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Unemployment Insurance Job Search Requirements Explained

Unemployment Insurance Job Search Requirements Explained

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Why You Should Start Your Job Search Now

About 20 million Americans are currently receiving unemployment benefits. In some states, they stand to lose them if they don’t actively search for work. That’s because some states have reimposed work search requirements that were waived in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Fortunately, job search activities can be safe and socially distant in ZipRecruiter’s online employment marketplace. While the requirements can be fairly minimal, unemployed Americans can find better opportunities and speed up their return to work by going beyond what’s required and really ‘leaning in’ during their job search process. 

Active Work Search Requirements

Work search requirements differ across states. But typically, they involve job seekers making a minimum of between one (in Delaware) and five (in Florida) “work search contacts” per week with employers who might reasonably be expected to have openings. 

States also typically require claimants to fill out a “work search log.” Some states require claimants to submit those logs weekly or monthly, whereas others require that claimants keep them on file in their own records for one year with the expectation that they may be requested at any time. 

Examples of Active Work Search

There are several kinds of activities that qualify as work search activities for the purpose of maintaining eligibility for unemployment benefits. Each state’s unemployment handbook provides specific details. But qualifying activities typically include: 

  • Applying for a job online (on ZipRecruiter or through a state job board), in person, or by mail
  • Registering for work and reemployment services with a state career center
  • Interviewing with potential employers in person, by phone, or by video (whether on-demand or live)
  • Registering for work with private staffing agencies
  • Attending job search seminars, career networking meetings, or job fairs 

Meeting Work Search Requirements is Easier Now than Ever Before 

The coronavirus pandemic has made face-to-face job search activities more challenging. Many stores and offices are closed, and transportation options may be limited, making it harder to make in-person visits to employers. 

But online and mobile job search have dramatically expanded since the last recession and are easier now than ever before. ZipRecruiter’s smart matching technology, for example, simplifies and improves the job search experience for millions of people every month in a number of ways: 

  • Speed. Once job seekers create their profiles, our powerful matching algorithm creates instant matches between job seekers and nearby jobs using information about a job seeker’s skills and location. It then sends a notification to the matched candidate encouraging them to apply quickly. Employers may also reach out to the job seeker directly, inviting them to apply.
  • Transparency. Job seekers are informed when their resume has been viewed or has been rated ‘thumbs up’ by a hiring manager.
  • Opportunity. ZipRecruiter helps job seekers ladder into jobs and industries they may not have considered by mapping transferable skills and matching them to jobs accordingly.
  • Mobile first. We have optimized our job search product for mobile, which is increasingly the platform of choice for job seekers. ZipRecruiter is the #1 rated-job search app on iOS & Android.

Why Every Unemployed American Should be Searching for a Job Right Now

Close to half of states have now reinstated their work search requirements. Even before the requirements go into effect, however, there could be benefits to beginning your search early. 

Job seekers who are active, engaged, and responsive now will have a distinct advantage over those who wait and rejoin the labor market when it is more competitive. That’s because job search intensity has been fairly low since COVID-19 outbreaks began in the U.S. 

The pandemic made some forms of work more dangerous, public transit risks and restrictions made getting to work more difficult, and school closures made business as usual untenable for many working parents. Expanded unemployment benefits also eased the pressures on unemployed workers to find new jobs immediately.  

Furthermore, the vast majority of people who lost their jobs were on temporary layoff and didn’t see a need to find something new because they expected to go back to their old jobs. 

A year into the crisis, however, many temporary layoffs have turned permanent. And it is becoming clear that other temporary layoffs will last longer than initially expected. With many layoffs likely to outlast unemployment benefits, workers will need to find new opportunities—even if only in the interim. And while the current labor market environment is tough for job seekers, we expect it will only grow more competitive in the coming months. 

Work Search Requirements by State

Details are up-to-date as of publication on April 7, 2021. Updates will be made periodically.

