I lost my job last week, and I just applied for unemployment. I'm eager to get back to work, so I've started reaching out on LinkedIn and other social networking sites. I'm also contacting firms I know in the area to find out whether they are hiring. Do I have to prove to the unemployment department that I'm looking for work? What kind of proof do I have to submit? I'm doing most of my job search online, so I'm not sure what I'll need to provide to keep getting benefits.
It all depends on your state's unemployment law and regulations. In every state, you must be actively seeking work in order to claim benefits. But how you must look for work -- and prove you're doing so -- varies by state. Some states ask you to sign a sworn statement that you are actively looking for a job. Other states require that you make a certain number of job contacts per week and provide the contact information for employers to which you've applied.
Especially if you are changing fields, receiving job training or meeting with a career counselor may count as work search activities. Other types of preparation, like working on your resume or practicing your interview skills, may also count.
The best way to find out what's required is to check your state's unemployment agency website. (You can find links to every state's agency at our State Unemployment Compensation Agencies page.) Most states have an online handbook that guides claimants through the unemployment process. If you don't find the information you need online, you can call the state agency to find out what you have to provide.