I have been looking for work and have had many rejections of late. Because no jobs are in sight I registered as unemployed yesterday. I am actively looking for full-time work and have the time to do a full-time job. I was immediately told by an adviser that in 3 months they'll consider placements for me and make me do voluntary work. Had they checked the information I gave them they would know I had genuinely applied for jobs.

Can they do this? I certainly don't mind doing voluntary work and have done in the past but can I not arrange this myself? I already feel harrassed by them and I've done nothing wrong!


Yep, I had this but it was after I finished my Bsc. I think they that just to make you look for jobs thinking that everyone on unemployment lines are unskilled, unqualified people- in actual fact more and more people with quailifications are on job-seekers allowance!

Can they do it? Yes, they do check occasionally. I think it's to make people apply more than anything!


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I'm not sure what the current rules for job-seekers allowance is, I had to go on it after I finished my BSc (~7 years ago), whilst looking for a PhD and a job to tide me over until I got one. At that time they told me I had to keep records of the jobs I'd applied for and show them to them, I think you had to show them that you'd applied for about 3 suitable jobs every couple of weeks. The problem is what they deem suitable, as has been mentioned the job centres don't seem to know what to do with people with degrees, they seem to be more suited to finding people 'unskilled' jobs.

I would read up on the current rules online, and find out what they need to know, meanwhile keep applying for jobs and don't expect much help from them in finding a job that you want. Good luck.


Thanks for responding. Hopefully, I'll get a job sooner rather than later...

Avatar for Mackem_Beefy

======= Date Modified 12 Oct 2011 12:29:45 =======
I've had two significant spells of 5 months and 10 months on the dole. The second spell was a few years ago after my second post-doc. The shorter spell was way back after my first degree.

This is roughly what I was to expect (though I never got to stage 5):

1) 2 job applications a week regardless of your qualifications, from newspapers, booths in the job centre or the job centre plus website;
2) Sign on once a fortnight, during which you're expected in the form of a diary to show what jobs you've applied for - it is useful to add to diary entries whether you have had interviews and how far you got;
3) At the 15 week mark, you'll be expected to sign on weekly for 6 weeks;
4) At the 6 month mark, there will be a 6 week period during which the dole may ring you at home during 'reasonable' (i.e. their) working hours - you may be offered a couple of positions to apply for and your are expected to apply or at least prove you've contacted the company about the position;
5) After 1 year, you will be placed on 'Action for Jobs', essentially a 3 month placement to gain you works experience for dole plus £10 a week to cover travel costs;
6) The whole sequence begins again.

You will be called in for interview every three months and you will be expected to take any application letters with you for the previous three months to show you have actually applied for the jobs. The staff reserve the right to contact companies to show you have actually sent any applications.

I also got £100 when I signed off (clothing / transport allowance to get me going again), though this might be cut with the current auserity measures. You might find if you've not been a tax payer for a while that you don't pay income tax until you have been paid so much in wages (can't remember the threshold).

I applied for 5 to 9 jobs a week for 10 months.

The above is reset to the beginning at any stage you have to sign yourself off the dole for sickness (and yes, this can be abused - don't even think it!!!).

I note you were hesitating over submitting your thesis in a previous post. If your supervisors are happy, get it submitted as it's one less distraction. Do not find yourself in the situation where you struggle to meet the dole's terms and conditions because your thesis is in the way.

The whole process for me was literally soul destroying. They do not differentiate on the basis of qualifications and definitely do not know how to handle graduates.

Best of luck, Delta, hopefully it won't be too long for you.

Ian (Mackem_Beefy)


The worst thing is having to put up with advisor meetings. I have very recent experiance of the job centre (since I'm going to sign off in 2 days before starting my PhD), and the advisor meetings are what frustrated me to no end.

They're not advisors at all and will have no idea what your qualifications mean. Instead, they will give you lots of irrelivant jobs and tell you to apply for them, even if you try to explain there are actually plenty of jobs in your feild (as I did...but of course, he had no idea what scientists do).

I was told to apply to be an admin assistant at a local technical college because I had "been a student and therefore may like to work with students", and I was also told to apply for a bank position, lol. Completly useless.

I don't mean to rant. It's not as bad going there as it used to be as there are many decent people having to sign on, so the dodgy types are pretty dilute and thus it is slightly less soul-destroying. Last I knew the placements started at 6 months, but maybe they've changed it. The placement thing is a joke. You do full time hours but only get jobseekers allowance. Hopefully you won't have to get to that point.


