Job search requirements
Job search requirements are back
As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the governor, with support from the Legislature, suspended the job search requirements at the start of the pandemic. With the economy recovering, job search requirements are back. This means you must look for work and document at least three approved job search activities each week in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.
When did job search requirements go back into effect?
- Begin your job search activities the week of July 4-July 10.
- If you completed the required job search activities, you can answer “yes” to the job search question on the weekly claim starting the week of July 11. In future weeks, we will ask that you report the details of your job search activities.
- Important: Keep a record of your job search activities in case we ask to see them. You can use our job search log to make it easier.
Job search activities list
The chart below includes the current list of approved job search activities. You must complete three each week if you are receiving regular unemployment insurance or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) in order to remain eligible for benefits. You must complete one approved activity if you are receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), though we strongly encourage you to complete three.
We've recently expanded this list to make your job search more meaningful – and provide many options that can be done virtually!
Employers are hiring throughout the state, so whatever your experience or industry, make these job search activities work for you and help you land the job you really want.
|Activity type||Approved job search activity||Documentation ideas||Approved for |
|Employer contact||Employer contact (application, informational interview, job interview, follow-up conversation or email).||Job title or reference number, employer or business name, information on how you made the contact (in-person, online, phone, email, or other), employer or business contact information.||X|
|WorkSource||Set up an account on WorkSourceWA.com.||Screen shot of your account page.|
|WorkSource||Upload your resume at WorkSourceWA.com and make it searchable for employers.||Screen shot or copy of your resume.|
|WorkSource||Participate in an in-person or virtual workshop sponsored by WorkSource.||Name of the workshop, date, time, and location.|
|WorkSource||Participate in an in-person or virtual job fair or hiring event sponsored by WorkSource and contact at least one employer.||Name of the event, date and information about where or how you attended, name of employer.|
|WorkSource||Participate in a job club sponsored by WorkSource.||Name of the club, date, and how or where you attended.|
|WorkSource||Participate in a Reemployment Services and Eligibility Assessment (RESEA) initial or follow-up appointment.||Name of activity, date, and where or how completed.|
|WorkSource||Participate in a general job club sponsored by WorkSource.||Name of activity, date, and where or how you attended (virtual or in-person).|
|WorkSource||Meet with a WorkSource specialist or career coach to learn about Title I services.||Name of activity, date, and where or how completed.|
|WorkSource||Enroll in WIOA Title I-B program and develop an Individual Employment Plan.||Name of activity, date, and where or how completed.|
|WorkSource||Enroll in WIOA Title I-B program and receive at least one basic or individualized career service such as participating in a workforce preparation, financial literacy or short-term pre-vocational course.||Name of activity, date, and where or how completed.|
|WorkSource||Participate in WIOA Title I-B incumbent worker training.||Name of activity, date, and where or how completed.|
|WorkSource||Participate in WIOA Title I-B paid or unpaid work experience or internship.||Name of activity, date, and where or how completed.|
|WorkSource||Participate in WIOA Title I-B on-the-job training.||Name of activity, date, and where completed.|
|Other||Do labor market research at esd.wa.gov/labormarketinfo.||Take a screen shot of the information.|
|Other||Watch an online video, for example a YouTube video, on a job search topic (for example: how to write a cover letter, resume writing or interview skills).||Link to the video or a screen shot of the video launch page.|
|Other||Prepare a 30-second “elevator speech” to use at job fairs or during an interview.||Screen shot or document.|
|Other||Set up a new account or update the one you have on job search sites (Indeed, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, CareerBuilder, Monster, Google Careers, or other) and search for job openings.||Link to or a screen shot of your profile and job openings.|
|Other||Establish an account and post your resume and cover letter with online job search job applications (Job Scan, Bright Move, Hiring Solved, or other).||Link to or screen shot of page showing successful account creation and specific job opening.|
|Other||Sign up with a private career coach or service.||Link to or screen shot of the agreement.|
|Other||Register with a permanent placement agency, recruiter or headhunter service.||Screen shot the page documenting your registration.|
|Other||Participate in job search related webinars or course sponsored by placement agencies.||Link to or screen shot of page documenting completion.|
