Unemployment Insurance Job Search Requirements Explained

Why You Should Start Your Job Search Now

About 16 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

Over 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. 

Over 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 May 7, 2021. Updates will be made periodically.

Department Name State Job Search Site Minimum Required Number of Job Search Contacts and/or Activities per Week Date Job Search Requirement Reinstated
Alabama
Alabama Department of Labor Alabama Works 1 contact January 1, 2021
Alaska
Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development Alaska Jobs 2 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
Arizona Department of Economic Security AZ Job Connection 4 days May 23, 2021
Arkansas
Arkansas Department of Workforce Services AR Job Link An assigned number of contacts June 28, 2020
California
California Employment Development Department CalJOBS 2 contacts
Colorado
Colorado Department of Labor and Employment Connecting Colorado 5 contacts February 1, 2021
Connecticut
Connecticut Department of Labor CTHires 3 contacts on 2 separate days
Delaware
Delaware Department of Labor Delaware Job Link 1 contact
District of Columbia
District of Columbia Department of Employment Services DC Jobs 2 contacts
Florida
Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Employ Florida 5 contacts May 30, 2021
Georgia
Georgia Department of Labor Employ Georgia 3 contacts
Hawaii
Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations HireNet Hawaii 3 contacts
Idaho
Idaho Department of Labor Idaho Works 2 contacts April 25, 2021
Illinois
Illinois Department of Employment Security Illinois Job Link 2 contacts
Indiana
Indiana Department of Workforce Development Indiana Career Connect 1 contact June 1, 2021
Iowa
Iowa Workforce Development Iowa Works 2 contacts September 8, 2020
Kansas
Kansas Department of Labor Kansas Works 3 contacts, at least 2 of which must be applications
Kentucky
Kentucky Career Center Office of Unemployment Insurance Kentucky Job Network 1 contact May 9, 2021
Louisiana
Louisiana Workforce Commission Louisiana Job Connection 3 contacts August 9, 2020
Maine
Maine Department of Labor Maine JobLink Not specified May 23, 2021
Maryland
Maryland Department of Labor Maryland Workforce Exchange Jobs 3 contacts
Massachusetts
Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance MassCareers 3 contacts
Michigan
Michigan Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity Michigan Talent Connect 2 contacts
Minnesota
Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development Minnesota Jobs Not specified April 20, 2021
Mississippi
Mississippi Department of Employment Security Mississippi Works 3 contacts, at least 1 of which is an application August 9, 2020
Missouri
Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations MoJobs 3 contacts July 5, 2020
Montana
Montana Department of Labor and Industry Montana Works 1 contact June 27, 2021
Nebraska
Nebraska Department of Labor NE Works 5 contacts July 12, 2020
Nevada
Nevada Department of Employment Training and Rehabilitation Employ Nevada Not specified May 2, 2021
New Hampshire
New Hampshire Department of Employment Security Jobs in NH Not specified
New Jersey
New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development New Jersey Career Connections 2 contacts
New Mexico
New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions New Mexico Workforce Connection 2 contacts May 23, 2021
New York
New York Department of Labor NY Hire Now 3 contacts
North Carolina
North Carolina Department of Commerce NC Works 3 contacts March 14, 2021
North Dakota
North Dakota Job Service North Dakota Job Service Not specified July 26, 2020
Ohio
Ohio Department of Job and Family Services Ohio Job Network 2 contacts December 6, 2020
Oklahoma
Oklahoma Employment Security Commission OK Job Match 2 contacts October 25, 2020
Oregon
Oregon Employment Department WorkSource Oregon 2 direct employer contacts; 3 additional work search activities
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry Pennsylvania CareerLink 2 contacts
Rhode Island
Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training Employ RI 3 contacts
South Carolina
South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce SC Works 2 contacts April 18, 2021
South Dakota
South Dakota Department of Labor and Regulation South Dakota Works 2 activities August 2, 2020
Tennessee
Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Jobs 4 TN 3 contacts October 4, 2020
Texas
Texas Workforce Commission Work in Texas 1-3 depending on county November 1, 2020
Utah
Utah Department of Workforce Services Jobs Utah 4 contacts August 15, 2020
Vermont
Vermont Department of Labor Think VT 3 contacts May 9, 2021
Virginia
Virginia Employment Commission Virginia Workforce Connection 2 contacts May 30, 2021
Washington
Washington Employment Security Department Work Source WA 3 contacts
West Virginia
Workforce West Virginia Workforce West Virginia Not specified
Wisconsin
Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development Job Center of Wisconsin 4 contacts
Wyoming
Wyoming Department of Workforce Services Wyoming at Work 2 contacts August 9, 2020

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