Working Paper 14/334 - Abstract

I've booked you a place. Good luck: a field experiment applying behavioural science to improve attendance at high-impact recruitment events (PDF, 230kB)

Michael Sanders and Elspeth Kirkman 

Finding a job, especially in a recovering economy, is challenging and success is reliant upon effective job-search activity.  Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) welfare benefit claimants in the United Kingdom have many competing options available to them in terms of how they direct their efforts in looking for work.  Often it is hard to determine which is most productive.  Unsurprisingly, Jobcentres – the organisations that support JSA claimants during their unemployment – themselves have very strong links to the labour market.  For example, they are often invited to run recruitment events in direct partnership with large employers seeking to hire in bulk.  At Bedford Jobcentre, we observe that, despite the relatively high likelihood of gaining work from attending such events, jobseeker attendance rates are still low and, instead, we can only assume that jobseekers may be taking part in less productive work search activities.  This paper reports the results of a randomised control trial designed to test the effectiveness of mobile phone text messaging in compelling jobseekers in the Bedford area to attend such events.  Tailored text messages are found to significantly increase the likelihood of attendance.  We find text messages to be particularly effective when they evoke a sense of reciprocity in the recipient.