Department NameState Job Search SiteMinimum Required Number of Job Search Contacts and/or Activities per WeekDate Job Search Requirement Reinstated
Alabama Department of LaborAlabama Works1 contactJanuary 1, 2021
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce DevelopmentAlaska Jobs2 contacts if you live within 55 road miles of a job center. 1 contact if you live 55+ road miles from a job center.
Arizona Department of Economic SecurityAZ Job Connection4 days
Arkansas Department of Workforce ServicesAR Job LinkAn assigned number of contactsJune 28, 2020
California Employment Development DepartmentCalJOBS2 contacts
Colorado Department of Labor and EmploymentConnecting Colorado5 contacts if living in CO; 3 contacts if outside of COFebruary 1, 2021
Connecticut Department of LaborCTHires3 contacts on 2 separate days
Delaware Department of LaborDelaware Job Link1 contact
District of Columbia
District of Columbia Department of Employment ServicesDC Jobs2 contacts
Florida Department of Economic OpportunityEmploy Florida5 contactsJanuary 2, 2021
Georgia Department of LaborEmploy Georgia3 contacts
Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial RelationsHireNet Hawaii3 contacts
Idaho Department of LaborIdaho Works2 contactsApril 25, 2021
Illinois Department of Employment SecurityIllinois Job Link2 contacts
Indiana Department of Workforce DevelopmentIndiana Career Connect1 contact
Iowa Workforce DevelopmentIowa Works2 contactsSeptember 8, 2020
Kansas Department of LaborKansas Works3 contacts, at least 2 of which must be applications
Kentucky Career Center Office of Unemployment InsuranceKentucky Job NetworkNot specified
Louisiana Workforce CommissionLouisiana Job Connection3 contactsAugust 9, 2020
Maine Department of LaborMaine JobLinkNot specifiedAugust 9, 2020
Maryland Department of LaborMaryland Workforce Exchange Jobs3 contacts
Massachusetts Department of Unemployment AssistanceMassCareers3 contacts
Michigan Department of Labor and Economic OpportunityMichigan Talent Connect2 contacts
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic DevelopmentMinnesota JobsNot specified
Mississippi Department of Employment SecurityMississippi Works3 contacts, at least 1 of which is an applicationAugust 9, 2020
Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial RelationsMoJobs3 contactsJuly 5, 2020
Montana Department of Labor and IndustryMontana Works1 contact
Nebraska Department of LaborNE Works5 contactsJuly 12, 2020
Nevada Department of Employment Training and RehabilitationEmploy NevadaNot specifiedMay 1, 2021
New Hampshire
New Hampshire Department of Employment SecurityJobs in NHNot specified
New Jersey
New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce DevelopmentNew Jersey Career Connections2 contacts
New Mexico
New Mexico Department of Workforce SolutionsNew Mexico Workforce Connection2 contacts
New York
New York Department of LaborNY Hire Now3 contacts
North Carolina
North Carolina Department of CommerceNC Works3 contactsMarch 14, 2021
North Dakota
North Dakota Job ServiceNorth Dakota Job ServiceNot specifiedJuly 26, 2020
Ohio Department of Job and Family ServicesOhio Job Network2 contactsDecember 5, 2020
Oklahoma Employment Security CommissionOK Job Match2 contactsOctober 25, 2020
Oregon Employment DepartmentWorkSource Oregon2 direct employer contacts; 3 additional work search activities
Pennsylvania Department of Labor and IndustryPennsylvania CareerLink2 contacts
Rhode Island
Rhode Island Department of Labor and TrainingEmploy RI3 contacts
South Carolina
South Carolina Department of Employment and WorkforceSC Works2 contactsApril 18, 2021
South Dakota
South Dakota Department of Labor and RegulationSouth Dakota Works2 activitiesAugust 2, 2020
Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce DevelopmentJobs 4 TN3 contactsOctober 4, 2020
Texas Workforce CommissionWork in TexasAn assigned number of contactsNovember 1, 2020
Utah Department of Workforce ServicesJobs Utah4 contactsAugust 15, 2020
Vermont Department of LaborThink VT3 contacts
Virginia Employment CommissionVirginia Workforce Connection2 contactsJune 1, 2021
Washington Employment Security DepartmentWork Source WA3 contactsSeptember 1, 2020
West Virginia
Workforce West VirginiaWorkforce West VirginiaNot specified
Wisconsin Department of Workforce DevelopmentJob Center of Wisconsin4 contactsFebruary 6, 2021
Wyoming Department of Workforce ServicesWyoming at Work2 contactsAugust 9, 2020

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