Job-hunters that apply through Employment Service have less chance of getting an interview

Job-seekers  that apply for a job of their own bat stand more chance of getting an interview than those whose application is sent on their behalf by the Flemish Employment and Vocational Training Service VDAB. That’s according to a study carried by the University of Ghent. Employers consider applicant that are referred to them by VDAB are less motivated, less intelligent, less sociable and more difficult to train.

To get job-seekers back to work VDAB obliges them to apply for jobs, the employment service then checks with the company to make sure that the job-seeker has sent in his/her application. This is done so that job-seekers that have failed to apply can be sanctioned as they would be then considered to not be making an effort to find work.  

In order to test the system the Ghent PhD student Eva Van Belle sent 5 fictitious job-seeker profiles to 205 HR departments. All the candidates had the correct profile, knowledge and capacities to be considered for a receptionist post. The companies were either standard companies, employment agencies or consultancy firms that had taken on at least 5 people over the past year. In some cases the researchers stated that the applicants were set by VDAB.    

Perception or reality?

The fictitious candidate hat had supposedly been referred by VDAB appeared to stand less chance of getting an interview than candidates with the same qualifications, experience… that had applied of their own bat. This appeared to have a greater influence in whether a candidate was called to interview than how long he/she had been unemployed.

Employers said that they consider candidates that have been told to apply by VDAB as being less motivated, less sociable, less intelligent and less easy to train.  

Ms Van Belle says that research needs to be carried out into whether it is indeed the case that candidates referred by VDAB are less motivated and whether the companies’ perception is based on their previous experiences.

"In the first case we should also look into whether the system of referral doesn’t lead to less motivation among applicants”.

The VDAB says that it is surprised by the study’s findings. The employment service’s spokeswoman Shaireen Aftab told VRT News that “A company doesn’t even have to know that a candidate has applied through us”.