|Other||Attend an in-person or virtual job fair or hiring event and make contact with at least one employer.||Registration letter or email from job fair representative; Employer or business name, information on how you made the contact (in-person, online, phone, email, or other), employer or business contact information.||X|
|Other||Participate in virtual or remote job shadowing.||Copy of a letter or email from the person you shadowed. If this job shadow is for a specific open position, it can be counted as an employer contact for extended benefits.||X|
|Other||Participate in a private or community job club.||Letter or email from the club leader or sponsor.|
|Other||Participate in private on-the-job training (OJT).||Name of company, position type of activity and where or how completed. If this job shadow is for a specific open position, it can be counted as an employer contact for extended benefits.||X|
|Other||Complete an online interest inventory (e.g., Strong, My Next Move, Myers/Briggs, career profile tool in WorkSourceWA.com).||Link to or screen shot of your results.|
|Other||Complete ACT WorkKeys assessment.||Link to or screen shot of your results.|
|Other||Obtain a National Work Readiness Credential.||Screen shot or scanned copy of certificate.|
|Other||Participate in an occupational skills or computer course.||Screen shot or copy of your registration receipt.|
|Other||Take a computer literacy course or class.||Screen shot or copy of your registration receipt.|
|Other||Participate in English as a Second Language (ESL) course or class.||Name, date and location, screen shot or scan of registration receipt.|
|Other||Participate in LinkedIn Learning certified courses, or courses on a similar online learning platform that issue certificates of completion.||Link to or screen shot of the course completion page.|
|Other||Participate in private sector paid or unpaid work experience or internship.||Letter or email from employer.|
|Other||Participate in a Department of Services for the Blind (DSB) vocational rehabilitation job readiness, job search, adjustment to disability or adaptive skills activity. [DSB-eligible participants only]||Copy of email or letter from the vocational rehabilitation counselor documenting participation by claimant in each activity, including dates.|
|Other||Participate in a Division of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) vocational rehabilitation job readiness or job search activity. [DVR-eligible participants only]||Copy of email or letter from the vocational rehabilitation counselor documenting participation by claimant in each activity, including dates.|
|Self-employed and/or business owners ONLY||Advertising your business to new and potential customers.||Link or screenshot of your ad (digital, newspaper, social media, etc.).|
|Self-employed and/or business owners ONLY||Bidding on jobs.||Copy or picture of the proposal submitted for the bid.|
|Self-employed and/or business owners ONLY||Contacting potential or former clients.||Name, date contacted and contact information (email or phone number) of the client contacted.|
|Self-employed and/or business owners ONLY||Attending a webinar or workshop to develop business-related skills or learn a new trade.||Registration letter or email confirming attendance, or certificate of completion for the workshop or webinar.|
|Self-employed and/or business owners ONLY||Using small business services, or consulting with a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) professional (for example: using services on websites such as business.wa.gov or sba.gov).||Screenshot to show proof of visit and engagement with a small business service website.
Name and contact information of SBDC professional.
|Self-employed and/or business owners ONLY||Other activities to demonstrate ongoing and active efforts to build your business.||Screenshot or picture of the renewal of your professional license with Department of Licensing or business license with the Department of Revenue.
Name and contact of loan officer for your business loan.
Screenshot with timestamp of website updates for your business website.
Screenshot of a networking event that you attended or hosted.
|* The Extended Benefits (EB) program allows up to 20 additional weeks of benefits but comes with stricter job search requirements. The activities on the table with the check mark mean they will meet the stricter EB job search requirements. EB is currently unavailable in Washington state.|
I am receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Do I need to look for work?
Yes. You are required to complete at least one approved job search activity, even if you are on PUA. We strongly encourage you to complete at least three activities because:
- PUA benefits are scheduled to end at the beginning of September 2021. Actively looking for a job prior to that will help get ahead of your benefits going away.
- It can prevent possible issues in the future. If we need to re-evaluate your claim, and find past weeks of yours are eligible for regular unemployment instead of PUA, completing three searches will meet the requirement for regular unemployment benefits and may prevent issues or overpayments on past weeks. You can learn more about why we would re-evaluate your claim on the Potential new claim alert page of our website.
I cannot work because I am at high-risk for COVID-19. Do I still need to complete the job search activities?
