect people to an external web site. Importantly, the system used to merely redirect people to those web sites to apply, but now uses the fact that the button states “apply” as an excuse to record it as an application made, before someone actually does so.

People are therefore happily clicking these links to view jobs externally without realising that their application history now records this as an application made – when it did not before.

For people unfamiliar with Universal Jobmatch, there is a fully automated Application History, that records e.g. applications you make for jobs using the site, so you would be aware of having made such an application.

There is also an Activity History, where jobseekers manually record their job search, including jobs applied for on Universal Jobmatch.

These are separate facilities and it is the latter that jobseekers tend to use, so many will not be aware that the Application History is now recording these external link clicks as actual applications – because it has not been announced, and you will only realise it if you happen to check the Application History, which was only recording actual applications made on Universal Jobmatch.

People do not necessarily apply for these jobs when they click these link buttons to view the job elsewhere. A classic example is where a job description has been entered so badly into Universal Jobmatch (e.g. with no punctuation or paragraphs – this happens), that people merely click the apply button in order to read the job description from the web page it originally came from.

The DWP is evidently using the fact that the button actually says “apply” as an excuse to count this as an application made.

The system records this as an application made “offsite”.

Now move on some time and a jobseeker’s record is being reviewed by an advisor and they ask about such a job. The jobseeker is dumbfounded and doesn’t know what the advisor is talking about.

The system has recorded a job application that the jobseeker may not have made. In the current climate of benefit stoppages and sanctions, this is something that can clearly be used as an excuse to sanction a jobseeker.

The DWP – and The Government – are probably breaking the law, however. Data Protection states that, “Personal data shall be accurate and, where necessary, kept up to date”. Clearly where a system is in place and recording a job application prior to any such being made, or even being decided upon to be made, is clearly going to make false entries onto jobseekers application histories, at least some of the time.

In any event, these entries appear before any application is actually made – so they are not correct when they are made.

To get around this, you should be able to right-click on the apply button and select the option to open the link in another browser page/tab.

However, many users will have already developed the habit of clicking the link to go to the external site to merely view the application, and other users are simply not very IT literate.

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