This is Ipswich Unemployed Action’s guide to Universal Jobmatch.
Universal Jobmatch Guide for Jobseekers
- Motive – Why Universal Jobmatch?
- Comparison – between Directgov Jobsearch and Universal Jobmatch
- Monster – Who developed the website
- Universal Jobmatch – Getting to grips with the interface
- Privacy concerns – What happens to your CV and collected data
- Sanctions – Lose your only income for complying with Jobcentre Plus requests
- Benefit Fraud – False allegations and investigations
Why Universal Jobmatch?
Universal Jobmatch is the revolution in the state-owned and run job service… over a decade later, HM Government through DWP has decided, (regardless of being in a recession) to spend tens of millions of pounds of taxpayers money revamping the old website, to include CV matching to help you find work by uploading a CV without the need to Actively Seek Employment…
Actually, despite the marketing hype, the actual motive is as follows:-
- Jobseeker Tracking. To track peoples jobseeking efforts.
- Benefit Fraud Resolution. Investigating people whose CV has a different employment history then the record Jobcentre Plus has. Meaning those who have lied on their CV to stand more of a chance getting work by extending employment periods (maybe by just a week or few) will be investigated for Benefit Fraud – put under surveillance and telephone bugged.
- Benefit Sanctioning. Universal Jobmatch has a very convenient feature where people can set themselves up for a sanction without knowing it. (Leave the feedback feature alone)
- Make jobseekers accept any jobs. DWP have removed specific location details (to a postcode district at a glance) and a precise postcode via Transport Direct so jobseekers could see if they could make it to work via public transport (if they don’t have a car/driving licence). Furthermore, working hours (and working patterns) have been replaced with just “Fulltime” and “Part time” – 30 hours or more being fulltime and less than 30 hours being part time. Fulltime indication is sufficient for many whereas part time could mean 29 hours or 2 hours, requiring jobseeker having to apply for the job to find out (i.e. they couldn’t turn down the job, if they later got offered it).
- Nanny State. Through Government Gateway, the Government wants to assign everyone a code, similar to a NI number… but by doing this they can claim it in itself doesn’t constitute “personal data” although will be linked to other relevant details such as NI number and NHS number… in addition to your name and address, and of course passport number and driving licence number (where applicable).
Universal Jobmatch happens to be the first major step implementation for the Universal Credit.
Cookies… but with no milk… (the digital kind!)
Snippet from “All About Cookies”:-
What is a cookie?
The two main types of cookies are session based and persistent cookies. Universal Jobmatch uses more of the latter type of cookies which in a nutshell means the cookies remain on your computer after you close your web browser – duration can vary, whereas session based cookies get deleted.
Although you are free to delete the cookies manually after each session, this defeats the object. The cookie served its purpose in that session and the data would be stored on the server – likely in a database. Thus each time you visit and do this, the server can obtain anonymised data and make assumptions from your input (such as postcode or location) and the invisible data your computer sends to the website which includes IP address, town name (through geolocation technology, usually by IP address), hostname, browser, operating system and screen size.
i.e. ~ (just an example) ~
Session 1… a cookie created with the ID 04564893 tracks your browser throughout your job searching … your IP 123.456.789.123 postcode AB98 1YZ job retail … you delete
Session 2… a new cookie created with the ID 03456893
tracks your browser throughout your job searching … your IP 123.456.789.123 postcode AB98 1YZ job retail … you delete
Your IP, postcode and job types are the same… there is the history pattern-based link. If you have a dynamic IP address (i.e. it changes) then its more difficult to track. However, a jobseeker using the site twice a week, allowing cookies then deleting manually at end of the session, is likely to build up an unobvious profile by a few months time.
How this is a BIG problem
Cookies on Universal Jobmatch are issued and assigned to your computer even when you are not logged in to track your whereabouts and actions. When you do log in this data can then be attributed to your account – despite such computer usage not necessarily being by you (such as public computers in internet cafes and family computers shared between the family). Some cookies are assigned for 120 months (10 years)!
When we tested the site… without logging in… we got 15 cookies… (thats around 75% of the maximum permitted cookies a single website domain may have) and this is without any preferences options being changed (i.e. larger font sizes etc.) So not a single cookie was necessary for a quick anonymous job search… indeed it wasn’t anonymous at all!