This all sounds very horrible and very soul destroying but good to know.

Thanks! I think...


Hi Delta

You probably know all this already but ----

Keep a careful record of any phone calls you make, spec approaches to employers etc.  This is so that you can show the efforts you are making.

Alas, you are by no means alone.  There is a huge number of really talented people looking for work at the moment.

One thing about taking a job that you might not want to stay in long term, say in admin or in a bank, even part time, is that once you have a job, it is easier to get another.

Hopefully things will pick up soon.




Hey Delta, I can only echo the points that others have made. I had to sign on during the write up of my PhD. I'm surprised that they're only giving you 3 months to find a job before they put you on a Work Programme. Usually, this happens after something like 12 months for over 25s (at least it did when I was signed on 6 months ago). There are 4 stages. You'll be on stage 1, which lasts for 13 weeks. You should be able to look for whatever jobs you want during this period. Stage 2 involves weekly signing on every week and a more 'focused' job search (i.e. what jobs they think that you should apply for). Eventually, you get to Stage 4 (New Deal), where they can make you take part in a mandatory work programme. I doubt it will get to this stage for you (even stage 3) because you should have employment by then.

I can really empathise. Going to Job Centre Plus can be a soul destroying experience for most people.

Here are some tips that I used to keep them off my back, while I found suitable employment (sorry if I repeat info provided below):

Keep a record of your job searches and jobs applied for.

Always apply for any jobs they print off for you in the job centre.

You only need to perform 3 positive job-seeking steps a week, so joining two agencies and applying for 1 job could be those steps for a week.

Never be late (they can be right shxts).

Try not to laugh at some of their advice. This one is a gem I was told: 'You should tell your friends you're looking for a job because they'll tell their friends and, by work of mouth, you could find a job' (could actually work in academia).

If you need to use any of the time unemployed for write up or to prepare for a job you really want (a bit naughty but I'm now a legal tax payer with hypocritical morals), then there are means and ways of making sure you don't get that call centre job...

For instance, on your speculative letter (this should get you straight on the reject pile for anything you are made to reply for and don't want):

Dear Miss Shuttlebottom,

I would like to apply for the position of Call Centre Agent.


Dr Walminski

And on the CV that you send:

Career Objective: Young, ambitious scholar interested in a rewarding career in academia (something along those lines)

Personal Interests: Husserlian Phenomenology (before it was ruined), particle physics, Michael Winner.

Obviously, don't do anything too outrageous because they'll penalise you for it.

Best of luck finding a job, Delta. I'm hopeful that something suited to you will come your way, sooner rather than later.


Thanks angelette and Wally. The write up is finished and I could submit at any time and will do very soon. I told them when the funding ended, that I was effectively finished but that I still had to hand it in and they seemed fine with that. I really do want a job and could start a full-time post tomorrow - there's just nothing out there. I took the PhD is the first place to dig myself out of unemployment hell and can't believe I'm back there again.

Thanks for the tips everyone.


Delta, I think you're really brave for going on the dole as I've been avoiding doing this for weeks!

All because... 'you wouldn't ask a painter to apply for a job as plumber would you? So why would you suggest me a job as a 'train conductor' to me when I'm a 'childminder'?' is something that accidentally came out of my mouth last time I was on it and it didn't go down very well then :$ oops

I might need to join you on the dole soon though so thank you for starting the thread (and thanks everyone for the tips!)


Hi Skig,

It's not a nice feeling but best to apply sooner rather than later. I have been unemployed a number of times in the past and haven't always claimed until I've ran out of money (and sometimes even then I've waited until I've run out of food or can't pay a bill) and it has seriously messed up my N.I. contributions and now I'm trying to pay them back as well. The way I see it, if I'm trying to get a job, which I am, then I am entitled to the money.


Hi Delta, thanks for that. I'll look into it!


I'm unemployed as well - but I haven't claimed anything because I'm not entitled to anything (have a partner who works, and no NI contributions...) :$. However, it doesn't stop the mother in law from going on about it constantly :p



Even if you're not entitled to benefits, ask if you can sign for your N.I. contributions. I just didn't want to face up to unemployment and so didn't even try to maintain my stamp, it's proving costly now!

May we all get jobs and soon!!!