For most, being unemployed sucks. Instead of spending your days doing your job, you spend your days job searching...and searching...and searching some more. Oy, how exhausting!
But since job searching alone can be hard work, you might as well get paid for it, right? Collecting unemployment benefits these days is more common than ever, especially when mass layoffs are the cause and people have mortgages to pay and families to support.
If you're considering collecting unemployment benefits from your state, it's important to note that it's not a "free" ride to get there. Your state may have different rules and regulations, but here in Massachusetts you have to provide proof of all your job search efforts in order to collect your checks. They may not ask for records all the time, but you must have written proof of your job search efforts ready if the state requests them.
In fact, Massachusetts law requires you to do three things each week to remain eligible for benefits:
- Make a minimum of three work search contacts in each week that benefits are claimed.
- Keep a written log of those work search contacts.
- Provide a work search log to Division of Unemployment Assistance upon request.
To make things even stricter, you're required to write everything in the program-provided Worksearch Activity Log (they won’t accept any other form).
Here are some suggestions to help you keep track of your efforts:
- Pin the Worksearch Activity Log to your refrigerator door so you're forced to look at it several times a day.
- Save receipts and notes from meetings or networking opportunities, then write them down on the form as soon as you get home.
- Use online tools (like Pongo's Tracker and TaskManager) to log all your job search activities and communications, from submitting resumes and making phone calls, to storing interview times and contact names, so you can easily fill in the form when the state agency requests it.
The point is, you can't just sit on your couch day after day collecting unemployment – you have to be a proactive job seeker, and you have to have the records to prove it. It's in your and the government's best interest to constantly search for new opportunities. They don't want to pay benefits forever, and you want to return to a real paycheck, rather than the partial sum the government will give you. But meanwhile, that partial sum is a source of income you don't want to lose, so be sure to follow your state's unemployment guidelines until you find your next job.
What other ways do you stay organized while hunting for a job? How are you handling unemployment?
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