The assigned codes to track you can be compared to say… your National Insurance number, NHS number, Government Gateway ID number, passport number, credit card number, car registration numberplate (assuming you are registered owner), membership number or a user ID. By itself it doesn’t say anything to confirm who you are… but this is unique to you and assigned to your personal data. Thus for instance when searched in a database can reveal all information about you known and stored for such purpose. Many people will compare this to human DNA… being unique to the particular person.
In addition they use semi-personal tracking techniques… this is data like your full post code. This is less able to identify you… but not exactly rocket science… i.e. how many jobseekers who live in AB12 3CD, are registered unemployed, looking for this particular kind of work, uses this web browser, and has this same IP? Oh its probably Dave who registered 5 months ago and logged in last week… has the same IP and lives in the same postcode…. Yes, its not a certainty but its more probable than not to reveal either a direct match or a few people maximum… should be called Universal JobseekerMatch. This just goes to show that this data would be assumed and could quite simply be incorrect, giving the wrong person a benefit sanction, for example.
Universal Jobmatch uses Server Sessions, VIEWSTATE (previous search data carried over from one page to the next) and Cookies. There is nothing stopping a unique cookie tracking identifier being assigned retrospectively to previously obtained data through Server Sessions (from browser/IP data to activity data) and of course vice versa.
Comparison between Directgov Jobsearch and Universal Jobmatch
Who (under)developed the website
Monster (Monster Worldwide Inc and its internationally subsidies) is a commercial “job search engine” with just over $1 billion of revenue in 2011.
It may initially sound a safe bet and sensible to choose Monster… after all they are a large business with vast experience, however, in 2007 in less than 2 weeks Monster lost millions of customer data due to numerous data leaks. In 2009, the UK based site monster.co.uk was hacked and 4.5 million peoples data was stolen. These led to tens of thousands of cases of ID theft and phishing attacks to fraudulently obtain bank details to steal money.
I don’t know about you, but I would say that the next data leak/hack is overdue… now the Government owned website… is more of a political target for hackers to do the same.
5. Universal Jobmatch
Getting to grips with the interface
*** We recommend you simply to use another job search website… seriously. ***
Location, Location, Location… where though exactly?
The first issue is the location details. What once was “LOCATION LOCATION AB12” is now the nearest biggest place.
Notice how many jobs are in London? (Just a part of one page) Its a rather big place… has good transport links… but even so!
Part Time or Fulltime
There is no specific show of hours or work patterns. Fulltime is 30 hours or more. Part Time is 1-29 hours.
Part Time work can be a problem… (the salary is a give away on this one, although incorrect)
Is it 29 hours?
You should be so lucky! Its only 6 hours per week. Most job adverts wont state the duration, so consider yourself lucky (most you have to “Apply” just to enquire) and don’t….
Do not “select”, do not press “Submit”… otherwise, do not pass Go and do not collect £200!
This is to sanction you. A human will NOT decide your case. Its automated. You can appeal but you will lose your money first.
6. Privacy concerns
What happens to your CV and collected data
Its not yet known the specific ins and outs of what data is collected, how its stored and who sees it.
What we do know is too much information is being requested and tracking (serverside and clientside – cookies) is being undertaken.
We also know the terms and conditions disclaim them from blame of any hack of your data (not good for confidence) and says they reserve the right to sell the data should they sell their company.
Lose your only income for complying with Jobcentre Plus requests
Sad, but true.. most JSA claimants are very submissive and just do whatever Jobcentre Plus directs them to do without thinking twice. They just want to jump through the hoops to get their sole income source and focus on jobsearching!
Jobcentre Plus is now requesting jobseekers to kindly give feedback as to why they never applied.
Brilliant idea to give feedback for employers to improve their job adverts in the future and for Jobcentre Plus to improve their quality of employers and job advertisements.
But wait… this web form is connected up to an automated sanction doubt system… Giving feedback could cost your benefits!!
8. Benefit Fraud
False allegations and investigations
Its the 21st Century, more jobs than ever request a CV (typically digitally) than Application Forms, and unemployment is so very high… many people chasing the same jobs.
Soo… some jobseekers are going to fudge and pad their CV. Converting that 9 month job and 6 month unemployment to 12 month job and 3 months gap. Changing that “Shop Assistant” job title to “Assistant Manager” because despite the low pay, you regularly covered for the manager more times than not and was a key-holder.
Hold on a minute… this doesn’t match Jobcentre Plus records… if you are lucky to escape a benefit sanction for hindering your chances to find work.. its likely you will be reported for being a benefit fraudster. This could involve being watched in the street and recorded by DWP officials and having your telephone (perhaps even internet usage these days) intercepted.