Job search requirements

COVID-19 update - job search requirements currently optional

The job search requirement is currently optional as part of the emergency COVID-19 rules.

What is the job search requirement?
You are typically required to look for work and document your job search activities in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis, the Governor, with support from the Legislature, suspended this requirement on March 8 and the suspension has been extended several times since.

Job search is optional through Aug. 1. As long as job search requirements are suspended, you may answer "no" to the job search question on your weekly claim. 

Looking for your next opportunity?
Despite the COVID-19 crisis, many employers are still hiring across the state. So, while job search requirements are currently optional, it is a great time to continue looking for your next opportunity. For that, WorkSource is here to help.

  • Refine your skills, learn new ones and land a job with the help of WorkSource’s dedicated experts. Offices are physically closed statewide due to the pandemic, but you can still call your local office, join an online workshop and get virtual help at WorkSourceWA.com.
  • Join a virtual job fair to connect directly with organizations and employers from the comfort of your home. Explore available opportunities and participate in 1-on-1 text-based chats with representatives from participating organizations. Share your background and experience and get all your questions answered! You can find a list of hiring events sponsored by WorkSource under the career tools tab on their website.

We’re here to help
We recognize both the challenging economic conditions and difficult circumstances people face given the nature of the COVID-19 crisis, so we are finding ways to make meeting the job search requirement better fit the times. We are committed to helping you understand the requirements before you need to report job searches when submitting your weekly claim.


The job search requirements below are for reference only. Job search requirements are currently optional.


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)
Each week that you claim benefits, you must make at least three employer contacts or participate in three in-person or virtual job-search activities (or a combination of both, for a total of three) or other job-search activity that will help you find employment. You can kick off your job search by checking out the resources at WorkSourceWA.com or another member of the American Job Network (if living outside of Washington).

If you are filing your weekly claim in eServices you must enter your job search details. If you are filing your weekly claim on the phone, you must keep a written log of your job search activities. We recommend you use the blank log at esd.wa.gov/job-search-log.
We can ask for your job search log at any time, and we might verify your activities by calling the employers you list.


You do not have to look for work if:

You are approved for:

  • Self-Employment Assistance Program (SEAP)
  • Training benefits
  • Attending TAA-approved training
  • Attending the classroom portion of mandatory apprenticeship training
  • Dispatched through a full-referral union*
  • Employer attached, including:
    • Approved for standby
    • Partially unemployed (and approved by the Employment Security Department)
    • Participating in the Shared Work program

*If you are a member of a full-referral union that is recognized by us, you do not have to seek work outside your union as long as you continue to be registered with and actively seek work through your union. 

We will notify you of your job-search requirements at the time you file your unemployment claim.

Extended benefits

If you have exhausted your 26 weeks of regular unemployment and your 13 of federal PEUC, you may be eligible for Extended Benefits, which allows up to 20 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


You can find a copy of a job-search log in the Handbook for Unemployed Workers (PDF, 2.9MB), or download the job-search log individually.