It makes a change to have a positive story about jobcentres. Often all we hear is that unemployment rates are up and more and more people are having to join the dole queue. But a recent study into a group of jobseekers in Essex has shown less paperwork for jobseekers improves their prospects of getting off the dole.

The study also showed that having JobCentre Plus advisers work with jobseekers to build confidence meant they were nearly 20% more likely to get a job within 13 weeks of signing on. 

A team of academics that make up the government’s Behavioural Insight Team, also known as the nudge unit, worked with a jobcentre in Loughton. The techniques they used are now being introduced at other job centres across Essex and also in the north-east of England, after it was found that people who benefited from this change in procedure were 17.5% more likely to be employed after 13 weeks on JSA.

The changes include having the number of forms to sign at the first appointment cut from nine to just two. At every other appointment, instead of just being asked what they had done in the last two weeks to look for work, jobseekers were asked what they hoped to achieve in the following week and encouraged to write a commitment to work towards that goal. Advisers at the centre were also encouraged to build the confidence of people who were still jobhunting after eight weeks rather than acting like they were failures.

Jobseekers were asked to write their commitments in a way that is supported by behavioural psychology theories, making sure they were specific and included how people wanted to achieve their goals and setting timeframes.

The Loughton jobcentre created a website to help those who were still claiming after eight weeks to identify their personality strengths, and encourage them to think of ways to apply those strengths to job applications.

It’s also been found that writing could increase your chances of getting a job. In a separate study, jobseekers who spent 10 to 15 minutes on an expressive writing exercise where they wrote about a traumatic experience were twice as likely to have a job after six months, even though they didn’t make any more applications than other jobseekers.

What’s your experience of jobcentres been like? How helpful were the staff? Did you find they helped to build your confidence or if you were claiming jobseekers’ allowance for a while did they treat you like a failure? We’d love to know your experiences so get in touch on Twitter, Facebook or drop us a line in the comments section below.