Yes. If you are unemployed, it is required by law that you must complete the required job search activities to remain eligible for benefits.
- Keep in mind that there are many activities that can be done virtually.
- You can also keep looking for suitable work that can be done from home.
I am receiving Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). Are job search requirements different for me?
No. Your job search requirements are the same as those on regular unemployment insurance. You must complete at least three approved job search activities each week in order to remain eligible for benefits.
I am self-employed and/or own a business. Do I still need to complete job search activities?
Yes. By law you do need to complete the job search activities to remain eligible for benefits. If you are receiving PUA, you need to complete at least one. If you are receiving regular unemployment you need to complete at least three.
Three things to know:
- Most activities do not include applying for jobs with other employers.
- There are approved activities specific to self-employed and business owners to make meeting this requirement more relevant to you.
- You can complete any of the approved activities to meet the requirement. You don’t have to stick to only those approved for self-employed and/or business owners.
I’m working part-time because of the pandemic. Do I still need to look for work to receive unemployment benefits?
Yes. You are required to look for suitable full-time work, even if you took a part-time job.
I am caring for someone else and can’t work. Do I still need to look for work to receive unemployment benefits?
Yes. You must continue to meet the job search requirement to remain eligible for unemployment benefits, even if you are caring for someone else. This includes children who are out of school or daycare due to the pandemic.
Are you receiving Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits? This program is different from Unemployment Insurance and has different requirements. If you are receiving Paid Family and Medical Leave because you are temporarily off work and caring for a family member who is ill or injured, the job search requirement does not apply. Go to paidleave.wa.gov for more information about that program. You cannot receive both unemployment insurance and Paid Family and Medical Leave at the same time.
I have a job offer but am not due to start until after the job search requirement goes back into effect. Do I still need to look for work to receive unemployment benefits before I start my new job?
No, but you do need to apply for standby. Standby allows you to continue receiving benefits without looking for work, as long as you have an approved reason for doing so. Learn more about standby on the Temporary layoffs, standby and furloughs page of our website.
I applied for standby earlier this year or earlier in the pandemic when job search was waived. Do I need to submit a new standby application when the requirement goes back into effect?
Standby requests made earlier in the pandemic are no longer valid. You or your employer will need to request standby again now that the executive order to waive job search has lifted as of July 4, 2021. Learn more about how to do this on the Temporary layoffs, standby and furloughs page of our website.
Reinstating standby in our system is taking longer than anticipated and it may create some complications for certain standby requests.
You may be initially denied standby and later approved if you:
- Are connected to an employer, and
- Have a return to work date, and
- Used standby earlier in the pandemic, and
- Do not have sufficient weeks left of standby on your active claim to be approved for a new request of standby.
If this applies to you, the old weeks of standby will be cleared once we update our system. We deeply apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.
If the conditions above do not apply to you, check your denial letter for the reason/s you were denied standby.
3 things to know:
- You must meet the job search requirements until you hear from us that you are approved for standby.
- Do you already have a return to work date with your current employer? You still must complete the required number of job search activities until you are approved for standby.
- If you have a job and a return date to that employer, we strongly encourage you to complete job search activities that do not require you apply for jobs or make an employer contact. This will help to not jeopardize your current employer relationship.
- You may receive a denial letter that says you don’t have enough weeks of standby available, but you may later be approved for standby when our system is fully updated.
- We expect our system to be fully updated for these standby requests in August.
- Complete the required job search activities (not necessarily applying with other employers if you have a job and a return date to that employer) until you receive an approval letter.
- Denial of standby does NOT mean you are denied unemployment benefits.
- Standby ONLY waives the job search requirements. It has nothing to do with eligibility for benefits.
What are the basic requirements to claim unemployment benefits?
While claiming unemployment benefits, you must be:
- Able to work.
- Available for work.
- Actively seeking suitable work, unless we've told you otherwise.
- Registered for work with a WorkSource employment center or local employment center (if living outside of Washington).
While collecting unemployment benefits, you must typically look for suitable work and keep a record of your job search to remain eligible for benefits. You are required to log a combined total of three approved job search activities each week. You can log this information online when you file your weekly claim or you can use our paper job search log, if you file on the phone. WorkSource has programs and services that can help you get back to work faster
It is very important that you understand your responsibilities when it comes to conducting and documenting your job search to avoid mistakes which could result in you having to repay the benefits you receive.
