Pretty Simple: web, digital, social

Please note the title of this article is just a bad pun, and not a reference to the cookiemonster exploit attack.

Many Scottish authorities are in the process of transferring their vacancies to myjobscotland – a jobs portal allowing all Scottish Government employers to advertise and process their vacancies in one place. A great idea!

However, there is a problem – you can’t search for vacancies without cookies enabled:

No session cookie found.

Possible causes for this problem are:-

* You are viewing this page from within a frameset.
* Your browser security settings are blocking all cookies.

Now, although I appreciate the need for cookies in many situations, I really can’t see why they are required for a simple search. The site does offer functionality to create an account, sign up for job alerts and apply online, but you don’t have to do any of these things to just look up jobs.

This could seriously affect the ability of scores of users to access the jobs on offer. Many users will not know how to enable cookies, and even more will not have the admin permissions to do so. Many companies have strict security settings on their PC estates, for example, and publicly available terminals such as in internet cafes or libraries will often take similar precautions (I know the latter is true from personal experience).

Other sites – a quick test

As an exercise is comparison, I tested a number of other high-profile job sites to see if they demand that cookies be enabled to run a simple search:

  • Guardian jobs – no cookies required
  • Scotcareers – no cookies required
  • Monster – no cookies required
  • Total Jobs – no cookies required
  • Fish 4 Jobs – no cookies required
  • Jobcentre Plus – without cookies enabled the page does not load and gets stuck in a loop

Oh dear. The only other site to fail the cookies test was Jobcentre Plus – another Government website. That means that cookie-less users will have another window of opportunity well and truly slammed in their face.

Why cookies?

According to the Jobcentre Plus Privacy Policy:

We will not keep any personal information about you through devices such as “cookies”. Where you are making a job search, we may use a temporary “session cookie” to hold the search options you enter. Any information held in a “session cookie” will not be retained after you have completed your job search session.

Again, this makes sense in certain scenarios. Online shopping, for example, where you place items in a shopping basket. Without a session cookie (AKA transient cookie, meaning it is destroyed at the end of the session), these items would not be waiting for you at the checkout.

It makes far less sense for a simple site search, though, given that so many other sites don’t appear to require such cookies.

I’m told that myjobscotland are looking into the matter so updates here, as and when…

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4 Responses to The Cookie Monster strikes again

  1. elisabeth says:

    i am coming across this very problem today :-(
    Don’t know what i need to do to access.

    • James says:

      Is it the myjobscotland site you can’t access? To my knowledge nothing was ever done to resolve the problem, so I’d strongly recommend contacting them to complain. To get around the problem you’ll need to enable cookies in your browser, if you can.

  2. Mark says:

    I am having the same probelm with the Royal Mail job search site.I can get in if I use IE or my BT YAHOO account but it wont work with FIREFOX.

    Also what is a frameset?

    • James says:

      Hi Mark,

      A frameset is when a page is split into frames, with each frame being a unique file. This is pretty bad practice nowadays and can cause all sorts of problems. As far as I can see, though, the Royal Mail website is not based on frames. Have you tried contacting them about your search problems?

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