I've booked you a place, good luck: Applying behavioral science to improve attendance at high-impact job recruitment events

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Michael Sanders
Elspeth Kirkman


Labor market, Employment, Field experiment, Reciprocity, Personalization


Finding a job, especially in a recovering or uncertain economy, is challenging. 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. Jobcentres, the organizations that support job seekers, have very strong links to the labor market and often run recruitment events in direct partnership with large employers seeking to hire in bulk. Attendance at these events, or any other specific job search activity, is typically low. This article reports the results of a randomized control trial designed to test the effectiveness of mobile phone text messaging in compelling jobseekers 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 seek to induce reciprocity and address low morale in the recipient. 

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