Can I do the same activity more than once and have them count for multiple job search activities?
No. You cannot do the exact same activity more than once and have it count. For example:
- You cannot watch the same video multiple times, or apply for the same job multiple times, and have it count.
- You can watch different videos relevant to job search within the same week (for example, one on interview best practices and one on resume writing), or apply for different jobs within the same company, and have each application count.
Are you required to register with your local WorkSource office or American Job Center?
If you live in Washington, you are automatically registered for work through a Washington state WorkSource office once you file your unemployment claim. The assignment is based on your zip code. If you live outside of Washington, you must register with your local American Job Center within one week from the date you receive your first unemployment benefit payment. If you originally file for benefits from Washington then move within the United States or to Canada and continue to meet all eligibility requirements, you’ll remain eligible for benefits. You must look for work and register for work where you live. Go to WorkSourceWa.com to locate the WorkSource office closest to you.
What do I do if I am out of state?
If you live in another state or relocate to a new area, you must register for work with an American Job Center within one week from the date your first payment is issued on your new or reopened claim. You can locate an American Job Center using the website at servicelocator.org. In many cases you may be able to register online. Contact your local office to find out how to complete the registration process.
If you do not register for work, you will be denied benefits for each week you are not registered.
Are there exceptions to the job search requirement?
Yes, but only in limited circumstances. Nearly everyone – including PUA recipients – must look for suitable work. Exceptions are:
- We approve you for a training program, such as Commissioner Approved Training or Training Benefits.
- We approve you for SharedWork.
- We approve you for standby.
- We approve you for Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP).
- You are dispatched through a full-referral union.
- You are partially unemployed (and approved by the department).
- You are an active registered electrical apprentice in an approved electrical apprenticeship program.
- You are approved for attending the classroom portion of mandatory apprentice training.
- You are part of a strike or lockout.
You only need to complete one job search activity if you are:
- Receiving PUA. We do, however, strongly recommend you complete three approved job search activities if you are receiving PUA. See the question about PUA on this page to learn more.
- Left work due to domestic violence or stalking. If the department has determined you left work for good cause due to being a victim of domestic violence or stalking, you only need to complete one approved activity per week to remain eligible for benefits.
All other claimants are required to complete at least three approved job search activities. We will notify you of your job-search requirements at the time you file your unemployment claim.
Note: If you are a full-referral union member, you must look for work by meeting your union’s dispatch requirements. A full-referral union means a union that refers its members to jobs by referral or dispatch.
How will I know if my job search activities have been waived?
We will notify you in writing through the preferred correspondence method you selected. You must look for work unless you have been notified by the department that you don’t have to. If you are required to look for work, you must meet Washington state’s job search requirements each week you claim benefits (unless we inform you otherwise).
What is an employer contact?
When inquiring about a position, you must take all steps necessary to apply for the position for the contact to count as a job search activity. You make an employer contact when you ask about or apply for a job. If you have applied for, or inquired about the job, and discovered that the employer is not hiring or accepting applications, you may still count your inquiry as an employer contact if you were unaware the employer was not hiring or accepting applications. You should note that fact in your job search log. You can contact an employer by:
- Meeting in-person
- Virtual meeting using conferencing services like Skype, Zoom, etc.
- An employer’s self-service kiosk
How do I document my job search?
If you use eServices to submit your weekly claim, you can answer “yes” to the job search question each week you complete your required activities. In future weeks, we will require that you enter the details of your job search activities on your weekly claim in order to be eligible for benefits. We highly recommend you use our job search log to keep track of your job search activities. You do not need to provide us with proof of your activities unless we ask for it.
If you submit weekly claims by phone, you’ll need to keep a written log of your job search activities. We prefer you use the job search log that we provide, but you’re welcome to keep track of your job search activities on any document you choose.
Highly recommended: Keep a written record of your job search
We prefer you use the job search log that we provide. Please use dark ink and print clearly.
You can keep track of your job search activities on any document you choose. If you do not use our log, be sure to document the required information to demonstrate you are making an active search for suitable work. You will need to show us this documentation if we ask for it.
Why keep a written record of job search activities?
