It started as such a good idea. There was a problem with unemployment so the Department of Work and Pensions decided to outsource a job board to the people who really know job boards – Monster.co.uk was the obvious choice. Monster took the decision early on to allow as many jobs as possible and leave the door open to as many people submitting positions as was feasible.
This was a good idea because human beings are intrinsically honest and nothing ever goes wrong on the Internet, there are no scams or jokers and it would all be taken terribly seriously. Anyone not in the know about this particular site will have realized that the second paragraph up there is written with more than a little sarcasm. The Guardian is now reporting (http://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/mar/16/dwp-jobs-website-universal-jobsmatch) that the Universal Jobmatch site, which is the official DWP job site, is to be scrapped following abuses. It won’t vanish for two years as this is when the contract expires but the smart money says it’s going.
The abuses took two forms. First there were the fun ones: the Guardian reports that someone put a notice up advertising a “target elimination specialist” for MI6, for example. This is no worse than the wag who, a few years ago, edited Tony Blair’s Wikipedia entry to say his middle name was “Whoop-De-Do”; it happened and was duly taken down, we all had a giggle and there was no more to be said.
However, the more serious rot has been setting in. Job links leading to pornographic websites were published. A small minority were put up and were actually fraudulent, asking for money for nonexistent criminal record checking. Earlier this month, says the Guardian, the site had one fifth of its job listings removed because they did not abide by the rules. The DWP, however, has been left in a position of not being certain how many genuine jobs are actually listed on the site.
This wouldn’t be such an embarrassment if it wasn’t compulsory. The DWP has required tens of thousands of people to sign up to the site or have their benefits cut off as if they weren’t serious about finding a job.
Monster, a US company, has been an expert in the job board market for two decades. It has a substantial track record of success but is currently asking for almost £1m to clear the existing job board of fake and repeated ads.
We predict this one will run for a while – and all because someone failed to spot that the Internet, unfettered, tends to bring out the scammers and the jokers.