We may contact you for proof of your job search activities even after you’ve stopped claiming each week.
Do I need to submit my job search log?
No, but we may request to see it at any time. You must keep it at least 30 days after the end of your benefit year or 30 days after you stop receiving benefits, whichever is later. You don’t need to send it to us unless we request it.
We conduct random reviews of job search activities to make sure you are looking for suitable work. If you are selected for a review or we have a question about your job search, we will request a copy of your job search log(s) and you must provide them as instructed.
We may send you a letter to schedule a review of your job search activities to make sure you are looking for suitable work, review your eligibility for benefits and, when appropriate, provide feedback on how to improve your job search. Read the letter carefully to see if your interview is by phone or in-person. Have your job search log(s) ready. If your log is missing or incomplete, or you are not making a genuine attempt to find suitable work, we may deny benefits. You then have to pay back benefits for all the weeks you didn’t meet the job search requirements.
What happens if I don’t log my job search activities?
Even if you can show you have complied with the job search requirements, we may suggest how to modify your job search efforts or improve your documentation. We may also schedule you for an additional appointment to confirm you are meeting the requirements.
If you cannot show you are making a genuine attempt to find suitable work, we could deny your benefits. If we deny your benefits, you must pay back benefits you received for weeks you did not meet the job search requirements. In addition, we will schedule a review of your job search activities for all weeks you claimed.
Do I need to accept any job offer I receive?
You must accept an offer of suitable work based on your skills, abilities and other factors for your occupation in your labor market. If there are limited jobs in your occupation or geographical area, you may have to expand your job search. For example, you may have to consider looking for a job virtually, or in a different field or location.
You can’t limit your search to jobs that start in the future. For example, if you’re a school bus driver on summer break, you can’t limit your search to jobs that start in the fall or work that will end when school begins. Learn more on the Refusal of work page on our website.
How can WorkSource help with my job search?
WorkSource offices in Washington state, and affiliates in other states, are partners in the American Job Center network. They provide employment and training services to job seekers and employers. Most services are free. To locate the nearest WorkSource office for you, visit WorkSourceWA.com.
If you live outside of Washington, find the nearest American Job Center at careeronestop.org or call 877-872-5627. WorkSource offices offer valuable classes, workshops and other services that may help meet your weekly job search requirements.
Below is a list of virtual and in-person services WorkSource provides:
- Skills assessment and career guidance.
- Strategies for finding a job.
- Information about how much jobs pay, and which jobs are in demand.
- Referrals to job openings, virtual and in-person hiring events.
- Referrals and appointments for job search assistance services.
- Assistance preparing your resume and getting ready for job interviews.
- Sharing job search strategies with other job seekers.
- Referrals to formal training programs as well as access to free online training.
- Referrals to food banks, free credit counseling, health, housing, utilities assistance and many other community resources to help you cope with unemployment. You also can call 211 for additional resources.
I’m receiving Extended Benefits. Are the job search requirements the same for this program? (Note: Extended Benefits is currently not available in Washington state. Go to the Benefit extensions page to learn more.)
If you have exhausted your 26 weeks of regular unemployment and your federal PEUC, you may be eligible for Extended Benefits, which allows up to 13 additional weeks of benefits. This program has strict job search requirements, which are different from regular unemployment job search requirements. The consequences for not meeting these job search requirements are high. If you apply and qualify for Extended Benefits, we’ll send you instructions for conducting your job search. Learn more about Extended Benefits and how to apply on the Benefit extensions page.
Would you like to connect with a dedicated expert to help you find a job? Then WorkSource is here for you!
WorkSource staff can connect you with employers hiring right now in your community, identify training opportunities or help you brush up on your application and interview skills.
Here’s what to do:
- The best way to connect with a WorkSource team member is virtually.
- If this doesn’t work for you, some WorkSource offices are re-opening for in-person services. This may be by-appointment only.
- Please go to WorkSource's office locator page to find available options for virtual and in-person services in your area.
- We expect demand may be high for WorkSource services as the requirement goes back into effect. Please check the office locator page on WorkSourceWA.com to find the best way to connect with a WorkSource expert in your community.
Locate your local WorkSource office or American Job Center:
Outside Washington: careeronestop.org or 877-872-5627